NEWS FLASH: Adventure skiing slideshows kick off this Weds 10/24 and Thurs 10/25. More info HERE.
Although a micro-dusting of snow graced many northeastern mountaintops over the weekend, it wasn’t enough to lure us to break the skis out of the shed, as we had the week before. Meanwhile, after last Friday’s rainstorm gave way to a spectacular weekend of sunshine, passing showers and rainbows, some fresh tracks of a different sort were in order. As new mountain-bike friendly trails (and entire trail networks!) come to life throughout the northeast, we feel drawn to document their development, pitch in some trail work (and encourage others to join in, too) and encourage trail users of all kinds to get out there and enjoy what is taking shape in our communities.
This past weekend, finishing touches were put on a new network of trails on the old Norwich University ski hill (Shaw Outdoor Center) in Northfield, VT. Funded by a generous donation to the University, and developed over the last two summers under the leadership of trail designer and builder, Brooke Scatchard, owner of Sinuosity, with significant contributions by trail design/builder Dave Packie and design/builder Hardy Avery, of Sustainable Trailworks, the 10+ mile trail network offers something for everyone. Nearly 75 mountain bikers, including more than a dozen local residents, turned out on Sunday for the official opening of the trails and a guided tour of the new network. Having a relatively long-term connection to this area, it was exciting witness such an overwhelmingly positive response to the official unveiling of the new trails.
Out on the trail, we laid fresh tire tracks through the fallen leaves while pedaling through open meadows, stands of conifers and mixed hardwood forests. Scatchard set a pace that kept the group together, while sharing some tidbits of trail side Americana along the way (pointing out old slate quarries, evidence of the former ski area, and more). A few passing rain showers were no match for the enthusiasm infecting this group, and as we gave into gravity at the top of the old ski hill, a network of freshly built single track welcomed us with open arms. The experience was at once a celebration of hard work, community, a ski hill brought back to life… and so much more.
After a few hours out on the bikes, the Sevi Family hosted a fun gathering around a backyard fire. Scatchard passed around some apple cider and cheddar. Packie had a few refreshments to share. Still savoring the experience of the ride, none of us were as hungry as we should have been, but while nibbling away, it became clear that the new trails are not just trails. They are access to fresh air and beautiful views; they are a key component in an economy based on recreation and tourism; and they are a vital conduit to community, to friendships, and to health, fitness and fun.
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