My good friend James and I hit the ground running like 8:30 Saturday morning, trying to pick the best way to go to miss the mainstream traffic and find the smooth trails for our final ride. We left St. Johnsbury, headed north and east. Leaving the hotel was a little ugly, as the first 1/2 mile was muddy, dirty, and snow-less. After a quick 20 miles we stopped for a quick photo op and chose the path to Canaan for the ride of the day.
The trails were totally smooth as glass, and we were amazed at the amount of snow still left for this time of year. Traffic was unusually light in the morning, partly because we were off the beaten path. The trails twisted, and turned, meandering through open fields and wooded stands.
We quickly developed a rhythm, lean right, lean left, accelerating, braking, around the corners, over the hill crests, until we hit the pipeline. When we hit the pipeline, the trail was wide, smooth, and flat. We saw a few people stopped at one of the intersections, the first people we saw so far that day. Then we connected to the power lines. About 2 hours into the ride and along comes the Groomer! YES!! That means really smooth trails for a little while. Well a little while turns out to be the next 25 miles or so. The power line trail is awesome riding. See if you can spot my friend James on the trail!
We reached Canaan around 1:00 just in time for lunch. The restaurant was pretty busy with snowmobilers (maybe because it was the only place in town), but the food was pretty good.
After lunch we headed west toward Norton, and from Norton, we headed Southeast to Island Pond. We filled up on gas, water, and some energy food. We went to a scenic overlook, from which we could see the pond of Island Pond, with the "island" in the middle of the pond.
After leaving the scenic overlook, we headed back down the trail, and promptly ran into a flock of turkeys heading into the woods, almost oblivious to us as they were walking slowly, and did not even speed up as we went by
We headed down the trail for a short way, and the trails out of Island Pond were, well rough. We quickly scanned the map, and picked an alternate route. We chose another "less traveled" path, which would eventually connect us back to the power lines, and back toward the hotel. We drove through dusk, and got back near the hotel around 8:00, too early to go home, so rode onto Danville, my new home-away-from-home, and had dinner @ a place called Goodfella's. After a nice Prime Rib and Chicken Parmesan dinner, we hit the trail one last time for the final ride home. Back @ 10:00 PM. a 12+ hour day of riding-total mileage 235 miles for the day.
The next morning, we both got up a little stiff and sore from the previous days ride. Only 1 thing to do. Go out and ride some more! We jumped on the sleds and took off toward Marty's in Danville for some hot soup and a sandwich, then down the rail bed into Walden, up to Coles Pond, around the loop back to the rail bed and to the car for a quick 50 miles. As the morning progressed, you could feel the snow's consistency changing. More and more you had that feeling-this was it- the last ride. As we drove back to the hotel to change and load the sleds up, it was apparent-the end. Game Over. We sadly knew it was indeed the last ride. But in 285 miles we hit no more than 20-30 miles that would be considered "bumpy" but even those were good compared to other trails we were on even this year so we can put our sleds to bed knowing the last ride was definitely worth it.
So as I wash my sled down and put it away in the shed (a sad thought)I leave you all with these final words-