Craftsbury Outdoor Center
January 10-13, 2003

Once again, the Craftsbury Outdoor Center worked its magic on us as 42 NERSFLers converged on the site for a wonderful 3-day weekend of cross country skiing and snowshoeing. Among them we welcomed first time NERSFL participants and guides Nario, Carole, Caroline, Betsy, Mark B., Victor, Debbie B. and Dan: please join us again!

The Center is located in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont and actualy GUARANTEES snow from early January til mid March. It’s the loveliest quietest least commercial place I’ve ever stayed at for these winter activities. With its simple accommodations, large living room for our group’s use and dining room with wood stove, it’s homey and inviting. Add to that the delicious homemade food (including the freshest of salads, breads and soups) and a network of trails right outside the door, and you have the ingredients for a truly spectacular weekend. Stirred together with the constant laughter and banter of our group and 3 days of excellent weather and snow conditions, and you get one heck of a wonderful time. So good, in fact, that the vote was unanimous to schedule another weekend at Craftsbury for 2004.

And wonderful is the word of choice to describe the NERSFL Craftsbury experience. Many folks arrived early enough on Friday to sneak in some outdoor fun before dinner. While I did not, people were still awake at 11:00 PM to give me and my fellow travelers a warm NERSFL greeting and a glass of wine.

We were all up and energized(?) in our skier/guide matches and out the door by 10:15 or so on Saturday. While many skiied, some participants chose to trek through the wilder beautiful woods trails on snowshoes. There’s room for every kind of skier. Some people chose the smaller rolling hills of the Duck Pond trail while others whizzed off onto black diamond trails that I imagine I, personally, will never encounter! Some skiied the flats on the frozen lake. In the afternoon some imaginative and adventuresome skiers developed a new technique – skiing downhill in a row holding hands. By the time they were done, they’d manage to do this while staying upright in a band of seven whooping and hollering skiers.

After a delicious dinner, some played scrabble, some played an audio trivia game, some went off to the local contra dance and still others just hung out and talked. There was such a feeling of warmth in the group.

Sunday saw the addition of our guide training graduates from Saturday’s training being paired up with participants for skiing and snowshoeing. The new trick on the trails for Sunday seemed to be a competition among several fast skiers to see who could glide the farthest after skiing down a hill. Duane claimed the title for this only to be surpassed by Bjorg on Monday – watch out for those Norwegian skiers! A few pairs chose a very long trail. Jan, Mark B. and Debbie B. weren’t seen again til after dark. Guess who did the guiding in that pair once darkness fell!

Our raffle with a new innovation – a silent auction – kept us well entertained on Sunday night. Over $700 was raised for NERSFL and the availability of scholarships was thus nicely enhanced. The piece de resistance – a hand crafted child sized chair made by Mark R. and Alice was secretly bid up by many in the group as a joint effort and presented to a totally surprised Lisa L. to honor her impending adoption of a baby. The other hotly contested item, a jar of jam made from Bjorg’s own homegrown berries, went to high bidder Polly for a handsome price.

There was still time to get outdoors again on Monday for a few hours before lunch. Then, sadly, acccompanied by pizza, salad and the best chocolate chip cookies, many rounds of good-byes and NERSFL hugs ensued as we all dispersed and headed back to our individual ‘real worlds’.

The energy and good times, the fresh air and physical activity, have carried me through a hectic week at work and our seemingly endless cold snap hasn’t seemed so bad. While I sit in my slippers and sweats in my snug and cozy house writing this, I smile when I think of NERSFL’s Craftsbury weekend. I have extra motivation to get outside even if it’s just for a short walk. And I eagerly await our February trip to Bretton Woods.

Submitted by Cindy Wentz

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