by Evan Johnson
In the days when I worked as a newspaper reporter in Vermont, every Friday between May and late September brought the same struggle. At around 3 p.m., without fail, my attention would begin to drift to the clock, counting down the minutes until I can spring for the exit and my weekend.
Of course, my responsibilities as a newspaper guy kept me from heading for the lakes and hills at the earliest possible convenience and while the best hours of daylight burned away outside, I found myself writing, then checking and double checking the headlines, photos and corresponding captions of everything on the front page of the upcoming edition that would be born to the world come Monday. But as soon as the last version of the front page hit my desk and I dutifully read it over and signed my initials at the top in red ink, the entire Patriots defensive line couldn’t keep me from the countless Green Mountain adventures close to home.
I have lots of friends and acquaintances who regularly set off to far flung locations for just a weekend of mountain biking, fishing or camping. While I love to explore new places as much as the next person, I’m as much of a fan of getting to know a portion of the place I call home on a new level of intimacy. I know where the springs and stealth camp spots are for the summertime campouts and the roads closed in winter where I can earn my turns on my skis. I like these close-to-home spots because I can experience them with different groups of friends and in different conditions. I like how I can get my skiing in on a winter morning and drop by my favorite diner for breakfast and still have the rest of the day to shovel snow, restack the firewood or curl up with a book. There’s no need to dedicate my entire day to one thing here in Vermont.
A couple years ago, my best friend invited me to hike with him on the Long Trail, a hiking trail in Vermont that was constructed in the early 1900s and runs the entire length of the state and is now known as the oldest long-distance trail in the United States. When he was delayed in arriving at our meeting place, we were still able to get to the trail on time. We dropped a car at one trailhead, then headed south to the other and were still able to find a place to park, hike the section of trail we wanted, and saw some epic sunset and breakfast sunrise that we still reminisce about.
Some of my other favorites don’t even require an entire weekend. Pine Hill Park in nearby Rutland,VT has dozens of miles of single and double track through serene forests and past old quarrying ponds.
Of course, Monday at 8:30 a.m. finds me the same way it always does and I’d be back where I started, counting down the days and hours until I could head out again.