My heart gave a little leap of excitement as we closed in on the Craftsbury Outdoor Center in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. The directions alone were enticing – down to the dirt road. . . Lost Nation Road. . . registration in the white farmhouse. I, along with my 30 or so NERSFL friends, was not disappointed. This is about the simplest, most down to earth, least commercial place I’ve ever stayed at. With miles and miles of cross country ski and snowshoeing trails right outside our door, with it's pristine and quiet beauty, and wholesome (no, I did NOT say ‘low fat!’) home cooked food, the place can’t be beat!
But enough of the travelogue. That’s really not what New England Regional Ski for Light trips are about. A kaleidoscope of impressions culminating in an energy and emotional high lasting all the way into the next work week.
The smell of good clean air. . . the caress of winter sun on my bare cheek and on the untrampled snow of the Duck Pond. . . feeling muscles work and heart beat strong, movement rhythmic. . . the sound of skis gliding and creaking and squeaking in the tracks. . . the crunch of untrodden snow under snowshoe clad feet. . .the massage of a hot shower and then a REAL NERSFL shoulder massage – unsolicited – the best kind!
And so much more.
Bursts of spontaneous group laughter . . . the sharing of good wine. . . the discovery of common bonds, catching up on news with old friends and exploring new friendships. . . more peals of laughter. . .forging partnerships between guides and ‘VIP’s’. . . seeing skills improve. . . discovering the joy of new found never-before-tried outdoor activities. . . laughing at oneself. . . laughing with another person. . . gaining confidence. . . sharing confidences. . . more laughing.
And, still, there’s more. The ‘more’ that can’t be captured in the written word. The ‘more’ that has to be lived and breathed and felt to be known. The ‘more’ that will be different for every NERSFL participant, different on every trip. The ‘more’ that keeps so many guides and VIP’s returning year after year and that beckons to those who are new with a wink, a New England Regional Ski for Light hug, and a hearty peal of laughter.
Trip Comments by Chris Nason
On the first weekend of the New Year approximately 34 New Englanders along with several of our New York friends headed north to be close to the Canadian boarder. Our destination was the Craftsbury Outdoor Center where we hoped to experience great snow conditions so that we might fulfill our snowshoeing and cross country skiing goals. Our hopes were more than fulfilled. Craftsbury Outdoor Center held all that we needed to feed our bodies and souls. The snow conditions were excellent with fresh snow cover each day. The accommodations were clean and very comfortable. We were housed all in one building and mostly on one floor. At the end of the floor was a wonderful down home type living room area that suited our group to a tee. In addition to all this, the food was superb with home made breads and dressings, fresh mixed green salad each day and dishes that originate right there at the center. In fact they publish their very own cookbook, which is available in the gift/accessory shop. We were able to rent snowshoes and skis at the touring center shop, which is right, down the road from the gift shop.
I chose to snowshoe on the first day. So with my guide Linda, and Mark with guide Annie, and Marie with guide Kari, we heeded out and had our choice of well-marked trails. We laughed and joked and huffed and puffed. The quiet of the pristine snow and fresh air was spectacular. I have enough sight that I could appreciate the glistening snow on the trees and bushes. We headed out again in the afternoon on another of the many trails. This time some others joined us in our group that heard our tales of fun and laughter and frolicking in the morning snow.
On Sunday, I tried my hand at cross-country skiing. My experience on skis is very limited, to put it mildly and my balance isn’t that of a tight-rope walker either. However, with the assistance of my very wonderful guide and roommate, Sandie, I was able to remain upright for quite a while. I was so excited! Sandie was so supportive and encouraging and patient.
There is so much that might be said of this latest of NERSFL adventures
that it’s hard to know where to stop. My trip ended by saying good-by to
a very cool guy Jim, who was our driver and a first time guide. With Jim’s
great sense of humor and Kelly and Marie and Me as the best "back seat
drivers"....well what can I say except that everything was "awesome!"
Gorham, NH, March 2-5, Great Glen Trails Trip
On Friday, March 2nd, Marie and Liz picked me up at my home. We headed off to our weekend trip to Gorham, NH. Liz was the “designated” driver and guide. She was a great driver and remained calm at all times even when we got stuck in “stall and crawl” traffic for over an hour. On the way up we enjoyed a nice supper at an “off the beaten track” quaint and charming family owned restaurant. Around ten o’clock we arrived at the Royalty Inn where we received a warm welcome from staff.
After a great night’s sleep, approximately thirty-six of us enjoyed a hearty buffet breakfast in the Royalty’s restaurant where once again we were greeted by friendly and accommodating staff. For the next two days we experienced great weather. At Great Glen Trails, the touring center, we were greeted with a big welcome on their roadside sign. The staff at the touring center was very helpful and super friendly. The trails and meals were excellent. While the majority of participants and guides chose to ski, some of us elected to try our hand at snowshoeing. And some of us even ...yes we did.... try our hand at tubing....what a blast.
We were pleased to welcome a new visually impaired participant, Andy from the D.C. area and two new guides, Chris from the D.C. area and Marilyn from Acton, MA. Marilyn and Chris were trained on Saturday by John Luke and “vips” Joanne and Mark . Both Chris and Marilyn turned out to be excellent guides and warm and wonderful people as well.
In the evening we had our usual fun raffle and raised $250.00 for our scholarship fund and had lots of laughs while doing it. The “frosting on the cake” so to speak was the great hottub and pool next door to the hotel.
Although our adventure was cut short due to the predicted blizzard, we had an awesome time, but then how could it be otherwise with such a fantastic group of people that make up New England Regional Ski for Light.
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