Valley Parents: Valley Quest; Cross Country Ski or Snowshoe to the Top of Mount Tom in Woodstock
The contents of George and Nancy Smith’s “quest kit” include a compass, a personalized rubber stamp, an ink pad, a solid surface on which to stamp things, pens, pencils and paper towels. Look inside any quest treasure box, and you will see an imprint of the Smiths’ stamp, which bears their last name and shows two hikers walking in profile. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck)
This winter Valley Quest asks you to strap on cross country skis and climb to the top of Mount Tom in the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park. At the end of your excursion, you will be rewarded with a view of the town of Woodstock down below.
There is no admission fee for entrance to the national park, but questers should be aware that trails on Mt. Tom will not be groomed for the 2012-2013 season. These trails are left in their natural winter state for backcountry skiing and snowshoeing
If you don’t own skis or snowshoes, equipment can be rented from the Woodstock Inn Nordic Center on Route 106.
Equipment Needed: Cross country skis or snowshoes
Estimated Time: 1-1.5 hours
Open: Winter Solstice through Vernal Equinox
How To Get There: From the Woodstock Inn Nordic Center located on Route 106 South in Woodstock, exit right, go .6 miles and turn right again on Route 4, then quickly left at Route 12 just past the village green. Follow Route 12 for 3.3 miles; turn left on Prosper Road, following the sign to West Woodstock. Follow the road for .7 miles. The parking lot is located in a stand of pine trees on the left.
Wherefore Montague, why Capulet?
Star-crossed lovers we shan’t forget.
As you climb Mount Tom,
Gliding up and gliding on,
Were I one to hedge a bet,
That’s the best clue you will get.
Whose woods are these? Well, now they’re ours.
These sacred groves long lent their powers
To former folks who made their mark,
And left to us a nation’s park.
Their years of caring are evident here.
On this day your route is clear.
From the start by Welcome’s board,
Climb through Scotch pine orange toward
Civil War era’s McKenzie Place.
Locust and foundations leave but a trace
Of former folks who send you left
Up a half-mile rise, then best be deft.
Right, down through spruce, control your speed,
A right hand corner reveals a need.
And should you lack a skill or two,
You might do better to snowshoe.
Sit a while for a sunny break
On Pogue Hole’s shore, once a bog, now a lake.
Veer left or farther right ‘round run.
Getting there is half the fun.
Around the ice go these two courses.
Head east from dam to a trough for horses.
Corner south between two fields,
At uphill bend it’s you who yield.
Snake on, again through forest floor,
Quick choice of trails, take either or,
Right to November’s yellow wood
Or left through evergreens, just as good.
They merge again after a spell.
Try each one. They both ski well.
You’re closing in — the last downhill.
Atop stone causeway avoid a spill,
Then scratchy pitch ‘neath hemlock bough,
The return for some, walk or snowplow,
Opens up with Woodstock far below.
Now for your quest — where should you go?
Not far from the trail that circles ‘round,
What you’re seeking can be found.
Easy to see but for snowy drift,
Back to verse one your thoughts should shift.
On holidays your goal’s aglow,
Star-crossed like Juliet and her Romeo.
This Quest was created by John Wiggin, former director of the Woodstock Inn Nordic Center, in collaboration with Betsy Rhodes and Joanna Rudge Long.
Valley Quest is a program of Vital Communities, a regional nonprofit organization. Valley Quest is a collection of treasure hunts to help you discover and enjoy the wonders of the Upper Valley. For more information, visit their website at: http://www.vitalcommunities.org/Valleyquest/index.htm.