I have always taken a rather cynical view on the holiday season. From Thanksgiving to New Years Day my otherwise sunny disposition clouds over with grumpiness. It's something in the air this time of year - a combination of stress, rabid consumerism, and the lack of Vitamin D that just makes me want to hide. This year I spent Christmas alone and it turns out that is not an improvement. So, I headed for the hills. Hayden Hill, to be exact; where The Fellowship of the Wheel has, for a long time now, maintained some of my favorite trails in the area.
The mercury was hanging low, around 5 degrees but the sun was out and I needed to be motivated after a Christmas Eve of old fashioneds and sad country sing-alongs courtesy of our own Honky-Tonk hero, Mr. Brett Hughes (he is the best in the business around here). So, I bundled up and headed for Hinesburg with my Surly Pugsley. We got some wicked ice up here over the weekend so I was worried about what I'd find out in the woods. To my surprise conditions could not have been much better. The ice provided a hard packed base and a few inches of fresh snow on top of that made for fast and grippy trails
From the Hayden Hill W. parking lot I climbed the Maiden which is a beautiful, wandering ascent. Steady enough to test your strength but never steep enough to split your side. This season volunteers with the Fellowship built several new bridges that really aid in the overall rideabilty of this trail.
One of my favorite aspects of the Fat Bike is that it just begs to have as many different surfaces and types of terrain thrown in front of it. Where the snow cover was weak the fat tires ate up the slippery roots and rocks or floated me over little stream crossings.
There were plenty of steep climbs to come on the Back Door trail. But, again, to my surprise the snow had mellowed out the more difficult sections of that otherwise very technical trail. Before I knew it I was catching glimpses of the rolling hills of Chittenden County, the glimmer of the lake, and the high peaks of the Adirondacks through the naked trees. This picture culminates once you get to the very top and can look east to the Green Mountains with Camels Hump in close proximity and west to the lake. It is a beautiful ridgeline trail
Snow frosted woods are beautiful. Everything is silent and still, yet the hustle and bustle of the ecosystem is preserved in scattered prints of various sizes and shapes. With my heart pumping from the long climb and the sun illuminating the crystalized trees I was warm, peaceful, and profoundly happy. Those winter blues had melted off.