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Thank goodness for good grooming at ski centers such as Rikert!

Rikert's great grooming + sun = a happy skier.

We had a sunny stretch this week before some ugly spring-like weather was to hit this weekend (a bit of rain on Saturday and then snow coming Sunday night). I just had to get out into the sunshine.

But with a bit of rain that fell recently, a crust had developed in many places so I wanted to find a scenic cross-country ski center with very good grooming. Rikert Ski Touring Center in Ripton, Vt., filled the bill.

Located at Middlebury College's Bread Loaf campus, Rikert has a lovely network of nordic trails and some of the best grooming you'll find in Vermont. Middlebury's strong cross-country ski team practices on these trails along side area school children and local residents.

With the Skimeister still using a sit-ski due to his knee surgery, we explored the flatter trails on both sides of Route 125. We started on the Practice Loops in the fields across from Bread Loaf's trademark yellow buildings. The fields afforded some broad views of the Green Mountains and the clear blue sky.

If you look at some of the photos you can see shiny areas in the field. The field was glazed over like a donut after the recent rain episode. It was NOT a good idea to point your skis off of the groomed trail! On this exposed field the wind had dropped drifted snow here and there, just to keep things interesting.

We zipped back over to the main side of the trail network and skied The Field and then up Battell a ways to enjoy doing loops and figure eights on trails such as Bower, Picnic Loop and Partridge Crossing. Most of the trail network is wooded here and it is very pretty.

Here the fresh grooming and classic tracks were great. I was skate skiing and the corduroy was clean, crisp and fast! It was fun to get into the fast tracks for downhill sections of the trails.

We skied here last year and have some <link http: www.skimaven.com post great-grooming-some-surprises-at-rikert-cross-country-center external-link-new-window>additional scenic Rikert images to share at this blog post. I can't wait to come back to check out even more of the network, and maybe ski to the <link http: blogs.middlebury.edu trailrunner robert-frost-cabin external-link-new-window>Robert Frost cabin.

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