Many of you took notice of my mention of a 3,000 mile journey in my last blog. No, I did not drive to Alaska, nor did I make the break for Kazakhstan (although that would be a super interesting drive). I also did not drive back and forth between the Eastern Mountain ranges (also totally reasonable and not altogether out of the question). Rather, I hit the road to drive West, to Idaho, where I am one of four new members on Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation’s Gold Team, and could not be more excited about it.
A LOT has happened since then. I’ve experienced so much excitement in returning to the mountains, so much joy in returning home, all of which will no doubt appear on this blog soon. But, before I go there, I want to take a moment to reflect on my past five years in Vermont.
Living in Vermont, for me, was a cultural experience. What began as as a foreign space, both geographically and socially, turned into a place I could consider mine, one where I grew and learned and settled in. There, under the green canopies, pouring rains, bursting foliage and rocky gaps, I met people who taught me a way of life that will shape mine, no matter where I go.
When I think about Vermont, I not only think of mapled sugars, frost heaves and Frost himself, but I think of the gains I made as a skier, student and person. I think about my forever teammates at Middlebury and SMS Elite, as well as the communities that created such supportive cultures to sustain them. I think of sticky morning rollerskis, Appalachian Trail adventures and peeper melodies. I think of black fly escape routes, black bear stakeouts and white frosty, frozen November mornings.
I think of all these things, the thing that I will miss, the Things that Happen in the East:
- Swimming holes.
I was never much for humid exercise, but am all about chilly dips, slips and dives afterwards. Off nearly every Eastern side road, dirt or otherwise, one can find a creek, river or brook that pools perfectly for an afternoon swim. You know you’re officially a local when you can name, find and rank at least two hand fulls of swimming holes in your area.
- Rollerski roads
Few places offer more mileage for the spandex clad and hi-vis oriented.
By my third summer in Vermont, I could tell you from which counties to find the best veggies, eggs, bread and meat. Farm to table never acted as a trend, but rather a way of life. From home meals to elegant restaurants, localism takes priority. Sometimes resembling a page from the hipster handbook (um..I only eat processed food if it’s craft.), Vermont’s dedication to the hand picked, brewed, mixed and chosen will follow me forever.
- Single track
Whether you’re in the woods of Southern Vermont, the mountains of Northern New Hampshire or the hills of Eastern Canada, you’re sure to find kilometers on kilometers of single track skiing winding through the trees. As a die-hard classic skier, nothing gets me going more than trails that privilege the kick and glide like these. They award the independent adventurer who chooses to follow the narrowest trail and are one of the best gems I found out East.
There’s something incredibly special about falling asleep and waking up to the sound of rain. Real rain. The kind that pounds, rushes and floods. It pours, in sheets, rivers and currents, providing an unusual sense of profound stability in its constancy. While I never loved going out to train in the rain, I love coming back from it, changing clothes, wrapping in a blanket and watching it pour. Once it stopped, which it eventually did, the smells, greenness and life it brought energized us enough to stay optimistic if/when it started again.
- Ski Culture
When I first got to college, it struck me that everyone I met had, at some point in their life, tried nordic skiing. Starting in elementary schools with Bill Koch league, leading into high school with the support of NENSA and high school racing before feeding into college, cross country skiing has ingrained itself as part of the Eastern ski culture. Anyone can attend a college carnival or local BKL race to see, whether it be a high or low snow winter, these people love to ski. Although I will see them as often as ever, I will miss my old teammates and the communities that supported us. After experiencing such a thriving culture, I’m all the more motivated to help it spread!
Thanks for the love, here’s to more adventures!
Same dream, different spandex.