I had hoped that by this time in December, I would be sharing new ski touring adventures. While there is some cross country skiing to be enjoyed, the cover is a little too thin to get out of well-groomed fields and into the more uneven terrain of the woods. That said, I have no objection to trail running in the snow, at least shallow snow, and on this gorgeous sunny day, it seemed a great day for a run on paved road, dirt road, and trail.
For this run, I am revisiting a segment of a run I first described two summers ago entitled “Secret Meadow” where I described an infrequently visited meadow up on the hillside above Upper Plains Road on the Middlebury/Salisbury border. Today’s run started on the road, however, at the parking lot by the playground on Schoolhouse Hill Road in East Middlebury. Heading east up the Middlebury Gap Rd. past the Waybury Inn brought me to what ended up as the hardest part of the run – the short steep road ascent of Sand Hill. Shortly after topping out this challenge, I took the right turn on Upper Plains Rd., which was not surprisingly snow-covered. Looking through the normally thick woods enveloping the road, I spied a variety of trails which remained largely hidden in the undergrowth during the summer, and made a mental note of their location for future exploration. After a little over a mile on Upper Plains Rd., there is an obvious trail heading to the left on the other side of a forest service gate. A few yards up the trail, the main trail bore left, with a steeper, more narrow trail to the right. Curiously, there was a sign directing ATV’s to this trail, but guess which way the tire tracks went? Guess which way I went?
A short steep ascent brought me to the Secret Meadow itself, which looks quite different in the wintry landscape than it does during summer runs! While it was all blue sky overhead, haze and clouds to the west obscured the often spectacular Adirondack views from this hillside. Turning around, and gazing uphill to the east, I was impressed by rugged appearance the low rounded hills behind me took on when snow covered and devoid of foliage.
Returning down the gentler route chosen (apparently inappropriately) by the previous ATV’er, and retracing my steps in descent brought me back to the start, for a slightly less than 5 mile run with a very sane 550 ft of climb and and descent. Have a great Christmas, and hope for more snow!
Jeff Byers is a professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Middlebury College. He also writes the Middlebury Trailrunner blog. We'll be periodically highlighting posts from his blog, but for more recommendations for trailrunning and cross country skiing in the county, head to his Web site.
This entry was originally posted on Dec. 20, 2010.