Staytripper, January 2021

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Outfitted for Fun Umiak’s winter adventure tours


Slippery Slope

7 sledding hills to try this season


Ice Ice Baby Skating the loop at Lake Morey


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Fresh Tracks

TOUR DE FORCE......................... 4 Umiak Outdoor Outfitters offers wintry adventures for everyone BY DAN BOLLES

JA N UA RY 2021

A new year symbolizes a clean slate. It might not be easy to wipe away the challenges and heartbreak of 2020, but we can enter 2021 with renewed hope for the days ahead. With a new president set to take office and more COVID-19 vaccines on the way, change is already in the air. Here in Vermont, we see the possibilities in a generous snowfall. Since everybody loves to make fresh tracks, we sought out the white stuff for this issue of Staytripper, Seven Days’ road map to safely rediscovering the state during the pandemic. Even if socializing is still limited, we can commune with Mother Nature off-piste on powdery slopes, shooting down a sledding hill on a Mad River Rocket, or carving the ice on frozen Lake Morey. Or, for a new perspective, take a winter birding walk at the Green Mountain Audubon Center. You’ll likely realize two things: First, we’re never truly alone. And second, as Emily Dickinson wrote, “‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers.”

WANDER LAND........................... 6


Getting lost, and found, on Montpelier’s North Branch Trails BY CHELSEA EDGAR

LET IT SLIDE................................. 8 It’s all downhill at these seven sledding spots BY KEN PICARD


THE LIGHT STUFF....................... 10

For sculptor-designer Clay Mohrman, everything is illuminated BY PAMELA POLSTON


Stowe Underhill


8 Huntington


Color the bear; identify the birds!



St. George


12 Fairlee

Haymaker Bun/The Arcadian.............. 17 Green Mountain Audubon Center........ 18 King Arthur Baking School.................. 19

19 Norwich


Exploring the state? Follow the pins to find the fun in this issue.


ON THE COVER: Backcountry skiing at Bolton Valley

St. Johnsbury








WALKING ON WATER................ 12 Skating and other winter sports at Lake Morey Resort






Tour de Force Umiak Outdoor Outfitters offers wintry adventures for everyone BY DA N BOL L E S •


ki resorts like Stowe, Sugarbush and Jay Peak are world-renowned winter playgrounds — but they’re not the last word on winter fun in Vermont. There are myriad ways to enjoy the snowy Green Mountains beyond blasting through powder on skis and snowboards. Whether you’re a hard-core winter junkie craving backcountry thrills or a family looking for a more relaxed and scenic outing — say, dogsled rides or a moonlit snowshoe trek — Umiak Outdoor Outfitters’ Stowe location offers guided adventures to suit a variety of tastes and levels of temerity. Even with the pandemic curtailing all manner of activities, most of the company’s programming — minus its popular brewery tours — is still available, particularly to locals. “If it’s Vermonters, we’ll do all kinds of fun stuff,” Umiak program director Michael Porcelli said. Outof-staters are welcome, too — provided they abide by Vermont’s quarantine restrictions. Umiak has enacted enhanced sanitizing protocols for all of its equipment. And all bookings are now private, meaning you will recreate only with the people in your party. Ideally that’s just people in your household, though visitors who are staying together would also be considered a single party, according to Porcelli. Umiak is headquartered in Stowe but has summer locations in Richmond, at the Waterbury Reservoir, and along the Winooski and Lamoille rivers. By far, Umiak’s most popular winter outing is its showshoe and tubing tour.



“It’s been our No. 1 seller the last three years,” Porcelli said. He declined to reveal precisely where in the Stowe area the tour takes place, out of concern for overcrowding. But the tour begins with a snowshoe trek along scenic trails running through sugarbushes and with stunning views of the Green Mountains. Along the way, you’ll learn about the history of snowshoeing, the surrounding region and maple syrup. And then you’ll arrive at an epic sledding hill. “It’s a big hill!” Porcelli enthused. “You hike up with your tube, and then you sled down as many times as you want. It’s a good time.” Reviewers on the travel website Tripadvisor agree. “The adventure was great exercise and the day was perfect,” wrote a mother of two from Connecticut last February. “You can get some beautiful photos along the way. Thumbs up.” “We enjoyed the day so much that my wife and I decided to buy our own snowshoes,” wrote another reviewer. Interestingly, Porcelli noted, the tour tends to attract more adults than kids. One reason might be that sledding is easier than skiing or snowboarding, so it’s a more accessible and familiar activity for those who want to enjoy the outdoors but aren’t exactly ready for black diamonds and moguls. “We get people who’ve never even seen snow,”

Clockwise from top left: Tubers climbing the sledding hill; guests on a snowshoe and tubing tour; a cross-country skier; a snow tuber; and sled dogs


Porcelli marveled. “But people hear ‘tubing,’ and it’s on.” For those seeking a more relaxed pace, Umiak offers both daytime and evening dogsled rides at Stoweflake Mountain Resort & Spa’s golf course. As with the snowshoe and tubing tour, an educational component comes with the thrill ride. “It’s informational and exhilarating,” Porcelli said. You’ll meet the mushers — and, most importantly, the dogs — and learn all about dogsledding. Then it’s off for a 15- to 20-minute jaunt over the river and through the woods — or at least around the golf course. “It’s more of a ride than a tour, but people love it,” Porcelli said. “It sells out every weekend.” For an activity that’s not quite as daring as tubing but more active than the dogsled rides, he suggested either of Umiak’s two evening snowshoeing tours. On the Gourmet Fondue Tour, guests traverse private trails in Stowe before ending up at the Fritz Bar at the Stowehof hotel. There they enjoy a three-course fondue dinner featuring Cabot cheese and Laughing Moon Chocolates. “People just eat it up,” Porcelli said, pun presumably intended. The other option is the Moonlight Cabin Tour, in which guides lead visitors to a hidden sugar shack in the woods where a roaring fire awaits — as well as Cold Hollow hot cider, Cabot cheese and crackers. Along the way, guides help guests gaze at the stars, identifying constellations, planets and other heavenly highlights.

People hear “tubing,” and it’s on. MICHAEL PORCELLI

“Coming back, it was dark and snowing,” wrote one Tripadvisor reviewer, “so it was extra special.” For more adventurous folks, Umiak also offers Nordic and alpine touring backcountry ski outings. Both include instruction so that even those who have never stepped into cross-country skis or slipped on backcountry skins can jump right in. Porcelli said the backcountry tours, which happen along the trail system in the Sterling Valley with views of Stowe, are especially stunning. “It’s really beautiful,” he said. In addition to Umiak’s COVID-19 protocols, Porcelli stressed general winter safety for anyone interested in the company’s programming. Wear layers, he advised, ideally including a moisture-wicking tech shirt as a base layer. And leave your cotton sweaters at home; they trap sweat and leave you cold and wet. “Cotton kills,” he said. He added that all Umiak backcountry guides carry Spot X satellite messaging systems in case of emergency, since cell service is nonexistent deep in the woods. During the pandemic, and out in the backcountry in general, Porcelli said, “Our biggest concern is keeping everybody safe.” m

INFO Umiak Outdoor Outfitters, 849 S. Main St., Stowe, 253-2317,




Wander Land Getting lost, and found, on Montpelier’s North Branch Trails BY CH ELSEA EDGAR •


ometimes I’m in the mood for the exact midpoint between hiking and walking, which is rambling. A ramble is a hike without a destination, or a more arduous form of walking. An ideal ramble involves no route planning whatsoever and a moderate probability of getting a little lost. By this definition, Montpelier’s NORTH BRANCH TRAILS are prime rambling territory. The 8.4-mile network, completed in the fall after three years of construction, traverses 195 acres of fields and forests. I am a worst-case-scenario mongerer at heart; whenever I engage in an outdoor excursion, I like to calculate how far I’d have to run screaming in any direction before I encountered another human being. Given its proximity to downtown



Montpelier, the North Branch Trail system scores favorably on the screaming index. So, on a Sunday in early December, a friend and I set out from Burlington to Montpelier — in separate vehicles, because pandemic safety — with the intention of traipsing aimlessly through the woods. Rambling requires nutritional fortification, and it just so happens that I am incapable of driving past Exit 9 on Interstate 89 without stopping at RED HEN BAKING in Middlesex for a chocolate almond croissant. After I eat one, I become afflicted with Paul Hollywood syndrome, in which I say the words “lamination” and “bootery” (for the uninitiated, this is “Great British Bake Off”-speak for “buttery”) over and over again for some minutes. I was blissfully incapacitated by the croissant I had on this visit; the sandwich I ordered — turkey,

pickled zucchini and pimento cheese on chewy, holey bread — also did not disappoint. Normally, I like to eat at the picnic tables at Camp Meade, the whimsically appointed green space behind Red Hen where one can behold, among other things, a sculpture of a giant pencil. But the windchill factor discouraged al fresco lunching, so I hopped back on I-89 toward Montpelier and the Sparrow Farm Trail, where I hoped to start my North Branch ramble. I had discovered the Sparrow Farm Trail over the summer, when I interviewed outdoor advocate and Montpelier resident Mirna Valerio. We’d met at an unmarked spot near an open field on North Street, which begins a few blocks from the center of downtown and quickly turns to dirt as it rises toward East Montpelier, with sweet

The key to rambling is that you don’t think too hard about which fork you take. views of Camel’s Hump and the Worcester Range to the west. I thought I knew exactly where I was going, so I drove and drove, until I reached the verifiable end of where this unmarked trailhead could possibly be and concluded that it had existed only in my imagination. Feeling defeated, I signaled my friend in the car behind me that we should turn around and choose a less Narnia-like spot to begin our journey. This is how we ended up at the Montpelier Recreation Field, where we could access the North Branch River Path and a cat’s cradle of spur trails. We brought along our snowshoes, which we definitely did not need, since there was barely a dusting on the ground. (PSA: Nearby ONION RIVER OUTDOORS offers free snowshoe day rentals if you use them to tromp around the North Branch network.) To my modest relief, a sign at the entrance proclaimed that the park was closed to cyclists for the season; colliding with a mountain biker would not be among my anxieties that day. We set out on the North Branch River Path in the direction of our hearts, which was left. (The key to rambling is that you don’t think too hard about which fork you take.) The trail follows the Winooski River for a little more than half a mile, intersecting along the way with side trails that all seemed to be named after birds — the Swallowtail Trail, Hermit Thrush Hill, Grouse Grind and, of course, the elusive Sparrow Farm Trail, which I was still determined to reach. But to try to find it would have undermined the concept of rambling; we had to happen upon the trail accidentally, or it wouldn’t count. Eventually, we turned right and started up a long, steepish slope. Not all of the trails were marked by name; the one we took, labeled 12, turned out to be Grouse

Grind. As we got deeper into the woods, a storybook-feeling forest of tall hemlocks and paper birch, a light snow began to fall, which precipitated a light bout of panic: What if the snow suddenly got heavy and covered our tracks? What if we never found our way back to the car? What if the cold drained our phone batteries and — God forbid — we had to ask another human being for directions? Amazingly, none of these things came to pass. Instead, we crossed several picturesque streams, passed one extremely committed jogger with cross-country ski poles and, simply by putting one foot in front of the other, found ourselves on the Sparrow Farm Trail. The trail runs along the perimeter of a field, where a herd of kind, lazy-looking cows huddled together for warmth, unbothered by human drama. We paid our respects, then intuited our way back. In total, we walked almost six miles, an exertion that merited a snack stop in Montpelier before heading back to Burlington. But first, we ducked into BUCH SPIELER RECORDS, on Langdon Street, for a dose of vinyl and the excellent Gothic lettering of its logo. Then we meandered next door to the GETUP VINTAGE, where I waxed slightly existential at the sight of so many cool pants. If I wear cool pants and nobody sees them, are they still cool? Is anyone even wearing pants these days? Have pants been divested of all meaning? I contemplated these bleak possibilities as we walked over to RABBLE-ROUSER CHOCOLATE & CRAFT CO. on Main Street. But then I glimpsed a dachshund resplendently arrayed in a bright-red sweater and red leather booties. This creature gave me hope. If the dachshunds of Montpelier haven’t given up on the world, I reasoned, then neither should I. m

Clockwise from left: The woods along the Norch Branch Trails; the Getup Vintage; the Sparrow Farm Trail; and Buch Spieler Records

In the area • • • • • •





Let It Slide It’s all downhill at these seven sledding spots



hoosing the “best” sledding hills in Vermont is a fool’s errand, akin to picking the best beaches in California or the best pizza in New York City. Once the Green Mountain State turns white, word of mouth and a modest amount of searching will reveal a plethora of opportune spots for getting your adrenaline rush on a long, steep downhill run. Still, it helps to have a few recommendations to get started. Bombing down Lincoln Gap on sleds may be great for a carload of teens, but it’s probably not the best choice for families with small children. And, unlike at ski resorts, no one posts green circles, blue squares or double black diamonds on hills meant for sleds, toboggans, tubes and saucers. The seven slopes listed below are free and on public land unless otherwise indicated. For those who decide to slide on private property, please be mindful of landowners and respect all signage, fences, livestock and parking restrictions. Also, due to the pandemic, some private hills have adopted extra restrictions, so be sure to call ahead or check their websites before heading out. Finally, regardless of whether you call it “sledding” or “sliding,” be kind to your brain and outfit all children and adults with helmets, so that your hill thrills don’t end on a downer. 8


1. Burlington Country Club 568 S. Prospect St., Burlington

This hill is located on private property, but Burlington-area sledders of all ages have for years flocked here once the snow flies. From the club parking lot, walk west until you spot the obvious downhill run. Depending upon riders’ size and appetite for adventure, they can push off at several different points. The terrain is wide and diverse, with a long run-out at the bottom. Recognizing the public’s heightened need for recreational opportunities during the pandemic, in December the country club removed its “No trespassing” signs, effectively permitting people to sled

there. But be forewarned: The hill is easily accessible to students from the University of Vermont, Champlain College and much of Burlington, so it can get crowded after a fresh snowfall.

2. Casey’s Hill 68 Pleasant Valley Rd., Underhill

Generations of Underhill residents have enjoyed sledding on this town-owned property, which offers steep and wideopen terrain, with no obstacles or major hazards, and more than 300 feet of runout at the bottom. Casey’s Hill, which gets plenty of use, especially on bluebird days after a major snowstorm, is one of the most scenic spots in Chittenden County for sledding, with excellent views of nearby Mount Mansfield.

3. LaPlatte Nature Park Shelburne, right behind the Shelburne Post Office

This location offers several good sledding options, depending upon riders’ skill levels. A large hill to the north is long, wide and gentle, with a run-out that stops at a small creek. The larger

Sledder on a Mad River Rocket

Sled Heads: Vermont Companies That Can Help You Slide Local


There’s more to sledding in Vermont than just mountainous terrain and reliable snow. This state is also home to companies that make downhill sleds and toboggans that are a joy to ride and are built to last. So before purchasing one that was mass-produced in an overseas tropical climate, check out these local options that will keep your greenbacks in the Green Mountain State.

bowl immediately to the south, directly behind the Shelburne Post Office, is steeper, faster and bumpier, and eventually leads into the woods. A sign at the post office advises drivers not to park in the employee lot.

This privately owned golf club is close to downtown Hinesburg. From the club parking lot, an east-facing slope starts steep and narrow but quickly opens up into a very wide and long downhill run that eventually banks southward. With the exception of a cluster of trees at the top, the hill provides plenty of wide-open terrain that’s safe for sliders of all ages. Be advised that the club does not officially endorse sledding on its property, so sled at your own risk.

carved into the side of the mountain, similar to a luge Mad River Rocket or bobsled run, and is more than a quarter-mile long. The mountain offers other spots to ride, but the chute is far and away the best bang for your buck. Speaking of bucks, Sharp Park charges a parking fee of $10 per vehicle. Snow tube rentals are $20, but the parking fee is waived for those renting two or more tubes. Sliding is free with your own equipment. Note: Helmets are mandatory for all children and recommended for everyone. Due to COVID-19, the bathrooms are closed indefinitely, but hot chocolate is still available for purchase. All visitors are asked to sign in beforehand for contacttracing purposes.

5. Hubbard Park

7. Marshall Hill

400 Parkway St., Montpelier

282 Park St., Stowe

4. Rocky Ridge Golf Club 7470 Route 116, St. George

By far the most popular sledding hill in Montpelier, Hubbard Park attracts sliders of all ages. Little ones can ride the smaller, gentler hills located to the right of, and just above, the main sledding hill. The Montpelier Parks Department asks sledders and snowboarders who perform jumps to do so on the sides and top half of the hill only and to be mindful of other sliders. And be forewarned: A berm at the bottom of the hill is meant to keep sledders off the road. However, when conditions are icy, it’s easy to sail right over it.

6. Sharp Park 204 Cobble Hill Rd., Milton

Privately owned Sharp Park provides a unique snow-tubing experience. Unlike most sled hills, this one has a tube chute

In the 1970s, Marshall Hill operated as a ski slope with a 450-foot T-bar lift. In August 2013, the Town of Stowe purchased the land and made it accessible to sledders. Today, the south-facing hillside is broad, long and very steep, but the open meadow at the bottom allows plenty of room to slow down and catch your breath after a long and thrilling ride down.

MAD RIVER ROCKET, WARREN: When Warren architect Dave Sellers invented his unconventional sled in 1987, he fulfilled his goal of building one that was safer and more maneuverable than a traditional sled or toboggan, for sliding down Prickly Mountain’s backcountry slopes without crashing into trees. He never imagined that one day, his Mad River Rocket, as it’s called, would become a cult classic among young sliders who use it for flying off cliffs and performing freestyle tricks such as backflips, rail slides and barrel rolls. The Mad River Rocket is short, lightweight and made from durable polyethylene. Unlike typical sleds or toboggans that riders sit or lie on, the Rocket rider kneels on foam kneepads in a crouched position and steers by leaning left or right. Nylon straps fastened across the back of the legs enable the rider to carve sharp turns like a skier or snowboarder, leaving their hands free for balancing, maneuvering and braking. The rocket is available at many of Vermont’s independently owned outdoor gear shops. Learn more at NORTON’S VERMONT TOBOGGANS, WEST FAIRLEE: Most of the time, flooring contractor Glen Norton wants his pieces of wood to be as straight as possible. But when the winter months approach, his work takes a different turn — deliberately bent into the shape of a traditional wood toboggan. Norton is founder and owner of Norton’s Vermont Toboggans, which builds handcrafted and customized toboggan sleds for adults and children. The idea began in 2007 when Norton, a Randolph native, was in a hardware store with his father, Gary, and the two spotted a four-foot toboggan for sale for $300. As Norton recalled, it was cheaply made, with thin wooden rails that were held together with staples. He realized that if he could figure out how to bend the wood properly, he and his dad could build one far better. “That was a real process because, back then, there wasn’t anything on the internet about how to build a toboggan,” he recalled. But after countless hours of trial and error, Norton built a contraption that, he says, “came to me in a dream.” He used steam to bend the nose of the wooden rails so they still fit together properly. Norton starts getting orders in November and builds them in his shop in West Fairlee. Though most customers are locals looking to ride with their families, he’s also built racing toboggans for the U.S. National Toboggan Championships. All the wood used in Norton’s toboggans — primarily ash, oak and cherry — is locally sourced. He also makes kids’ sleds and gets calls every year from people asking him to repair old wooden sleds or toboggans they used when they were kids. Learn more at Norton’s Green Mountain Family Toboggan





The Light Stuff For sculptor-designer Clay Mohrman, everything is illuminated BY PA ME L A P OLSTON •



lay Mohrman’s installation “Radiant Thought” might be the most comforting artwork ever. As you enter the darkened second-floor gallery in Burlington’s BCA Center, parting heavy curtains to do so, the suspended assemblage greets you with slowly pulsing lights. You’re immediately aware of sound — oceanic oscillations, a heartbeat, a disembodied female voice. “As you settle into the space around you, find a comfortable place to observe,” she says invitingly. You sit on a nearby bench, obeisant. The voice continues on, gently guiding your awareness to your breath, your hands, the top of your head. Finally: “Visualize your entire body, in this space, right here, relaxed and at peace. Can you see it?” While this calming audio is essential to “Radiant Thought,” the tangible installation is an eight-foot sculpture that seems to hover in the middle of the room. Its spherical shape is created with several thousand narrow strips of white Plexiglas, interspersed with 24 round LED bulbs that intermittently go off and on, dim and brighten. Upon closer inspection, you can see the nearly invisible filaments that suspend each of the sculpture’s pieces from a windowpanelike structure on the ceiling. In the darkest season, and after a very dark year, visitors are likely to find this multisensory masterpiece as soul soothing as it is beautiful. That’s essentially what the artist had in mind — though he couldn’t have anticipated Gov. Phil Scott’s pandemic prescription to “light the way” in Vermont. Those who can’t make it to the gallery in person can still seek out the virtual exhibition tour available on BCA’s website. Mohrman, a 29-year-old Burlington designer best known locally for his lamps made with driftwood, created “Radiant Thought” as a “personal response to emotional processing and managing anxiety,” according to the website. “The sculpture was my attempt to make some more personal work,” he elaborated in a phone interview. “Lighting is notorious for helping anxiety. I work with it every day, so it was easy to connect.” Stressing the therapeutic impact of art in public spaces, Mohrman said his


four-foot-diameter sphere and an 18foot archway — for the Lodge at Spruce Peak in Stowe. But “Radiant Thought” is Mohrman’s most ambitious and multifaceted work to date. To prepare for creating it, he considered more than its physical manifestation; he also studied how the brain processes information. “The piece is a loose metaphor for the neural network

Take a snow break with us! We are on VAST Corridor 7, between Jay Peak and Smuggler’s Notch.



installation is “imbued with purpose.” And achieving it required the inclusion of some state-of-the-art technology. Mohrman credited University of Vermont senior George Philbrick with building a computer using Arduino components that controls the pacing and interaction of light and sound in “Radiant Thought.” “We are exceptionally pleased with it,” said Heather Ferrell, BCA’s curator and director of exhibitions. “I so enjoyed working with Clay over the past two years. And people have really enjoyed going to the second floor after seeing ‘Unprecedented?’ — about the depressing events of 2020 — and being able to relax.” She wishes she had another place to install the work, she said, after this exhibition closes. Not surprisingly, Mohrman’s early forays into illumination were more rudimentary. Originally from Boston, he fell in love with lighting while studying product design at Central Saint Martins, a constituent college of University of the Arts London. His first creation was “a portable lamp you can carry around,” he said. The joke at school, Mohrman added with a laugh, was that “your last main project would turn out to be your career.” Indeed, he then went to work for a lighting company in Massachusetts. “I was the only creative in a sea of engineers,” he said. “I basically made the [fixtures] pretty, and they designed the guts. I learned a lot.” After Mohrman moved to Burlington four years ago, he decided to work with wood — specifically pieces of driftwood — that he began to craft into sculptural lamps. A year later, he participated in the Jump/Start program at the city’s maker space, Generator. “We were guinea pigs in the best way possible,” Mohrman said, explaining that the course aims to help artist-entrepreneurs get a handle on “the financial side, marketing, where and how to sell.” Though Mohrman initially worked from a small studio at S.P.A.C.E. Gallery on Pine Street, he’s now at Generator full time. His lamps will be available for sale from his revamped website, he said, beginning in January. He has previously made some larger-scale sculptures, including a pair of illuminated wood pieces — a


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— the patchwork of explosions that happen in our brains,” he said. And it was through his personal struggle with anxiety, Mohrman noted, that he found meditation. Hence the installation’s audio component, voiced by his friend and collaborator Brittany Mae. What’s next for Mohrman? He’ll continue creating unique lamps for customers. But he also aims to make “purpose-driven work, manipulating the viewer to have a specific response,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to pursuing this thread.”

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Above: Clay Morhman with his driftwood lamps in 2018 Opposite page: “Radiant Thought” installation by Mohrman

INFO “Radiant Thought” by Clay Mohrman is on view through January 30 at BCA Center in Burlington. Masks and social distancing required. Learn more at and SEVEN DAYS STAYTRIPPER JANUARY 2021


Walking on Water Skating and other winter sports at Lake Morey Resort BY M ARGARET GRAYSON •

INFO Lake Morey Resort, 82 Clubhouse Rd., Fairlee, 333-4311,




or anyone whose vision of iceskating involves tight loops at an indoor rink, dodging the flailing limbs of children and hearing “All I Want for Christmas Is You” blasted through speakers, the skating loop at Lake Morey Resort in Fairlee may come as a surprise. The four-and-a-half-mile loop, which the resort touts as the longest outdoor skating track in the United

States, traces the edge of the lake under open sky. On the interior of the lake, resort staff clear a dozen smaller rinks. And if you bring your own skates, it’s free to enjoy. The family-owned Lake Morey Resort was originally built in 1905, though the building has since been expanded. In the summer, visitors might play a round of golf on its 18-hole course or take a hike at nearby Echo

Mountain. In the fall, when there’s not a pandemic, the resort’s halls often fill with conference attendees. But in the winter, it’s all about the ice, which is usually thick enough for skating by mid-January. During a normal winter, the resort would host three separate pondhockey tournaments for teams from WALKING ON WATER

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Clockwise from top left: Frozen trail on Lake Morey at sunrise; ice skaters on the lake; a historic photo of summertime at Lake Morey Resort; small skating rinks on the lake




all over New England, according to business development director Sarah Howe. On a sunny weekend day, there might be 500 to 700 people out on the skating loop. While things will look different this year, and hockey tournaments are on hold, Howe is hopeful that skating can remain a socially distanced winter outlet for locals. “We think that people will be just as interested in doing it this winter as any other winter,” she said. “It’s one of the activities in Vermont that people can [still] do, especially as an alternative to skiing.” Though the skating is free, the resort does rent out skates, helmets and more from a large ballroom by the shore. Mostly it rents Nordic skates, Howe said, which have longer blades that are flat instead of concave, so they don’t cut into the ice as much. They’re typically better for longer distances on rough outdoor ice, whereas hockey or figure skates offer better grip for stops and turns. Skate rentals are free for overnight guests. Not everyone feels confident with their feet strapped to a metal blade, so the resort also stocks Kicksparks — sleds with handlebars and metal runners that originated as a means of transportation in Nordic countries. Users wear regular shoes and push themselves forward by kicking a foot back, balancing on the runners as they slide ahead. The contraption resembles a dogsled minus the dogs. “It’s an alternative for someone who maybe isn’t comfortable on skates. [There’s] less balance required,” Howe said. “We’ll have some people who 14


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Walking on Water « P.12

maybe are disabled, and they’ll use this instead.” For those who prefer an alternative kind of winter traverse, the resort’s golf course will be open for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, and equipment for those activities is also available for rent. If sitting is more your thing, Howe said many people set up ice-fishing rigs on the lake, complete with chairs and warming huts. Of course, the traditions around ice-skating — huddling up with a mug of hot chocolate and taking an indoor break to warm your toes, for example — will be different at Lake Morey this year. The resort’s lounge is open for lunch by reservation. Except for guests of the resort, who must pledge that they’re free of COVID-19 symptoms, skaters shouldn’t expect to be able to use the restroom inside the building. As an alternative, the Town of Fairlee will supply public restrooms at the town beach parking lot. Typically, most of the resort’s guests come from outside the state, Howe said, so she’s not sure how the winter season will shake out in terms of lodging.

The four-and-a-half-mile skating loop traces the edge of the lake under open sky.

Left: Ice skaters on Lake Morey Above: Aerial view of the skating trail and small skating rinks on the lake

Visitors to Vermont are currently required to quarantine for two weeks. Howe said she wasn’t aware of any visitors who were planning the kind of long-term visit that would require. The hotel itself is relatively unassuming, though it does offer a pool, a movie room and some truly psychedelic carpeting. The main attraction is undoubtedly the scenery, visible through wide windows surrounding the lounge. In some of the rooms overlooking the lake, the view from the windows doesn’t even include the ground — just water, mountains and sky. “It feels like a cruise ship,” Howe said. Skaters should be aware that pond

ice can be fickle. While the skating trail is regularly cleared of snow, the quality of the surface is dependent on the weather, Howe explained. The resort has a Zamboni for hockey tournaments but doesn’t use it to smooth the trail. “A warming day, where people are not using the ice, and then a hard freeze at night makes beautiful, flat ice,” Howe said. “But on a beautiful sunny, warm day, you have, typically, a lot of people using the ice. Multiple days of that can create rougher conditions.” So, though it may seem counterintuitive, pray for a cold snap if you’re planning a skating trip. m ST2V-OGE123020-Right 1



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Kids’ Activity Page REV. DIANE SULLIVAN


Image Match Match the photos of each bird with its name.

1. ____ Black-capped chickadee

4. ____ Bald eagle

2. ____ Common redpoll

5. ____ Great horned owl








E ANSWERS: 1.E, 2.C, 3.D, 4.A, 5. B

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From top: Latte and cinnamon bun at Haymaker Bun; bucatini Amatriciana at the Arcadian

7 Bakery Lane, Middlebury, 989-7026,,

On the aptly named Bakery Lane in Middlebury is a two-in-one business — Haymaker Bun and the Arcadian — that’s joined by ownership, locale and a menu item that’s pop-in-your-mouth delicious. The owners are married couple Caroline and Matt Corrente. Caroline is the pastry chef at Haymaker, a morning café that serves brioche buns, pastries and cakes, along with coffee, tea and espresso drinks. Matt is the chef of the Arcadian, an evening Italian restaurant known for housemade pastas, seafood dishes and craft cocktails. The location is a trilevel building with a wall of windows that overlooks Otter Creek. And the menu item that ties the two eateries together? A mini bun, light and twisty with rosemary olive oil and Parmesan. It In the area… comes from Caroline’s bakery and is an ideal accompaniment • BLUEBERRY HILL OUTDOOR CENTER, to a plate of pasta and a salad Goshen, from Matt’s kitchen. • MIDDLEBURY SNOW BOWL, The Correntes opened their Hancock, restaurants in November 2018. • TRAIL AROUND MIDDLEBURY, Establishing businesses in a shared space made financial sense, Matt explained, and was a way for him and Caroline to pursue their own culinary passions. “A neo-French bakery and a neo-Italian restaurant [are] obviously two different European traditions,” Matt said. “But because those two countries are so close, there’s kind of a harmony built into it. Their food gets along with each other.” The menus feature a rotating selection of seasonal dishes, along with classic fare. Caroline’s sweet bun varieties include the OG, a worthy ode to traditional cinnamon, and cranberry-orange-clove; savory buns are made with ingredients such as prosciutto, cheddar and broccoli. At the Arcadian, tagliatelle Bolognese shares the menu with squid ink pasta with rock shrimp, salami and herbs. Haymaker Bun and the Arcadian are currently open three days a week for takeout only; check social media for updates to the business model and hours. Meanwhile, to more accurately reflect what happens at 7 Bakery Lane, the street should also be called Pasta Place. SALLY POLL AK

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Black-capped chickadee on staghorn sumac

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Less than half an hour’s drive from Burlington, the Green Mountain Audubon Center can feel like “a world away,” said naturalist and communications manager Gwendolyn Causer. On its 255 acres, visitors can explore trails that pass northern hardwood forests, beaver ponds, a hemlock swamp and the Huntington River. “What’s really unique is how many different kinds of habitat our trails wind through,” noted Causer. More Vermonters have been experiencing the trails since the pandemic began; Causer said trail use was up over the summer. The snow season offers reason to return — and not just because folks can now snowshoe or cross-country ski. For one thing, “If you’re into birding or new to birding, it can be much less overwhelming to go” in the winter, Causer explained. Though there are fewer winged residents this time of year, birders can still spot woodpeckers, hawks, ruffed grouse and many other species. And from January 15 to February 15, the birding public is invited to participate in the Winter 2021 Climate Watch survey. Animal tracking, too, is a popular winter pastime. “When I go out there, I’m looking for tracks of fox and weasels and minks,” Causer said. “That’s what I really enjoy, getting a visual sense of all of the wildlife that is using the center and in such close proximity to us all the time — and we don’t know it until it Also try… snows.” Audubon Vermont, a • BIRDS OF VERMONT MUSEUM TRAILS, nonprofit conservation orgaHuntington, nization, oversees the nature • NORTH BRANCH NATURE CENTER, center — Montpelier, the oldest operating in the state. • VERMONT INSTITUTE OF NATURAL Visit its website to learn about SCIENCE, Quechee, pandemic protocol for the trails and to take advantage of online resources, such as Ask a Naturalist live programming and Audubon From Home mini nature lessons for kids. In Vermont, at least, you needn’t travel far from home to appreciate nature. C AROLYN F OX



Online cooking classes offered by King Arthur Baking in Norwich,

When the pandemic hit, the first things Americans panic-bought were toilet paper and hand sanitizer. Next in the grocery cart? There’s a good chance it was flour. Here in Vermont, Norwich’s King Arthur Baking saw sales of its signature red-and-white bags of flour skyrocket in the spring. But then what? “People get this flour into their kitchen, and then they’re like, ‘OK. I’m home. I have time. I want to bake — I’m not quite sure how to do it,’” explained Amber Eisler, director of the Also try… King Arthur Baking School. With state-of-the-art classrooms in Vermont’s Upper • ONLINE COOKING CLASSES FROM Valley and Washington’s Skagit CITY MARKET, ONION RIVER CO-OP, Valley, the school is known for Burlington, its in-person classes in every• RECIPES, ACTIVITIES AND VIDEOS thing from puff pastry and pies FROM BILLINGS FARM & MUSEUM, to sourdough and sticky buns. Woodstock, After months of perfecting a recipes-from-billings-farm virtual format, the school took • VIRTUAL FERMENTATION WORKSHOPS its classes online in mid-August. FROM PITCHFORK PICKLE, Burlington, When interviewed in early December, Eisler said the school had already served about 2,000 students with a rotation of 65 different baking classes. It’s offering at least a dozen classes every week for all levels of bakers, including kids. “People are coming from all across the country,” she said. “In every class, most time zones within the United States are represented, and we’ve seen a number of international students, as well. It’s been a great way for families and friends to connect … They can see each other and feel like they’re doing the same thing together, even if they’re thousands of miles apart.” Classes are live and limited to 24 participants, which means home bakers receive individualized attention from the instructors. “We like to have people focus their camera on their work surface, so we can see what they’re doing and provide some tips and suggestions,” noted Eisler. “That’s something that people are just hungry for right now — connection.” That, and cream puffs.

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