This past weekend, I finally cross country skied on the Catamount Trail. I’ve seen the blue blazes with the Catamount foot print that mark the route during hiking season, but finally I spent a dedicated afternoon skiing it.
The original plan was to head out on some logging trails in southern Vermont, but before my big cousin and I got more than 20 yards we were already choking on snowmobile exhaust, which is not really enjoyable. So we took a quick left and headed on a skinny trail that twisted through pristine woods.
The sky was blue and the snow was like cake frosting but fast and very deep which I realized after I augured myself into a snow bank from taking a downhill stretch a little too fast. After seeing me struggle to get out of my snow hole, my cousin decided walking with the skis might be a better option than skidding down the steep stretch. Of course, she took a step and, as her leg sank deep in the snow, we realized there was three and a half feet of snow underneath. She decided to ski it and did it much more gracefully than I did.
Cross country skiing on the Catamount Trail was especially fun because the terrain was so diverse with twists and turns and ups and downs. It felt like a combination of tele-skiing through bumps, cross country skiing (because that is what we were doing) and mountain biking (single track through the woods). The good thing was that we were not mountain biking, because, for me, mountain bike crashes hurt a lot more than landing in a soft, deep mound of snow.
The Catamount Trail is 300 miles long and open to the public for skiing and snowshoeing in the winter. Here are some other details from CatamountTrail.org:
- The Catamount Trail follows remote wilderness routes, groomed cross-country ski trails, snowmobile trails, and old logging roads.
- It is divided into 31 sections, each of which has its own volunteer trail chief.
- The trail features stretches appropriate for a broad range of skiing and snowshoeing abilities.
- It also crosses private land through the generous permission of more than 200 landowners and traverses approximately 130 miles of public land including Green Mountain National Forest, Vermont state land, and town-owned parcels.
There are many ways to get on the trail. Here is some information on where to go to access it: http://www.catamounttrail.org/trail. The web site also gives hints on trail etiquette and information on becoming a member of the Catamount Trail Association.
Happy Catamount Trail to you!