Sunday, March 18, 2012

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!

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