Making the Most of a Mid-Season Thaw

Last week January kicked into her thaw mode. Her once gracious gift of nice New England powder was melting at a rapid rate, leaving a pit in my stomach. I had to try and take advantage of what was left before it was totally gone, hoping that soon it would return again.

When the white blanketed mountains and the south facing slopes down in the valleys are brown, there’s a chance that higher up will still be snowy. It probably won’t be great but it’s usually worth it to take a chance on touring with your Nordic skis.

My friend Gary and I decided to do Section 7 of the Catamount Trail, which goes from South Road in Peru to Mount Tabor Rd in Landgrove. We knew the conditions wouldn’t be great, making this section a good choice since it was rated easy to moderate. We left a truck at the Mount Tabor Road and started from Peru. We started out on some rolling terrain at which we soon became masters of the herringbone. The conditions were not great. The trail was post holed, snowshoed out and it was icy. The weather though was quite nice, in the mid 30s and a little over cast. We thought we would be able to hammer out this section but boy were we wrong.

Gary on the trail.

The opening two miles were a bit of an adventure. We were starting to get into a groove when we came to a crossing and were greeted by some friendly loggers. There is quite a bit of logging activity going on and we had to walk a little ways to join the trail again. Gary was on waxless Nordic skis and I was experiencing klister for the first time on my back-country set up. Being a newbie with waxable skis I didn’t apply enough klister, so about three-quarters of the way through our trip I was losing grip. I was becoming jealous of Gary who seemed to be dancing up the climbs while I was struggling. Kicker skins were able to solve that problem.

The old Stone Cemetery.

After some near death descents we were in the home stretch arriving in the Little Michigan Pond area. The trail is re-routed here due to some beaver activity. It takes you past the Stone Family Cemetery where five members of the Stone family where buried between 1856-1905. We were tired and became a little concerned if we where going the right way with the re-route but we ended up back at the truck following the trail.

In total it took us around five hours at a conversational (sometimes cursing, or yelling to slam on the breaks because of water hazards) with around 11 miles of traveling. Although the conditions were hard pack and icy there is a tremendous base. Now that it’s cold again some fresh snow should make for fantastic skiing.


Greg Rems

Avid Vermont enthusiast, be it telemarking, cycling, running, hiking, or anything outside. Chef de Cuisine the Inn at West View Farm in Dorset, Vt. Living in Arlington.