A Decade in the Making: My First Backcountry Ski

I’ve been wanting to try backcountry skiing for almost exactly 10 years. The winter before I got pregnant with my first, I decided to invest in AT gear and get out into the woods. Then I got pregnant. Then I had a baby. Then I had another baby. Then the babies wanted to ski at the mountain. Then the boys became ripping snowboarders and joined a program that keeps them busy all day Saturday, and I finally went backcountry skiing– ten years later.

And it was glorious. Nemo dropped a couple feet of beautiful snow in the mountains on Friday, and we woke Saturday morning to clear blue skies. A day to get outside. As luck would have it, the girls and I had put this particular Saturday on the calendar weeks prior with no idea what the conditions would be like, so a clear day with fresh snow felt like a gift from above.

Image 14It wasn’t until we came to the first steep, untracked decline that I pondered the wisdom of choosing a five hour, “expert only” trail. I had never actually been back country skiing before, and looking down a narrow trail through the trees was intimidating to say the least. I watched my friend Amanda charge down and disappear into the woods, followed by Ali who let out a “whoop” and followed suit. It’s a thrilling feeling to be just a little bit scared, and to know you’re pushing your limits. Yes, I crashed. Yes, I landed in the trees. And, yes, the girls laughed at (with?) me. But after doing it once, the reward was miles and miles of roller coaster ups and downs through some of the most beautiful woods I’ve ever seen. After that first “whoop” of Ali’s, we were all hooting and hollering through the woods, reveling in the day and in our accomplishment.

Although I have lived in Vermont most of my life, I’ve only just learned that the backcountry terrain around Bolton is cherished as the best in the state. We stayed on the Catamount Trail the entire ski, from Bolton’s Nordic Center all the way over to Trapp’s Outdoor Center, but there were plenty of tracks heading down to various parking in Cotton Brook and Nebraska Valley too. The Catamount Trail is well marked, but tricky in some spots, so I would recommend heeding the signs that implore skiers to go with a group. We did “Section 22” of the trail, detailed here on the Catamount Trail website.

So, what adventures have been on your list for a decade? Maybe it’s time to cross one off the list. Yesterday’s ski opened a new door to adventure that I can’t wait to explore again. Happy trails!

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