Avatar SusanDMay 17, 2010

Although it may be blasphemous for me to say this since I am a snow-loving skier, spring is my favorite season.  The world feels like it is waking up.  Critters start to move around more, and everything in nature seems happy to be alive.  I start to see ducks paddling about in half-flooded yards, and woodchucks basking in the sunshine.  Even the inevitable rainstorms and resulting mud are welcome signs for me.  Following a downpour, I can almost watch the plants grow.  The earliest flowers, such as Coltsfoot, emerge alongside melting snow patches, and the budding trees create a verdant carpet inching up the mountainsides day by day.  As spring matures into summer, the Vermont landscape could be described a sponge painting with dabs of every possible shade of green, from yellowy birch to dark pine.

I must admit that I missed a couple of weeks of spring in the northeast to witness the wonders of the west.  I flew out to Colorado to visit fellow biathletes Lanny and Tracy Barnes in their hometown of Durango.  Another biathlete, Andrea Mayo, who trains with the Maine Winter Sports Center, came along too.  The Barnes shared their love of all things outdoors with us, including  fishing, turkey hunting, hiking, hot springs, and mountain biking.  One day we journeyed over to Mesa Verde National Park and toured the ancient cliff dwellings in a snowstorm.  We spend a week camping high on a mountain pass so we could access the snowpack for crust-skiing before the sun softened it midmorning.  When we weren’t busy skiing or biking, we went treasure hunting.  We bushwhacked in search of deer and elk antler sheds, and we walked under the lift lines at Purgatory Mountain Resort looking for goggles, poles, cameras, and iPods dropped by alpine skiers during the winter.  Sometime in the next few years, the Barnes and I dream of unicycling in the famous Iron Horse bike race, which climbs over the 2 passes between Durango and Silverton, CO.   One afternoon, I started my training for this by unicycling up Coal Bank Pass.

Now I’m back in the northeast, ready for another summer of hard training.  I am very excited to be joining the Green Racing Project, and look forward to future adventures in Craftsbury.  Already I’ve been braving the black flies with Lauren while working on the new compost bins and the garden plot.  I’ve been listening to Matt, Ollie and Tim scheming and dreaming about new single-track mountain bike trails.  Pepa has introduced me to the “step test” on the Ski Erg, which can be used to measure VO2 max, as well as other things.  Chelsea’s been kind enough to introduce me to vernal pool that she recently blogged about and all the cool critters she found in it.  There is a lot going on around here and the summer is going to be great!

Our crazy crew in Durango (from L to R, me, Lanny Barnes, Tracy Barnes, and Andrea Mayo, photo courtesy of Lanny)

My first ever broken ski. We spent hours finding jumps in the crusty snow. I guess I shouldn’t have been too surprised when I busted a ski (check out my right ski, behind the foot). Luckily, it was an old beater pair that I’d had for 10 years.

Mesa Verde's Park Ranger Jo shows us Cliff Palace and describes the Ancestral Pueblo Peoples that lived there. They ate wild game, as well as corns beans, and squash farmed on the plateau above, and they found spring water under the cliffs. Very few of the inhabitants survived past age 30- I guess I'd probably be past my prime.

Learning about turkey hunting and trying out the 12-gauge. (Photo: Lanny Barnes)

Who are those turkeys anyway???



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