On the map, the Craftsbury Outdoor Center’s “Grand Tour” looks like a generous oval scrawled by a 3-year-old. The Outdoor Center, a four-season resort tucked beside Great Hosmer Pond, has a network of cross-country ski trails that unspool from its campus and travel dozens of kilometers beyond it. My favorite, the Grand Tour, appears as a 16.7-kilometer doodle, but it’s also configured as two baby-grand tours, a figure 8 quavering over the paper. But when I fold the map, tuck it away, and click into my skis … I’m actually striding down a smooth, white avenue, a circuit of groomed snow that meanders sinuously through the backcounty of my community.
Whose woods these are (to botch Frost) I know! I know! My glide around the ‘hood unfurls upon parcels belonging to some 40 consenting landowners. And although part of me recognizes that I’m plunging down the Houstons’ llama field into the Reils’ balsam woods, what I like even more is feeling that I’m both local and remote. The two slats on my feet and the Center’s groomed loop let me plane a secret byway behind my neighbors’ lives, whereby I enact some of winter’s miracles: passing over land that bristled with cornstalks four months ago; sliding across the pond where the scullers heaved their oars; pausing in the dense woods where conifers sigh about breezes and the chill is brightened with the beeps and chimes of tiny birds or the gargle of a crow. Wait, where am I?
As trees mark each year’s growth with another ring, so my winters are recorded by these circumambulations, Grand Tour revolutions around everything I think I know. 535 Lost Nation Road, Craftsbury Common, VT. 802-586-7767; craftsbury.com/skiing/nordic_center/home.htm