One of the beautiful things about Vermont is the change of seasons. It keeps life interesting with a constant change of scenery ranging from the gray cloudy weather of November to the incredibly bright, crisp blue and white of a clear winter day. We have warm summer days with high humidity, subzero winter days with zero humidity and everything in between. These temperature ranges tend to keep out a lot of the nuisance insects that our neighbors to the south have; sightings of ticks and cases of Lyme Disease are rare, and Vermont has virtually no poisonous snakes or spiders. Some of this has changed in recent years due to the increase in temperatures in the area. Tick sightings have becoming more frequent in southern Vermont and an occasional tick is even sighted in the northern regions.
Changes in outdoor activities accompany all of these seasonal changes. In Vermont, you can participate in a wide range of activities not available in many parts of this country. You'll be amazed at what you can find to do in the great outdoors of Vermont.
During the summer months, we have road and backroad cycling with the advantage of many low traffic roads to ride on. We have a multitude of old dirt roads, logging roads and single track mountain bike trails, and even lift-serviced downhill biking at local ski areas. Due to our numerous lakes and rivers, there are many opportunities for canoeing, kayaking, wind surfing and kite boarding. There are many brooks and streams with great swimming holes throughout the state. Don't forget hiking! The Long Trail runs the length of the state, and there are many day hikes throughout. Many of these day hikes lead to the tops of mountains with beautiful vistas. Vermont is also a great place to camp with a wonderful state park system offering family camping at many locations throughout the state.
Fall is an amazing season to just be outdoors and watch the daily changes as the maples begin to turn color and prepare for winter. It is often rainy in November, but we also have lovely low humidity and crisp, clear days that make for some of the best hiking of the year. Cooler weather makes it a nice time to get out for those end-of-the-season bike rides.
Fall is the time of year we mushers start to be able to run our dogs, since the temperatures are lower, and there is less chance of the dogs overheating. If you only have one or two dogs, you might want to try running your dogs with a dog scooter. This is a growing sport and a fun way to get you pups out for a run. Deer and moose hunting seasons take place in the fall, so if you are recreating outdoors, you should be aware of what hunting season it might be and either stay out of the woods or make sure you are highly visible, preferably wearing hunter safety orange.
Winter comes next and is one of my favorite seasons. Being a musher, it's the season I and the dogs live for. At Peacepups Dog Sledding here in Lake Elmore, it's when we begin to offer dog sled rides and skijor lessons. There are several kennels in Vermont offering similar services. If youre here visiting, I highly recommend checking one of these out. There is nothing like being pulled along through the woods by a team of sled dogs. It's an experience you won't soon forget.
Another dog-powered winter activity is skijoring. This is being pulled by one or more dogs while on cross-country skis. Skijoring is growing in popularity and is a great way to get out and exercise both yourself and your dog. There are also many other ways to get outside and play, with or without dogs. Of course, Vermont is known for its downhill skiing, and there are many cross-country ski areas, as well. The Catamount Trail System runs the length of the state and makes for a good, long ski trip, or you can hit short sections of it for a day ski. There is awesome sledding, and performance sleds are made right here in Vermont. Take one of these sleds and hike up a mountain for a fun backcountry sled trip. Snowshoeing has become very popular, and you'll often see folks snowshoeing on the hiking trails around the state.
Spring completes the cycle with the snow melting away and trees and plants springing to life. Again, it's just incredible to watch everything go from a frozen state to being lush and green all over again. Spring can be one of the more challenging seasons to play outside. In the midst of spring, we have mud season, and you can't really mountain bike or hike due to the mud. We stay off all trails until things have dried out to help reduce the erosion and trail damage. It's too cold to swim, and many of the smaller ponds and lakes will still have a layer of ice on them, so kayaking and canoeing isn't possible, either. Many people start road biking as soon as the roads are clear to start getting in shape for the coming season. Running works, and there's always the gym.
Then we start all over again, which keeps life interesting and keeps one from being burned out from doing and seeing the same thing year-round.
Story submitted by: Ken Haggett
Date submitted: September 16, 2006