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.
Solving problems in a group can be especially gratifying as you work to overcome an obstacle that looks impossible. A team-building exercise like a ropes course can not only get a group outside for an afternoon, it can help them understand more about those they live and work with as they solve problems to reach a goal. There are many types of challenges on a ropes course. "Low Elements" happen close to the ground and consist of challenges like getting your entire group from one point to another. During the course of the exercise, the group must work together using their individual strengths and personality traits to get through the obstacles. In the "High Elements," people face individual challenges up to 40 feet off the ground. These can involve such things as walking rope bridges, walking a tightrope and jumping from the top of a telephone pole to grab a trapeze bar. Though the participants are harnessed and on belay lines for safety purposes, it is still a challenge to for them to force themselves to make it through and surpass the goals put out in front of them on this course. Host Marianne Eaton joins Olympian Doug Lewis of Eliteam and members of the VPT staff for a challenging and insightful day on the ropes in Waitsfield.