Craftsbury Skiing and Snowshoeing 2017
On the first weekend after the New Year of 2017, 21 visually impaired skiers (VIPs) and 14 guides came to Craftsbury, Vermont for a long weekend of skiing and snowshoeing at the Craftsbury Outdoors Center. They were joined by 8 local guides.
The Craftsbury Outdoors Center on Lost Nation Road has greatly increased its capability for serving cross-country skiers and snowshoe walkers in the winter and rowers and mountain bikers in the summer with a new facility for rental and sales of equipment and for participants to recover from their exertions—all of it incorporating sustainable energy and lifestyle practices.
VIPs and their guides from all over the northeast and beyond have come to this annual event to enjoy the variety of trails, both challenging and forgiving, to socialize with friends, old and new, and to enjoy the superb, locally sourced food, served at the residents’ dining hall—the best food in the Northeast Kingdom!
This January, participants came ready for cold weather. At night temperatures reached -5° F and daytime temperatures became progressively cooler, starting at a balmy 17° F on Saturday, but only 9° F on Monday. Nonetheless, skiers ranged far and wide on the varied terrain of Craftsbury, including the shore-line trail along Lake Hosmer and the challenging climbs and descents along Ruthie’s and Sam’s Runs (both forward and backwards)!
These exertions and loss of heat to the cold required difficult decisions on how many calories to consume in the dining room, where consistently ample helpings were served. Well, maybe not so difficult, since the great-tasting food made it easy to throw calorie calculations to the wind!
What about those cold, dark nights? Were we bored? Heavens forefend! After settling in on Friday night, there was a lot of catching up to see who had come this time.
On Saturday, there was a great deal of speculation about whether The Voice would make a showing to give the rundown on the items that were to be offered at auction. The auction included an impressive array of items, both practical and whimsical. There was ski clothing, outdoors gear, chocolates, adaptive devices, champagne, an eggbeater (antique), magic aprons, and a disembodied, lighted Frosty the Snowman head. Marie introduce Steve Flanders as the auctioneer, who proceeded to apologize about his age-related dwindling prowess in that role, causing much concern in the audience, only to be replaced by relief, when everyone learned that Steve’s protégé, The Voice, would take over — which he did. The auction and raffle netted $247, which subsidizes the rental of vans to bring participants to NERSFL outings and expenses of those in need of assistance.
On Sunday, after another full day of skiing and snowshoeing, everyone repaired to the dining hall to learn that not only could they be thankful for a great day, but also that the first Thanksgiving dinner of 2017 was served — the re-institution of a great Craftsbury tradition. While one might have expected a tryptophan-induced torpor after that meal, instead there was a lively round of libations, conversation and games — both of chance and skill—until well past the bedtime of properly brought-up children! Monday was our last and coldest day of outdoor activities, as everyone made ready to leave for points south before or after lunch. Some were heading to snow country in the greater Boston area; others had yet further south to travel.
Every morning, there was a new pairing VIPs and guides, who enjoyed challenges that were often slightly beyond the skill level that each participant had arrived with. No matter, by the end of each outing participants had extended their skill sets and, in some cases, extended their comfort with an increased degree of disability—each proving that, If I can do this, I can do anything!
Steve Flanders (aka The Voice)
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