There are over 300,000 active skydivers in the United States. Stepping into the doorway of a plane at 13,500 feet and leaping for an adrenaline-filled free fall is a feeling like no other. For those interested in trying this sport, a tandem ride where you are strapped together with a certified instructor is an easy way to see what skydiving is all about. And just about anyone can drive in off the street and try it. We visited Vermont Skydiving Adventures in Addison and went up in the plane to watch first-timers take exhilarating tandem rides.
Caving is a tricky business and takes a lot of preparation. In addition to arming yourself with coveralls, helmets, lights, ropes and supply of the good batteries, you have to be ready to do a fair amount of scrambling, stooping, crawling and squeezing through tight places. But in addition to its challenges, caving has its rewards when you uncover thousands of years of geologic history. Unfortunately, many of these subterranean museums have been vandalized. That's why veterans of the underground are tight-lipped about their location. Host Marianne Eaton joins members of the Vermont Cavers Association in Rutland County for a trip underground to explore one of Vermont's deep treasures.
Whitewater kayaking can be an exhilarating, fast-paced and fun run down the river. It's also a potentially dangerous sport that requires proper training and the right equipment. One of the biggest whitewater events in Vermont happens on the last weekends of both April and September when the Ball Mountain Dam in Jamaica holds a controlled water release, turning the West River into a class III run. Thousands of whitewater enthusiasts come from all over New England to run the rapids. Host Marianne Eaton takes an introductory whitewater kayak lesson and runs her first class II whitewater.
From the thrill of liftoff to the traditional champagne toast upon landing, hot air ballooning has lost none of its magic for both first timers and seasoned pilots. Vermont is host to the Stoweflake Hot Air Balloon Festival in July. Here over 20 pilots from around the country come together for a weekend of sunrise and sunset launches, filling the skies over Stowe with a dazzling array of colors. Host Marianne Eaton steps into the gondola of aeronaut Chuck Baraw at the festival to rise above it all.
Sculling is a rowing sport that's not only a great workout, it's one of the fastest trips you can make on the water under your own power. Vermont is home to the Craftsbury Sculling Center in Craftsbury Common. It is a world-class sculling school attracting Olympians and people who just like to row. Host Marianne Eaton joins a class at Craftsbury to learn the ins and outs of sculling and what the attraction is to this sport of "leverage."
Falconry has been called the "sport of kings" for centuries and still attracts a worldwide audience. While not as traditionally popular here as in Europe, falconry does have a devoted following in the United States. At the British School of Falconry at the Equinox, a resort in Manchester Village, Vt., visitors can take an introductory falconry lesson that puts them face-to-face with a Harris Hawk. Host Marianne Eaton visits the school for a lesson and accompanies falconers on a hunt for game birds in Tinmouth.
Outdoor recreation can be difficult for people with disabilities. Specialized recreational equipment for the physically challenged is often expensive, making getting outside a near impossibility for some. The Eastern Adaptive Sportsman's Association organizes outdoor sporting trips for people who normally wouldn't be able to participate due to a psychical disability. We spend a day with members of the association as they take a group fishing on Lake Champlain.
A 'Quest' is a 150-year-old English tradition that has been transplanted to Vermont by an organization called Vital Communities. Participants follow clues that are found in a book titled Valley Quest, which takes them on 89 different treasure hunts across Vermont and New Hampshire. Each quest in the book contains riddle-like clues and maps for the hunt. The quests are designed to teach adults and children about the natural and cultural history of the communities they live in. At the end of each quest the participants find a treasure chest containing a journal for the questors to sign and leave messages in, a stamp with which to stamp their quest books, and more information about the community.
- Vital Communities
104 Railroad Row
White River Junction, VT 05001
Hand-eye coordination is the name of the game when it comes to skeet shooting. It's a sport of angles where women can compete on an equal plain with men. In skeet shooting, participants attempt to hit clay pigeons that are fired from two different locations on the course. Using shotguns, they make their way through eight different stations placed in a semicircle in front of the target launchers. The shooting stations create a variety of different trajectories and it can be challenging for even seasoned shooters to hit the moving targets. Host Marianne Eaton visits the Sportsman's Club of Franklin County to learn the highs and lows of skeet shooting.
Horseback riding is a sport of communication. The second a person mounts a horse, the animal instantly knows whether the rider is experienced by their subtle movements. This relationship is at the center of this sport. The bonding that goes on between human and animal is what makes riding pleasurable for both rider and horse. And there's no place like Vermont to enjoy a day on the trail. South Woodstock, Vermont sits in the heart of one of the finest horse trail systems for both competitive and pleasure riding in the country. The trails, which are maintained by the Green Mountain Horse Association, wind through fourteen communities in Windsor County creating the perfect environment to enjoy Vermont's outdoors by horseback. Host Marianne Eaton visits Kedron Valley Stables in South Woodstock for a horseback riding lesson and then joins members of the GMHA for their annual fall foliage ride.