21. Plan a Hut Trip
Stowe’s Stone Hut may be closed due to Covid-19 this season but there are plenty of other huts around the state. Shreck’s Cabin, a stone hut atop the Green Mountain Trails is the closest you might come to that experience, especially if you fatbike or skin up. Merck Forest has a series of dispersed huts and cabins that come with wood stoves and outhouses. They range from simple to downright cozy and are located on 3,100 acres high on a hill in the Taconics, near Manchester. If you want to get first tracks in the backcountry zones on Brandon Gap book the ski-in only Chittenden Brook Cabin. All of these can be booked through Vermonthuts.org.
22. Ski a Down-Home Hill
It used to be that villages around Vermont had their own backyard ski hills. Most of those have since disappeared. But a few have stayed strong and some are even being resurrected. Get a taste of community-supported skiing (think a CSA for skiing) at Hard’Ack in St. Albans (which has a cool terrain park), Mt. Ascutney (with a new rope tow and good backcountry skiing off the top), Northeast Slopes in Corinth (Glen Plake’s favorite Vermont ski area) or Cochran’s Ski Area in Richmond (if you haven’t been). You can even go smaller than that at place such as the Brattleboro Ski Hill, a T-bar-accessed slope operated by Living Memorial Park Snow Sports with night skiing on Fridays and Saturdays and $5 lift tickets (cash only).
23. Rev Up a Sled
If you’ve never driven a snowmobile, it might be hard to understand the allure. But gun up a sled and fly along at 35 mph and you may change your mind. While many ski towns offer guided snowmobile tours (Vermont Snowmobile Tours operates in Mount Snow, Okemo, Killington and Stowe), if you really want to get off the beaten track, head up to St. Johnsbury and head out for a two-hour tour with NEK Adventures.
24. Take A Winter Photo Workshop
“I think winter is the most beautiful time of year to be a photographer. I love seeing the simplicity created by a heavy blanket of snow and photographing the clean lines and the pureness of the countryside that only appears in winter,” says Loren Fisher, a professional who has shot for newspapers around the world, who is teaching an outdoor winter photography workshop Jan. 22-24, out of Woodstock (see lorenphotos.com) or take a Hunt’s Photo Adventure course (also out of Woodstock), Feb. 4-7. Both focus on landscapes.
25. Make the Plunge
Some people swear by winter swimming – and in non-Covid years, events such as Kingdom Games Winter Swim – a swim competition held in a “pool” cut out of the ice of Lake Memphremagog is for them. For others, just jumping in, screaming and scrambling out as fast as they can is more their speed, and Burlington’s annual Penguin Plunge may be their ticket. This year both events have gone virtual. You can log your own Winter Swim the week of Feb. 20-27 and send in a photo to Kingdom Games. The only rules? No distances, no timing required, you just have to wear a bathing suit. There will be prizes and even a Zoom “Jammies and Vodka Shooter Party” to celebrate on Feb. 27. The Penguin Plunge to benefit the Special Olympics is also virtual. Send in a photo of your personal plunge event, done anytime between Feb. 6 and March 27. On that day, there will be a live-streamed virtual party with photos and videos of the plunges shared. As the Penguin Plunge states: There will be water, you will be cold, you will have goosebumps, whether it’s at the Burlington Waterfront, at home, or somewhere in between.