Sunday, January 20, 2013

New Year=New Life!

Greetings to any and all that may still visit this blog. 2012 was a trying year in many ways, but the corner has been turned and things are going in a much more positive direction. As posted previously, my hip was in dire need of replacement, due to an accident 20+ years ago, plus 20 years of wear and tear. I finally succumbed and scheduled in July of 2012 to have it replaced. On the day of surgery, the actual replacement took about 1 hour from the time I kissed my wife goodbye till the doctor came out and told her and my dad and kids everything went great!. I was out for 2-3 hours, and when I woke up the pain was gone. I was sore from all the cutting, pushing, tugging, and everything else they did, but I could tell it was already better.

Since I had surgery late in the day, I wasn't walking till the morning. But 8 AM the next day, they got me up on my feet, and I walked like 25 feet. Later that day I doubled my walking. I spent 4 days in the hospital including surgery day, and each day my progress was amazing. (to me at least)

Following the hospital, I went to a rehab facility for a week. There I was subjected to 2 a day therapy sessions, and I was pushing every time, wanting to get better as fast as possible. Then it was home, and out patient therapy. I spent 6 weeks out of work total, and felt pretty good when I went back. On my follow up with the doctor, I got my first look at my new parts.
Amazing cannot begin to describe it. Still some soreness from surgery, but all of the agony I was feeling before was gone!! I can't say enough about the doctors and staff, from the orthopedic doctor to the rehab facility, and also my family for their support during this time. I truly feel like its a new life!
Onto my favorite topic-Snowmobiling! After a few test rides on the ATV, I realized that things were so much better already. I was able to sit like a normal person on the seat again, whereas before I was so far back, I was practically off the seat. The snowmobile felt the same, but of course I was in street clothes, not full riding gear. The true test came between Christmas and New Years, when there was enough snow to go riding, and try it out for real!
I had some friends meeting me up at our place, but I was waiting and couldn't wait any longer. I threw my leg over the sled, and fired up that willing engine, and off I went! Around the back to our connector trail, merged onto the main trail, and open up the throttle. Ah, that fresh smell of gas and oil-the two stroke cold smoke, the cold air on my face, was so refreshing! I dropped my visor, and accelerated down the trail, getting the feel of riding again. I was in heaven!!
A quick 25 mile shakedown cruise, and everything felt good. The trails varied from thin in some areas to plentiful in others.

After returning home, my friends showed up, and we went out and did a 50 mile jaunt around the local trails. We all wanted just to get those muscles moving again, and shake the cobwebs off the snowmobiles. After a good dinner, we went our separate ways for the evening.
The next day we left early, and headed west and north, following the snow pack. As we got further away the snow was definitely deeper. Going through some of the fields, drifting snow covered the trails, and you had a feeling of floating on fresh powder much like the skiers on that first run down the hill after a snowstorm. Deep was the word of the day. Light snow was falling most of the day, and a stiff breeze in the open fields was ever present.

We kept going north, with a target of Derby VT. Snow in the woods was mixed, sparse with water bars (patches of running water in otherwise snow covered areas, usually from a spring), and several good bumps. All the while, I was cringing at every bump, but I was navigating them without feeling any pain. As we got closer to our destination, we passed a marshy area with extremely tall grass, which formed a natural tunnel. The view was amazing to be sure. 
After navigating the last of the remaining trails, we arrived in Derby. There was plenty of snow, and temps were just under 20 degrees. Perfect weather for snowmobiling. We topped off our gas tanks, and crossed the street, heading to the Cow Palace for lunch. The Cow Palace is a restaurant who's claim to fame is Elk Steak and Elk Burgers, literally fresh from the back yard. There is an elk farm just next door where there are around 350 elk. Originally starting with 25 females, and 1 bull from Idaho. The day we came we were the only sledders, and only 2 other cars there. You can see the arch outside, make from elk horns.

After a late lunch we headed back towards home. The wind was picking up, snow still falling, and the sun was setting, although we only saw the sun for a few minutes all day. Going home was a quicker ride, partly because we were familiar with trails, partly being re-energized by some food. Driving through the fields proved challenging at times. The wind picked up even more, and at times you couldn't see where the trail went. Other times my riding partners got a little bit ahead of me, and their tracks would disappear with the wind blown snow. Finally arrived back home, with 170 miles under our belts, and 240 for the weekend. I was a little stiff and sore, but mostly in my back and shoulders. My hip still felt great!!
Fast forward to the next weekend. Ryan had to go back to school from Christmas break, so we went up Friday night, and Karen and I went out riding Saturday. Based on last week, the direction was west and north. Light to moderate snow was on tap early in the morning. I was leading, and when I got to the junction, hopped off and got a picture just as Karen came along.

As we traveled further along, the snow let up, and visibility improved. Toward the end of the first leg of our journey, we passed several farms. One caught my eye as we passed, and came to the stop sign. Outside in a fenced in area was what  I first thought was an ostrich, but after further research, was an Emu. Strangest sight to see in Vermont., but apparently there are several farms, which provide a variety of product made from Emu oil, and also sell meat, both of which are supposed to promote faster healing in our bodies.

 After a quick stop for fuel, we continued on our journey, and came across 2 deer bounding through an open field. I stopped to get my camera out, but they bolted into the woods. Disappointed, I drove forward, still with the camera hanging from my wrist. Suddenly out popped one, then the second deer. I hit the kill switch so the motor would spook them and snapped a true "deer in the headlights" pose of the two deer standing in the middle of the road.
A moment later Karen came up for a better look, and they took off into the woods again, but I got one in mid flight over the snow banks.

This would not be the end of the creature spotting. A little later on as we transitioned from one field to another (almost always a small cutout with a narrow band of tree as a separator, and often with a dip in the contour that wakes you right up) There was probably 20 or more turkeys plodding through the snow. Now the snow again was kind of wind blown, and at my estimation 12-16 inches in depth. This created the illusion of these little critters swimming across the surface, much like a duck in a pond.

We rode on past the pack and made our way to Derby once again. This was turning out to be the longest ride Karen has ever done in a day. After warming up and a nice lunch, we headed back towards home. Our route led us past  Al's, a snowmobile repair/parts shop which had the coolest old time snowmobile.
Stopping hillside nearby, we took in the view of the distant hills and I got this panoramic shot.
In another direction was a frosty looking mountain peak.
And in yet another direction, a sign of progress, were the turbine blades of a wind farm along the ridge line. The jury is still out on these, whether they are an eyesore or a valuable resource. They are formidable when seen up close though. I think each blade measure around 124 feet.

We mixed up the route a bit, going down through towns like Orleans and Barton. Eventually, we found ourselves chasing the sunset. The temperatures were slowing dropping, and we started feeling the cold a little more, but we pushed on. Sunset on a cold winters day can be beautiful. This was a farmhouse we came up on as the colors were starting to brighten.
As we headed further south, the sky starting glowing with more orange and yellow, seemingly on fire. Here are 2 shots, the first a normal view of the sce, and then a zoomed in shot of the brightest hues.
Simply amazing, no? Within minutes the sun slipped below the horizon. We rode the remainder of the way by headlight. Unfortunately due to the lack of snow, the last few miles were bumpy and it made it that much harder. As much as you wanted to stop, you had this voice saying 10 more miles, 8 more miles, and then your done. So we rode onward, pulling in around 6 PM. Total ride was 175 miles for the day. The nicest thing about the ride was this was the first time in a few years I was still feeling good. Over the past 2 years, it seemed like I was always sore, and eating Aleve or Ibuprofen to dull the pain and every other stop. This time I was feeling good, and needed nothing till I went to bed. I have shared some of the pictures today, but still have some editing to do on some video taken during my rides. I hope to finish those soon, and will either add them on to the end of this, or possible start a new entry and include them at a later date.
The next week we received a major warm up, melting 75 percent or more of the snow. As I write this on January 20th, we have received colder temps, and several 1-3 inch snow squalls which is building the base back up. The groomers have been out and extended cold is in the forecast, so I think it is almost time to put down the computer, and hit the trails again. I have 415 miles so far, surpassing last years 100 four fold. I am totally happy that I have been able to reach this small milestone considering it is just 6 months since my hip replacement. I was really thinking if I got 300-400 miles I would be fortunate and grateful. My goal is now 2000 miles this year.
Stay tuned to see if it becomes a reality!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

What a Difference a year makes

Greetings to any and all that still check here. This is the second post today, because I did not realize I had one blog update waiting to be finished for several months. This past year has been filled with so much, between our  oldest boy getting married, our youngest boy graduating high school and going out on his own to college. The winter of 2011-2012 will definitely go into the books and the winter that never got started. Snow was extremely hard to come by for some reason this year, so riding was limited mostly due to that, and partly due to health issues. I broke my hip socket some 20 years ago in a motorcycle accident, and they warned me I would be looking at a replacement someday. This day is coming very soon, tentatively in July. The wear and tear has been too much so its time for some replacement parts.

If you look at the right first you will see my left hip, relatively intact with a well defined ball and socket. On the left side of the picture is my right hip, looking more like mush. It has gotten to the point where it needs to be replaced, even if I can never ride again (don't count on that), but more so a quality of life-I am too young to have this hold me back as much as it has recently. Not sure if all the miles last year exacerbated the condition or if it was just time.

Well on to more happy things. We did get a single ride this year, in the end of January. This was right around the time of our clubs annual fundraiser, which we always try and get up to support. We took an extra day, going up Thursday, because this was also the weekend there was free riding in New Hampshire and Maine. But alas it wasn't meant to be. We arrived, and it almost immediately started raining. The driveway turned to a sheet of ice. We heard rumors it was better over in Pittsburg, New Hampshire, so I worked on getting the sleds loaded on the trailer. During the load out, our neighbor stopped by, and told us we would be wasting time. A call to a hotel in the area confirmed this. Their snow coverage was no better than ours and it was raining there as well.

The next day, it rained for several hours, so we did a little vehicle exploring. Late in the day a cold front came in and the rain eventually turned back to snow, blanketing us with a fresh 6-8 inches by Saturday morning. We decided we would ride to the fund raiser. Pulling out the iron beasts, we turned the keys, the engines roared to life, and that sweet smell of two-stroke oil filled the air. Seems like too long since we were able to ride. Off we went down the trail, and this year I had a new toy. I got a Go-Pro Camera for Christmas, and was dying to try it out. Turning it on as we left, I filmed a nice ride from our house, down the rail bed, and up to the lookout. Since this was my first video, its a little rough, but I have been getting better with editing (Watch for my Key West blog coming soon)

Snowmobile Ride

Stopping at the lookout, we took a few pictures, and the views were very nice. And if you look carefully, you can see the camera mounted on my helmet.

We headed back down the trail with our goal the Danville School. The school is an all inclusive school from kindergarten to high school. As we arrived in the parking lot the groomer was parked in the upper lot, after smoothing out the trails leading to the spaghetti dinner.

We had a nice lunch, bought some raffle tickets,(I ended up winning a club sweatshirt!) and after a little digestion, we headed back out on the trails, looking for more snow. It wasn't too hard to find. The trail we chose went down the rail bed, and up into the hills, in the direction of Coles Pond, and the lookout. Snow was clinging to the ranches and trees, and at one point we had someone in a bigger rush pass us to get to the deep powder first.

We passed through the Coles Pond area, and came across a new addition to the trail this year. The group that covers this section of the trail-The Coles Pond Sledders, just finished setting up a "Rest Stop" on the trail. We stopped to chat for a bit and learned they were going to open on the weekends starting next week, and offer a few hot dishes, beverages and company for the snow travelers to take advantage of.

After some good conversation, we mounted back up and took off in the direction of the lookout. I was clearing up now and the sun was working through the clouds and trees, providing some interesting views

 Finally we reached the pinnacle of our quest. The lookout on Stannard Mountain is a great place to view the White Mountains of New Hampshire on a clear day, and today did not disappoint. We could see over there pretty easily, and it was amazing to see all the snow caked on the trees.

Heading back down, we decided (well my hip decided) there wasn't too much riding left before my day was at its end. We changed up trails, heading back toward Danville, and come out on the new bridge that was built this year to allowing crossing of an area that flooded out pretty badly with the heavy rains this spring. One of the teenagers in town, who is also a snowmobiler and active in the club, helped lead the project for the bridge replacement. And what a great job was done!

So that was the winter that was for this year. We are looking forward to better things next year, both in the weather department as well as the health department. The doctor tells me as long as I am reasonable about my riding, it shouldn't be a problem to ride. Since I am not a motocross rider I should be good. But of course I will have to let my body tell me what I can handle, but count on some better statistics next year, so don't forget to tune in :-)

Catching Up

Greetings all, it's time to catch up from last we chatted. Winter was big hit this past year, the snow lasted into April, allowing us to ride in April for the first time,and also allowing me to crush my milestone of 1,000 miles. Final tally was 1569 for the year!

We (well maybe I) pushed for one more ride, and we came up April 1, arriving after dark to a snow squall. When we woke the next morning, Mother Nature blessed us with 8" of fresh snow! What a great way to start the day.

The sun was fighting the cloudiness, and clouds were starting to succumb to the suns warmth and determination. 

Eating a light breakfast, and packing up for a 1/2 day or so of riding we soon were heading out.
The snow was a bit powdery, very light in texture. Feeling a little like we were floating, we headed down the trail.
Snow clung to every tree, branch, and bush, giving the appearance of a white frosting to nature. Just amazing to think this was April. Soon the buds would be coming out, and things would be turning green-but not today.
Following the trail out after getting gas, we were first tracks out. We headed north, deciding to try the scenic overlook at Stannarrd Mountain. The snow was untouched by other machines all the way to the summit. The view turned out to be not so impressive, as the weather was still clearing, but the sleds looked nice caked in snow from our ascent.
Once we geared back up, we traversed down the mountains backside, which was a new trail for us. This trail brought us to an area that was freshly groomed, making the trails smooth as a lake in the early morning. We rode for several miles on the flat white carpet, stopping to admire it once or twice.
Onward and forward, trying to click off some miles and still enjoy the scenery, we reached a turning point to start our loop back home. The view from the top of the hill was awesome! Driving down the roads in Vermont affords you some amazing rural farmland views, but thanks to the generosity of the land owners up here, you really become part of the landscape! Roads are really discernible in some of the scenic vistas we stop at, giving the illusion that houses were randomly placed to accent the countryside.

As we traveled onward now in a more West-Southwest direction,the trails showed a little more traffic, and the sun was winning the battle with the clouds. Stopping to remove a few layers of insulation, my simple little compass/thermometer-the kind you would add to your jacket pull if skiing-showed the temperature had climbed into the low 40's. The sun was bright and felt great,but against a stark white background, it was blinding at times. Further down the  trail we encountered a maple syrup operation, which looked more like a deep sea bathysphere from Jacques Cousteau.
In the second picture, you can see the syrup lines coming from the trees delivering the sap, and then what i can only guess is a vessel to separate out the impurities prior to going into the larger tank.

We changed direction again, now trying to close the loop. Heading south-southeast, we came through the village of Irasburg, which advertised the Parker Pie Company. Upon further examination, the Pie Company was a Pizza Restaurant, and not what the name implied.

We noticed the temperatures were definitely climbing, yet the snow was actually getting deeper in many places. It sometimes gets difficult to judge the elevation you are at, as the trails wind back and forth, and sometimes you don't even realize you are ascending. Other times you feel like you are navigating a deep downward slope, only to find yourself abruptly climbing another hill. We rode down from Irasburg heading toward home, and as we came to the junction in Glover, we noticed tracks. Then around the next corner, we saw where the tracks were coming from. Several people were out riding there horses! We have come across many things on the trails, but this was another first. We gave them a wide berth, as to not spook the animals, and headed down a lesser traveled trail.
As we traveled down the smaller trail, we could see signs of the horses on this trail as well. Not sure if we would run into additional guests on the trail we slowed a little more. Then we saw what they were probably doing-the old fashioned version of gathering maple syrup. Using just a simple tap and bucket to procure the raw materials to create that delicious flavoring to pour on your pancakes, french toast, or anything else your heart desires. Surprisingly, it takes anywhere from 3-40 gallons of sap to make a gallon  of maple syrup, numbers vary depending on the sugar content of the sap. But at least the buckets were nicely decorated.

Soon we were on the home stretch of our final ride. We were back on our home turf, riding the familiar trails that would lead us back to our "lodge". As we got closer, we noticed the snow was disappearing more rapidly. Large bare spots were appearing in the fields, and we had to weave a bit to keep the sleds in the snow, to provide cooling and lubrication. As we arrived home, I realized winter was over, but what a great year! Thanks go out to all the people who work so hard on the trails, to my riding partners, and my wife for letting me indulge as much as I did this year!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Winter Keeps Rolling Along

What a winter this has turned out to be! One of the top 5 snowfall amounts at home, and a pretty awesome year of riding as well. It is early Sunday morning in Vermont as I begin this blog, and 2-3 inches of fresh snow have fallen overnight, and it is coming down lightly as I type. Staring out the window into the blanketed tree line, a there is a feeling of serenity or peacefulness about it. Everything looks pristine and pure covered by a coating of white, before the sand and salt change the colors to brown.
This winter has been a winter for the books to be sure. I have been able to get up more often than in past years to enjoy my passion, largely in part to my wonderful wife. She has been on more trips and we were finally able to reach a milestone of our own, seeing our first moose in Vermont-(more on that in a bit)

Since last writing, we have attended a few events, and ridden numerous trails. We made it up for our clubs annual Spaghetti dinner, and it was a huge success! Record numbers of people rode in by snowmobile or drove in by car. Prior to the dinner on Sunday we took a Saturday ride. Karen, Pete, and I cruised over to Lancaster, New Hampshire, trying to fill in some of the trails we had not ridden on. Following a roughly predetermined route,we rode by the Moore Dam. Built in 1956, it created the Moore Reservoir, which covers approximately 3490 acres on the Connecticut River. The building of this dam caused the flooding of several villages, including Pattenville, New Hampshire, and old Waterford, Vermont. Down the trail a little way, we passed by a covered bridge in Lunenburg, apparently under repair. Fun Fact: This 266 foot bridge, built in 1911, spans the Connecticut River. It is a two span bridge using William Howe's wood and steel design. He patented the Howe truss, which uses diagonal timber compression members and vertical iron tension members. This design was eventually used in metal bridge design as well.
We stopped for a quick snack,and went down the trail. We eventually ended up in Burke, and took a wrong turn, which brought us by the ski area. Circling back we found the right trail and headed down some familiar trails back toward home. Taking a detour into Greensboro Bend, we rode by the abandoned rail station. Greensboro Bend is so named because of the horseshoe bend the railroad takes through the village. Making the last loop towards home, we encountered a small pocket of heavy snow, lasting around ten minutes. In some cases the conditions were almost whiteout! The next day was the spaghetti dinner. Due to it being on Sunday, we did not ride in, but drove instead. The turnout was greater than expected, and a great time was had by all-yet I can't seem to locate my pictures from that day.

The next trip up was the weekend of Lincoln's birthday. With an extra day off from work because of the holiday,we were up on a Thursday evening.Much to our surprise there was an abundance of snow, and work to be done. Friday morning, we planned to head west to explore new frontiers with a couple of friends. They arrived at 8 and made their way over the high snowbanks so we could discuss our options. We headed west, towards a town called Eden, and had a nice loop picked out. As usual, our local club had groomed the trails smooth for our journey. Traveling through Danville, Greensboro, into Craftsbury, the trails were perfect. As we came into Craftsbury, the trail was difficult to follow in town. Then a local pointed the way, and we looped around a building, and over a narrow path behind a house, and the trail opened up again, and the groomer had just been through! As we rode along the trails were still perfect, hardly a track anywhere. We felt like we were the only ones out there. After a while we came upon a junction with a large parking area so we decided to stop, and confirm our location, and maybe have a snack and something to drink. It was a nice spot and had all the "comforts" of home. After a brief respite, we packed up and got ready to depart and head towards our next point of interest. As we were leaving, one of the snowmobiles wouldn't start! One of our party was extremely knowledgeable and the best mechanic of all of us, and yet we could not find out what the problem was. After a 1/2 hour or so past with no luck, the groomer was spotted coming down the trail.We flagged him down and discussed our options as to where was the best place to go from here. He told us Eden was our best best 7-8 miles away. Unfortunately this meant we would have to tow the disabled sled for this distance. There was a road closer, but then no way of contacting anyone. At least in Eden there was a convenience store which meant a phone(cell service was not available in the middle of nowhere).
With that the groomer departed, smoothing the trail ahead of us, hopefully making the tow a bit easier. One of our party left his mark on the trail, perhaps like bread crumbs in case we got lost? Hooking up the disabled sled(all of us carry tow ropes apparently)we got ready to leave.I went ahead to warn oncoming snowmobiles if needed about the towing, and Karen rode in back, much like the escort service you see on the highway surrounding a modular home. Towing in the woods can be quite a challenge, especially with the varied terrain. There were a couple of minor mishaps, but we finally reached civilization. After a few failed attempts, we found someone who had a friend with a truck, and for a nominal fee was glad to come down and take my friend and his snowmobile the 40 or so miles back to the hotel. Loading the snowmobile took 5 of us, and let me tell you it is much harder when you are wearing all that snowmobile gear. After loading the sled, our friend departed. Since we had lost a bunch of time with an unplanned breakdown, we looked at our present location, and determined it was kind of late to go where we originally planned, so we plotted an alternate route back home, which would give us some decent mileage and still get us home at a decent hour.

We travelled out East of Eden (pun intended), south through Wolcott, Elmore, and Hardwick. Eventually we came upon a logging operation. A large portion of the snowmobile trails are current and former logging trails, and so we share the trails when required. Imagine my surprise when a skidder pulled out from a side trail though. We followed him for close to mile before he reached the large staging area for the trees.
After we passed the skidder, we were moving along on some unfamiliar trails. I was leading the way, so hopefully I was making the right trail choices. The signs that clubs put up vary from county to county, and even from club to club. Some are very detailed, and others are, well, not so much. Sometimes you have to orient yourself to get the proper bearings, as the signs don't always match the trail maps.

So I chose the path for us to follow, heading back towards familiar territory, and suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I see something moving. I eased off the throttle, and turned my head and I saw them. 1, no 2, no 3 moose! Wading through the deep snow about 20 yards off the trail traveling parallel with the trail. I immediately stopped and pointed, and told Karen through our helmet communicators-"MOOSE!" We have been hoping to see a moose for several years now, and in the fall went on a moose tour to see them. But this was different. We were pretty up close and it was still daytime. The moose worked there way back onto the trail, as it was much easier for them to navigate on the packed surface of the snowmobile trail than the deep snow off trail. I slowly depressed the throttle, trying to get closer-but not too close- in order to get a few pictures. The moose zigged off the trail, then zagged across the trail into a small hollow behind some rocks, and this is when I got a few pictures.
Success! I was probably 50 feet away, which was close enough for me. If I was able to turn around I might have gotten closer, but the trail was too narrow, and I did not want to irritate them. In talking with the locals, the animals tend to travel the trails more towards the end of winter, as they are struggling more to find food, and walking through the woods takes a lot more energy. I can attest to that, just getting stuck off trail with a snowmobile can be an exhausting experience. After the moose moved behind the rocks, was passed safely by and made our way back to the lodge for the evening, where I sat down and planned out the next days ride The next day was a trip south to Groton, for the Groton snowmobile club's annual Chicken Dinner. Our friend could not fix his snowmobile, because the part that went was one that had to be ordered, so we were sad he couldn't join us. But off we went, meeting up with our club, and I think there were around 30 of us who rode down together. We arrived early in the dinner, and there was already parking issues. We managed to find a space to park and went in to enjoy a nice chicken dinner. This was a fund raiser for the Groton club, and we try and support as many local club events as possible. There were plenty of people and the chicken was fantastic!
After the dinner, we decided to head out on our own, to find a way back on some trails we hadn't ridden yet. This is the nice thing about our general area. There are many trails that loop around so you can get from one location to another in many ways. Small loops, large loops, allowing you to see various terrain, and enjoy the outdoors. The route I selected took us through Groton, Marshfield, Cabot, Peacham, Barnett, Saint Johnsbury, and home. Riding through Marshfield, heading toward Cabot, we passed an area with both snowmobile and cross country ski trails, and they were marked plain as day. There was no doubt the same groomer groomed both sets of trails, but based on the signs, my guess was the groomer was only too happy to groom the cross country trail in exchange for allowing the snowmobile trail to pass through the same property. One great thing about the snowmobile trails in Vermont is approximately 85 percent of the trails are on private land. This means private land owners open up their property for the snowmobilers enjoyment. They do this with no incentive or personal gain I might add. So we always try and respect this fact and stay on the marked trails, and give a wave when we see someone walking or working near the trails.

On the last portion of our ride, we encountered the worst trail I think I have been on. It was very bumpy, had lots of ruts, and was one we on which had to stop a few times to get a break from all the jolts our bodies were taking. After what seemed forever, we came over a rise, and saw the sign we needed to see. Welcome to the Danville trail system! From that point on the trails smoothed out, and we were back to floating on a carpet of white gold. As we got closer to town, another snow squall kicked up, but it was a pretty sight, with the sun and the snow cloud fighting each other. The last few miles, the snow picked up and we arived back at the lodge, ready for a hot dinner, and a good book. It was around 300 miles of riding over the 2 plus days. As we were relaxing, the snow was again falling, and the groomer could be seen going down our trail, creating the new carpet for the next ride.