New huts and campsites on canoe trails, a Guinness World Record, grants for recreation and a Colchester Causeway update.
New Canoe Campsites
There’s a new hut to snuggle into along The Northern Forest Canoe Trail, thanks to a collaboration with the Vermont River Conservancy.
The Nulhegan Hut sits at the confluence of the Nulhegan River and its east branch in the Northeast Kingdom, between Wenlock and Bloomfield. The beautiful, 14- by 18-feet, timber-frame design was built by students at Waitsfield’s Yestermorrow Design-Build School in early 2018. The building is insulated and outfitted with a wood stove for winter use, as well as a small kitchen, sleeping loft, screened porch, deck and mouldering privys.
As Karrie Thomas, Executive Director of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail points out, the new hut and improved portage trail will allow whitewater boaters to lap the Class III rapids below the hut, one of the best stretches of intermediate whitewater in Northern Vermont. “It’d be a great spot for a fishing trip, too,” she adds. The hut is expected to open for reservations this summer (via vermontriverconservancy.org), and the adjacent campsite will be in full swing this paddling season.
More good news for paddlers: this summer the Timothy C. Hurteau Paddlers’ Campsite opens in Fairfax. This new campsite was built by volunteers and students from the Laraway School on property conserved in partnership with the Vermont River Conservancy. It’s part of the Lamoille River Paddlers Trail and offers camping between Fairfax and Cambridge along the Lamoille River, for the first time.
A Record-Setting Ski Bum
On April 28, Bridgewater, Vt. resident Scott Howard broke the Guinness World Record for the most vertical feet skied in one calendar year.
As of press time, the 65-year-old had logged more than 6.6 million vertical feet in 175 days of skiing since June 1, 2017—109 of which were at Killington. The previous Guinness World Record was roughly 6 million vertical feet, skied by Canadian Pierre Marc Jette in 2015.
Howard meticulously documented his runs, (starting on Killington’s 2017/18 opening day on Nov. 8), using the smartphone application Trace Snow. His feat is currently undergoing rigorous review by the Guinness Book of World Records. “Doing it isn’t nearly as hard as proving it,” said Howard of the three-month review process, during which even Killington’s lift attendants are likely to be interviewed. “They’ll say, ‘oh yeah, that guy,’” said Howard.
When Howard retired three years ago from a sales job in the utility industry, he knew he wanted to ski more and keep up his passion for endurance sports. “As you get older, you find that some people fight old age, and some people say, ‘I’m tired,’” said Howard. “I fight it.”
Trace Snow lets users see how they rank against each other, allowing people across the world to compete for most vertical feet skied in a day or year. “It’s addicting,” said Howard of the competition.
OGE Grant Winners
In 2013, the folks at Outdoor Gear Exchange were looking for a way to give back to the Vermont community. Since then, the Burlington retailer’s Charitable Grant Fund has donated more than $38,000 in grants as large as $1,500 apiece to organizations around the state. In May, OGE announced the 2018 recipients. They include: Bristol Recreation Club for the construction of a pump track adjacent to Mount Abraham Union Middle and High School; Intervale Center for the installation of secure bike parking; the Middlebury Area Land Trust & Trail Around Middlebury for trail improvements along the Trail Around Middlebury; Richmond Mountain Trails for the development of two new multi-use trails in Richmond; South Hero Land Trust for the creation of an outdoor classroom behind Folsom Education and Community Center and Vermont Huts Association for the construction of an ADA-accessible ramp into their Chittenden Brook Hut.
A Break in the Line
The Burlington-based nonprofit Local Motion, which has operated the Colchester Causeway Bike Ferry since 2005, announced May 18 that the ferry will not run for the 2018 biking season.
Two weeks prior, 40-mph winds ripped across Lake Champlain Valley, building
waves that crashed against the Causeway. The waves ripped apart the 4-mile-long, 10-foot-wide gravel path that let cyclists connect from the Burlington bike path, via a short bike ferry ride, to the Champlain Islands. According to Local Motion Executive Director Karen Yacos, the bike ferry serves about 16,000 cyclists annually.
Causeway repairs will cost at least $563,000 but the town is hoping the state will secure Federal Emergency Response Agency funds for repairs, which could reduce their obligation to 10 percent of that, just $56,300.
As of press time, the causeway was still accessible to bikers and pedestrians up to the Law Island Bridge, about a mile out onto Lake Champlain. The annual Colchester Causeway 5k, 10K and 15K held June 2 was forced to shorten to just a 5K. Travelers can still take in the trail’s views of the lake but will have to find another way to reach the islands by bike.
Update from June 15, 2018:
Local Motion announced on June 5 that it will resume bike ferry service in July, following the completion of causeway repairs. In a press release, the Vermont Agency of Transportation announced on June 5 a joint effort with the Town of colchester and Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department to rebuilt the Colchester Causeway, targeting early July for reopening. As of June 15, a reopening date had not yet been announced.