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.
To many it may appear impossible to comprehend a climb up a sheer wall of ice in the winter. But thanks to advances in technology, this sport is now more accessible than ever. For many ice climbers, mastering the mental and physical challenges associated with this sport is what makes it attractive. Ice climbing requires a person to be completely in synch with the environment and to understand how the changing weather conditions affect the terrain being climbed. For those that attack the physical and mental challenges of this sport, there is a special sense of accomplishment and feeling of being one with nature. Host Marianne Eaton joins Austin Paulson of Peak Expeditions for a day on the ice in Smuggler's Notch.
Twenty years ago Dave Sellers was looking for a way to enjoy a downhill experience without waiting on lift lines or sticking to groomed trails. He came up with the rocket sled — six pounds of plastic and foam rubber that a rider kneels in and floats down the powder on. A rocket sled is light enough to carry easily as you hike up a mountain. And because your legs are strapped into it, when you shift your weight the sled will turn quickly. Its design leaves a thick "monorail" of snow underneath that helps hold an edge, but will collapse when you want to make a turn. The sled is designed for powder and its maneuverability lets the rider tackle trees as well as moves such as Eskimo rolls and helicopters. Host Marianne Eaton joins members of the Mad River Rocket Company for a hike up Granville Gulf and a run on the powder.
- Clearwater Sports: Snowshoe & Backcountry
Ski Tours (see their "Rocket-Shoeing Adventure")
A flight in a glider is unlike any other airplane experience. No engine. No noise. Just the sound of the wind and your own thoughts. Gliders fly on rising pockets of warm air called "thermals." These are the same thermals hawks use to soar to great heights. Gliders can climb thousands of feet and, under the right conditions, travel great distances. Vermont provides a number of ideal locations for soaring. One of them is Vermont's Mad River Valley, home to the Sugarbush Soaring Association. Located at the Warren Sugarbush Airport, the Association is made up of about 150 members who come from all over New England to fly glider planes. The Association gives glider rides to those interested in possibly learning the sport. It also sponsors a summer youth camp for two weeks, giving kids between the ages of 13 and 17 a chance to learn to soar. The learning curve for young people is fairly steep. Adults can expect to spend up to forty or more hours to learn to soar, depending on their abilities. But the first step is taking a glider ride. Host Marianne Eaton visits the Warren Sugarbush Airport and joins Ron Webster, president of the Sugarbush Soaring Association, for a glider ride high above Vermont's Mad River Valley.
Trying any outdoor sport can be intimidating. But for women it can be even tougher because of a lack of instruction in traditional outdoor sports. But there are a growing number of resources available for women who want to learn how to tie a fly, shoot a bow or just survive in the wild. One of these resources is Doe Camp — an annual summer weekend of outdoor sports instruction put on by Vermont Outdoor Woman. Here women can learn about sports that are usually perceived to be male-oriented, such as hunting, fishing and shooting, in a relaxed, non-threatening environment. Host Marianne Eaton attends Doe Camp 2003 to learn a little about shooting, survival, fly-fishing and other outdoor sports.
For around 200 miles, the Connecticut River forms the boundary between Vermont and New Hampshire, offering a number of great stretches to paddle and enjoy the scenery. It is a river filled with many personalities — peppered with whitewater in some sections and gentle pools and eddies in others. In a southern part of the river near Windsor, Vermont, lies a 12-mile stretch that makes a perfect day paddle adventure. Host Marianne Eaton joins Eric Hanson from Northstar Canoe Rentals in Cornish, New Hampshire, to paddle this stretch of the Connecticut and spend the night at one of the primitive campsites along the river.
Archery is one of the fastest growing field sports in the country. Thanks to developments in equipment, it is easier than ever to become a proficient archer. The physical part of archery is the form and developing a routine. But the most important part is the discipline and the mental aspect of this sport. It's not the biggest and strongest person who is a successful archer. It's someone whose strength lies in his or her focus and discipline. It is a sport of consistency. Host Marianne Eaton joins Ron Pelkey of Pelkey's Archery in St. Albans for an archery lesson, and then visits the Chittenden County Fish and Game Club in Jonesville for a 3-D archery tournament benefiting the Hunt of a Lifetime program. The program brings hunting and fishing experiences to children with life-threatening illnesses.
Whitewater rafting is one of the biggest thrill rides nature has to offer. The Kennebec River in Maine is one of the most popular rivers in New England to raft. It ranges from a gentle flow to a pulse-pounding class-four whitewater. A number of companies along the Kennebec offer daylong whitewater adventures. In addition to outfitting you, they give you paddling instruction, take you to the put-in spot, guide you down the river, prepare you a streamside lunch and pick you up at the end of the day. A daily dam release ensures that there are always great whitewater conditions on the Kennebec, meaning that you can go on rafting adventures all summer and into September. Host Marianne Eaton travels to The Forks, Maine, home of Northern Outdoors Adventures to take on a wet and wild twelve-mile stretch of the Kennebec River.
As the end of September rolls around, the Northeast Kingdom is usually the first place in Vermont to see the beginning of the fall foliage show of color. While many people view this display by car or bike, a canoe trip gives you an amazing perspective you can't get from the pavement. Paddling slows you down, forcing you to appreciate the moment and enjoy your surroundings. You feel the power of the blade on the water and after a while, you don't even have to think too much about it as you serenely make your way downriver. There are a number of companies in Vermont that feature paddling adventures. They range from barebones day trips to multi-day, fully guided excursions with lunch prepared for you right on the river and nights at spent at Vermont country inns. Host Marianne Eaton puts in on the White and the Connecticut rivers with Battenkill Canoe on their Vermont River Sampler tour.
Exploring Vermont's back roads on a bike trip is a terrific way to discover places you didn't know existed. A bike trip slows the pace of travel down. You see things that most people don't see. You get a feel for the terrain you're traveling on. You get a lot of exercise during the day, and you sleep really well at night. A bike tour also offers you the opportunity to meet new people who share your interest in cycling. Friendships can take hold as you peddle through the countryside. You find yourself sharing moments together that people in cars never have. Taking a bike tour with an established tour company can not only take a lot of the guess work out of planning your route, it can offer invaluable things such as roadside repairs, or even a ride if you get little tired. Host Marianne Eaton joins Vermont Bicycle Tours on their Champlain Valley Tour for a little inn-to-inn biking through the Champlain Valley.