Saturday, March 26, 2011

XC Skiing - Woodford State Park, VT

Spring? HA! Not in the higher elevations of southern Vermont! The snow is gone at home, but it's still too cold for any spring activities, so on a beautiful (brisk!) blue-sky day, Roy and I headed off to Woodford State Park, a popular skiing destination just east of, and hugely uphill from, Bennington. We didn't know if we'd be skiing or snowshoeing, so we brought both. We found over 2 feet of compacted base with an inch or two of new powder on top, so the snowshoes stayed in the car.

View near the park entrance

We started in the main park road, and then turned left and climbed uphill to the junction with the main hiking trail on the east side of Adams Reservoir. This would be more interesting skiing than the park road, so we took off through the woods. There was a lot of up and down on this trail, probably high-intermediate stuff given the somewhat slick conditions. Eventually, we reached the leantos near the end of the campground road and stopped for lunch.

Roy's GPS trace

Then, it was off to the George Aiken Wilderness, just out the south end of the park. There are no formal trails here, but enough skiers had preceded us that we just followed their tracks. We crossed several scenic beaver meadows, or possibly ponds, the snow gleaming in the bright sunshine.

We weren't quite in the Wilderness proper yet, but began following some other skiers on a very nice old road in the Green Mountain National Forest. After some steady but gentle climbing, we reached a point where we faced a steeper downhill, and decided to turn around and head back the way we'd come, possibly heading into the Wilderness and exploring some other ponds shown on the map.

At the point where we'd joined the westbound road, we turned right and headed south toward the Aiken. After thrashing through some spruce in a frozen swampy area, we began to climb again, in pretty tight quarters, still following ski tracks. Not relishing descending through this stuff, we called it a day and turned around and started back toward the park road.

Climbing up out of the campgrounds wasn't too bad, and the downhill run that followed was especially sweet. After about 6 miles and 4 hours, we reached the car after a satisfying day of exploring.

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