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Spring-like cross-country skiing at Rikert Nordic Center today

Spring skiing on the trails at Rikert.

Rikert has installed snowmaking.

I skied to Robert Frost's cabin.

Returning to the touring center at Bread Loaf.

Spring was in the air and in the snow today as we visited Rikert Nordic Center in Ripton, Vermont. It was <link http: www.skimaven.com post deal-alert-january-learn-to-ski-and-snowboard-deals-free-xc-skiing external-link-new-window>Winter Trails Day and Rikert (pronounced rye-curt) was offering free skiing, rentals and a group lesson. Can't beat that deal!

The Skimeister was helping with the <link http: www.disabledathletics.org external-link-new-window ndaa>Northeast Disabled Athletic Association's free sit-ski clinic. I took a tour that would bring me in a clockwise triangle of sorts through the Nordic network, which is based at Middlebury's Bread Loaf Campus.

It was in the 40s today and the spring-like conditions included areas of wet or dirty snow, some iced areas that had previously melted, and some small stream crossings. Luckily we had received quite a bit of snow over the last couple of weeks so the coverage was still decent. The silver lining, of course, was that people were skiing in light layers of clothing -- even t-shirts! It was darn comfortable.

From the mustard-colored touring center, I started up First Loop, which was in very tough shape, but luckily the conditions got better as soon as I got off that lower trail. I did a steady climb up Sheehan and Craig's Hill. I liked Craig's Hill as it took me farther out into the woods. Many of the trails had classic tracks and I enjoyed it when I had enough momentum to stride in the tracks. I could get a good rhythm going.

My destination was Robert Frost's cabin, where he spent the summer months for decades of his life. Frost taught at Bread Loaf's famous writers' school.

I jumped on the Frost trail and then took an ungroomed, winding side trail to get to the Frost Fields. North of a white farmhouse, tucked against the treeline, was the modest cabin. You cannot enter the cabin, so I just took a water break and took in the view of the fields, apple trees, and the cloud-shrouded mountains.

I headed back to the Frost trail and climbed up to the east until it hit Lower (or Inner) Frost. This short trail was full of small streams crossing the trail. Our precious snow was melting! 

I reconnected with Frost and enjoyed a descent back toward the touring center, which included the Sugarhouse trail. This trail had been groomed and the soft, smooth snow allowed me to make fun turns to finish the tour. 

It was a nice day to be out in the woods!

To check out our reports on other visits to Rikert, visit this link <link http: www.skimaven.com category rikert _top external-link-new-window external link in new>www.skimaven.com/category/rikert/.

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