Embrace Winter–Catamount Trail Assoc. offers backcountry ski courses.

catpondThe first Northeaster of the Winter visited nearby Woodstock and the October Country Inn a little earlier than usual this season.  A good foot of snow now blankets the hillsides and provides a visual cue that it’s time to prepare for Winter fun.  For many of our guests, this means backcountry skiing.  If this is a brand of Winter fun that interests you, the Catamount Trail (a cross-country ski trail that runs the length of Vermont) Association has significantly expanded its Get Out & Backcountry Instructional Series for 2015.


The Introduction to Overland Touring course is being offered on February 1 and 15.  This introductory course is aimed at the new skier looking to try point-to-point backcountry turning on the Catamount Trail or other similar trails using lightweight nordic touring equipment.  The course will emphasize skill demonstration, practice, evaluation, and feedback.  Likely participants might never have been on skis before, but will probably have some skiing experience and are now interested in getting off the beaten path.  The course covers different equipment types, layering strategies, moving forward efficiently, stopping/speed control, turning, and basic uphill technique.  The goal of this course is to introduce and reinforce the basic skills required to participate on an easy tour over gently rolling terrain.  Once comfortable with the skills presented during this course, you will be ready for the Intermediate Overland Touring course.

catwoodsThe Intermediate Overland Touring course is being offered on February 1, 8, 15, & 22.  It will take the form of a teaching tour where the group will explore easier backcountry trails in search of teachable moments.  The emphasis during this course will be learning by doing.  Topics similar to those in the introductory course will be covered but you will be practicing these skills and putting them to use under slightly more challenging conditions.  Once comfortable with the skills presented, you will be ready to participate in one of Catamount Trail Association’s introductory day tours.

TelemarkThe Telemark Turn Clinic is being offered January 25 at nearby Pico Mountain.  This course is for skiers looking to tackle more challenging terrain, or those who want to spice up tours by being able to take better advantage of skiable downhill areas.  This course will take place on easy, lift accessed, downhill terrain at a ski resort, and will emphasize skill demonstration, practice, and technique evaluation.  This is an introductory level class for the beginning and intermediate Telemark skiers looking to develop and refine their skills.

The Introduction to Mountain Touring course will be offered February 8 & 22.  This course is intended for expert level skiers who are new to exploring the backcountry.  This course will take the form of an instructional tour and will cover layering strategies, what it means to be prepared, navigation, efficient touring and uphill techniques.  At the end of the course you will be more prepared to safely spend a full day in the backcountry.


Woodstock celebrates the 150th anniversary of “Man and Nature.”

vermontThe October Country Inn provides hospitality and lodging to residents of other states and countries that travel to Vermont for the opportunity to experience and enjoy the unique set of activities and attractions this unusual state has to offer.  It is no accident that Vermont has managed to retain so much of its rural character and natural beauty.  A lot of credit for Vermont’s conservation ethic stems from the work of Vermont native George Perkins Marsh (1801-1882).  Marsh, born in nearby Woodstock, wrote Man and Nature in 1864. He is being honored for this seminal publication by the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park, Billings Farm & Museum, and the Woodstock Foundation with a November 21 and 22 two-day event entitled Landscapes of Hope: Celebrating the 150th Anniversary of Man and Nature.

George Perkins Marsh (1801-1882)

George Perkins Marsh (1801-1882)

Born in the brick building housing the National Historic Park that incorporates his name, Marsh spent his early life in a Vermont that was covered with natural forests. Through his personal involvement with clearing lands, and manufacturing and dealing in lumber, he had occasion to both observe and feel the effects of an injudicious system of managing woodlands and products of the forest.  Educated at Dartmouth College, Marsh had many careers.  He was a lawyer, newspaper editor, sheep farmer, mill owner, lecturer, politician, and diplomat.  Marsh was elected to Congress in 1842 where he was greatly influenced by John Quincy Adams whose foresight and ideas of government’s role in natural resource preservation and management anticipated those of Theodore Roosevelt.  In Man and Nature, Marsh was the first to raise concerns about the destructive impact of human activities on the environment.  No one before him had ever turned to the study of the earth as the home of humankind.

“Man, who even now finds scarce breathing room on this vast globe, cannot retire from the Old World to some yet undiscovered continent, and wait for the slow action of such causes to replace, by a new creation, the Eden he has wasted.” –George Perkins Marsh

Woodstock’s two-day celebration of Man and Nature will explore the impact of Marsh’s work to inspire and engage those who continue the legacy of caring for the land and the communities that it supports.  Following a 5:30 reception and book signing on Friday, November 21, at the Billings Farm Visitor Center in Woodstock, keynote speaker David Lowenthal (author of George Perkins Marsh: Prophet of Conservation) will give a talk at 6:00 entitled, Man and Nature at 150: Past, Present and Future, followed by a panel discussion with land-ethic leaders. (RSVP: jo_anne_dolan@nps.gov).  On Saturday, November 22, Conservation Conversations, a dialogue of hope and inspiration for stewardship will be held from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 at the Billings Farm Visitors Center followed by an afternoon of guided hikes and programs exploring the birthplace of George Perkins Marsh and stewardship in practice.