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Brookfield floating bridge in winter Photo: Courtesy of John Hughes, photographer.

Post-event note: It is 1 pm as I am writing this and would like to alert readers that the event has ended early, as the ice was not safe for competitions today…
Saturday January 31 – 10:30 am to 2 pm – It’s ice harvesting in Brookfield, Vermont. It is the 30th year that this traditional event takes place and it is one of the last ice harvest festivals in New England. It is also one of the Top Ten Winter 2008/09 Events, according to the Vermont Chamber of Commerce. There will be demonstrations and competitions, ice cutting, ice sculpting, dog sledding, food and more. We are trying to get more information on the exact timing of the various events. Stay Posted! And for more details, you can read the 2001 The Herald article which describes nicely how the ice is prepared for harvesting for several weeks and how it is carried to the ice house.
We had lots of fresh snow in the past couple of days, so the scenery should be spectacular, but dress warm because it is going to be on the chilly side (14F; 0F with the wind chill factor). We’ll definitely be there with our camera!
Note: If you are interested in the history of ice harvesting, don’t miss the ice house at the Justin Morrill Homestead, a Vermont historic site in Strafford, and its exhibit on ice harvesting, including some interesting old photographs. The site is not open in the winter though.

Related article: Brookfield: its Unique Floating Bridge
More information on Brookfield Ice Harvest Festival
at:
802-276-3959

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Dog sledding in Vermont
Photo: Courtesy of Eden Dogsledding.

Dog sledding is a great way to be close to nature. Several companies, who all seem to be great dog lovers, are offering dog sled tours this season. We have not tried any of them ourselves, but we hope to do it soon.

Peace Pups Dogsledding – Lake Elmore, Northern Vermont – They are offering day tours at Lake Elmore with their teams of Siberian Huskies during week-ends (Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, at 10 am, noon and 2 pm) and night tours at Stowe Mountain Resort during the week (Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, at 5 pm, 6 pm and 7 pm). They are advising to make reservations in advance, because they have a small kennel.
More information at: Peace Pups Dogsledding
Where are they located? Lake Elmore, VT
Watch a video on Peace Pups Dogsledding, produced by Seven Days Magazine.

October Siberians Sled Dog Adventures – Hinesburg, Central Vermont – They are offering 2-hour tours during the day on week-ends (Saturdays and Sundays) and night tours (5 pm and 7:30 pm) on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Their primary location is Little River State Park in Waterbury, VT, a convenient location for people staying at Stowe, Bolton or Sugarbush ski resorts. They also participate to Hinesburg Winter Carnival and Shelburne Farms Winter Carnival.
More information at: October Siberians Sled Dog Adventures
Where are they located? Little River State Park, VT

 – Eden Dogsledding and Dogsledding-On-Wheels! – Eden Mills, Northeast Kingdom – Located an easy, scenic drive from Stowe, Jay Peak and Smugglers’ Notch ski resorts, they offer dog sled tours with their gorgeous Alaskan Huskies. In the winter, you’ll enjoy their woodstove, hot chocolate and cookies too! They even have lodging on site.
More information at: Eden Dogsledding
Where are they located? Eden Mills, VT

Husky Works Mushing Company – West Wardsboro – Located at the intersection of the Stratton-Arlington Road and Route 100, near Stratton Mountain and Mount Snow, in the Green Mountains of Southern Vermont, they offer dog sled tours with their Siberian Huskies.
More information at: Husky Works Mushing Company
Where are they located? West Wardsboro

Note that Atii Sled Dogs, in Moretown, Central Vermont are not offering dog sled tours this season (2008-2009). More information at: Atii Sled Dogs

They are a few more places offering dog sledding in Vermont, and which don’t seem to have websites. At this time, we have not contacted them for more information but they can be reached at the following phone numbers:
Hardscrabble Mountain Sled Dog Tours – Sheffield, Northeast Kingdom – 802-626-9895
Vermont Dog Sledding – Shoreham – 802-897-2311
For general information of dog sled tours and dog sledding, you can also visit the dog sledding page at:
Vermont Outdoor Guide Association

And last but not least, if you want to see 99 teams for the US and Canada, racing in a great sled dog dash, don’t miss the 3rd annual event at Burke Mountain on February 28 to March 1, 2009.
More information at: Burke Mountain Sled Dog Dash

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Cross-country skiing and horse-led sleigh at Mountain Top InnPhoto: Courtesy of Mountain Top Inn.
The 14th annual Winter Trails (Saturday January 10) is the occasion to snowshoe and cross-country ski for free in some Vermont ski resorts! It is actually a North-American event (100 locations in the US and Canada), to encourage people to try the sports, but in some of the resorts, everyone gets the opportunity to ski or snowshoe for free.
Here is the list of participating ski resorts and their activities:

Blueberry Hill Inn & Cross Country Ski Center, Goshen – January 10 – 10 am to 4 pm – Cross-country skiing is from 11 am to 1 pm and from 2 pm to 4 pm. First-time skiers can rent the equipment, take a group lesson and try the trails – all for free. Snowshoeing is from 10 am to noon and from 1 pm to 3 pm. People new to the sport can rent the equipment, have an introduction and hike in the woods for free.
More information at: Blueberry hill Inn Cross Country Ski Center

Bolton Valley Nordic Center, Bolton Valley – January 11 – 10 am to 2 pm – First-time skiers get free rental and free ski pass.
Careful: it’s Sunday January 11 at Bolton, not January 10!
More information at: Bolton Valley Events

Catamount Outdoor Family Center, Williston – January 10 – 10 am to 3 pm with a moon light snowshoe tour ($10, only adults) at 8 pm followed by hot chocolate and cookies! Free trail passes and sledding, free ski and snowshoe rentals for everyone all day… and raffle for Darn Tough socks.
More information at: Catamount Outdoor
Full schedule at: Catamount Outdoor Winter Trails schedule

Craftsbury Outdoor Center, Craftsbury – January 10 – 9 am to 4 pm – Rentals and trail passes are free for everyone all day, both for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. There is an introductory cross-country group lesson at 1:30 pm.
More information on Craftsbury Outdoor Center at: Craftsbury Outdoor Center

Highland Lodge Nordic Center, Greensboro – January 10 – 1 pm to closing – Free snowshoeing and skiing trail passes and rentals for first-timers. There is also a Full Moon Snowshoe Walk at 9 pm free, with free hot chocolate after the walk. Just call ahead to sign up. (802) 533-2647.
More information at: Highland Lodge Nordic Center Events

Mountain Top Inn & Resort Nordic Ski & Snowshoe Center, Chittenden, Rutland County – January 10 – 10 am to 2 pm – Children and adults new to the sports of cross-country skiing and snowshoeing receive a complimentary trail pass and free rentals for the day. And if you’ve read our article on “the best ski resorts are in Vermont”, you know that Mountain Top Inn has been voted one of the Top 10 ski resorts for romantic cross-country skiers in North-America by MSNBC in 2006!
More information at: Mountain Top Inn Events

Ole’s Cross Country Ski Center, Warren – January 10 – 1 pm to closing – Beginners who mention the Winter Trails event get a 1-hour trail pass, ski rental and ½ hour “try-it” lesson (at 2 pm) – all for free.
More information at: Ole’s Cross Country Ski Center Events

Sleepy Hollow Inn, Ski & Bike Center, Huntington – January 10 – 9 am to 4 pm – People new to the sports of cross-country skiing and snowshoeing receive a free trail pass and free rental.
More on the Ski Center: Sleepy Hollow Inn

Smugglers’ Notch Resort Nordic Ski and Snowshoe Adventure Center, Smugglers’ Notch – January 10 – Noon to 4 pm – Free rentals and short instructional sessions for first-time snowshoers and cross country skiers. Smugglers’ Adventure Center has 34 kilometers of cross-country trails and 24 kilometers of dedicated snowshoe trails!
More information at: Smugglers’ Notch winter events

Woodstock Inn & Resort, Woodstock – January 10 – 1 pm to 3 pm – Free passes, free rentals and a 15-minute instructional session for first-time snowshoers and cross country skiers. More information at: Woodstock Inn & Resort Nordic Center, 802-457-6674

We hope you all get out and try! Snow should be great, with the new snow we are getting today.

Post-scriptum: Ski Vermont is also organizing an event for first-time skiers and riders this week (January 4-11). Free lessons, rentals and limited-beginner lift tickers are offered in over a dozen Vermont ski resorts. More information and to sign up: Ski Vermont learn to ski