Stepping Stone - Winter 2019-2020
Newsletter of the Bennington Section of the Green Mountain Club
Comments on the Big Winter Snowfall of December 1-2…
Marty Beattie: Went out in my yard late this afternoon. Fell twice and could barely get out of the hole I made. I had to take my ski off to dig it out.
Marjorie March: Oh My! … so far, the Woolly Bears are right.
President: Lorna Cheriton
Vice President: Tim Marr
Treasurer/Membership: Bill Lyons
Trails: PJ Beaumont
Director: Martha Stitelman
Newsletter: Hal March and Lorna Cheriton
Profile of Ann and Billy Martin by Lorna Cheriton
Ann and Billy Martin moved to Bennington in August 2018, after traveling and working extensively abroad. They quickly became involved in the Bennington Section of the Green Mountain Club. Besides going on many GMC outings, they began exploring the local area. Both being fit and adventurous, they got to know many trails, outlooks and peaks, likely more than many local residents do. Before they were a year in Bennington, they started leading GMC outings and recently have taken over both managing and improving the Bennington Section Meetup page and designing a website for our Section (see article below). This dovetails nicely with their technology backgrounds.
Billy is originally from California and Ann grew up on Long Island. After graduating from the University of Arizona with a degree in Mathematics and Computer Science, Ann worked as a professional development trainer using Apple computers, providing leadership especially for educational technology programs. Billy began his career as a chemical engineer in the oil and gas field, and later moved into sales. He moved into the education field when he became Dr. Expo teaching science to the public at a traveling science exposition, also becoming a home-school teacher for high school kids of the expo staff and discovering he loved teaching and kids. They met teaching in Arizona.
Working in a private school in East Hampton, on eastern Long Island, they met many people hired from around the world, and someone suggested that the Martins could work overseas. Their teaching contracts, each two to over three years took them to Hong Kong, Lusaka (Zambia), Nanjing (China), Bonn (Germany), Baku (Azerbaijan). Later, in Cambodia, they taught conversational English as volunteers for 3 months.
While International Schools abroad had funds for the latest technology and emerging software, they needed experts like Ann and Billy to teach how to implement these technology tools to maximize student engagement and learning. Ann and Billy worked at having kids actively involved in learning and creative thinking and also advocated balance, kids not just sitting before screens, but having time outdoors.
Billy dealt with a variety of infrastructure, including wires, servers, wireless access points as well as all the background database systems that make a school run smoothly. Ann’s work made use this network system; she worked with students and teachers to effectively integrate technology into the curriculum. She loved her work with students from kindergarten to Grade 12, as well as with teachers. During their overseas careers they were both honored with the “Apple Distinguished Educator” award given to teachers for innovative and creative contribution to student education.
In addition to working for International schools, they volunteered to teach conversational English for 3 months in Cambodia. During this new experience they found the students were friendly, and loved to laugh and play games. Teachers are respected in this culture and students reflect that in the classroom.
During their vacations, and between contracts, the Martins made good use of the opportunities to travel. Among their travels: Malaysia, London, Northern Thailand, Vietnam, South Africa, Kenya and Congo. In Europe they biked and hiked in Germany, France, the Netherlands, Ireland, and Spain. Hiking in Turkey, they stayed in a cave hotel, saw churches and homes carved from rock, and experienced a balloon ride. In China they connected with two Chinese girls who arranged lodging, meals, and driver for a tour of Guilin and showed them a 600-year-old walled village and an underground cave. They traveled to see many sites in China including the Terra Cotta Warriors and the Great Wall. They did a 5-day bicycle journey through the Mekong Delta of South Vietnam. Their vacation in New Zealand was one of beaches, hiking, kayaking, and black water rafting through caves.
Returning to the US, they lived on Long Island, to help Ann’s elderly father, but made trips by motorcycle to explore the United States, including a USA coast-to-coast motorcycle journey. They bicycled the Great Allegheny Passage, an extremely well-maintained rail trail that goes 150 miles from Pittsburgh, PA to Cumberland, MD. The further away from cities, the better they liked it.
So, how did they wind up in Bennington? Their trips by motorcycle took them through Bennington, VT multiple times and they liked what they found - friendly people, small town, plethora of outdoor activities, colleges nearby. After their motorcycle quit right in downtown Bennington, a local Honda dealer was the one who asked "'Did we try the kill switch?" Yep, a sleeve hitting the never-before used kill switch did it. So, they like to say that their Goldwing led them to Bennington, stopped right there and said, “Hey, look around - it's a great town!’" They took the opportunity to have long talks with people at the Putnam Corners, Chamber of Commerce and the Blue Benn and say they liked Vermont because of Vermonters’ environmental thinking as well as the highway signs alerting drivers to the presence of moose. They boldly made an offer on a Bennington house without seeing it in person and were accepted, moving in August 2018. They say “Many people think we're crazy for moving north when so many retirees move south, but for us it seems to fit our lifestyle.”
Before they were a year in Bennington, they started leading GMC outings of various hikes in the local area. They have worked on trail and shelter maintenance with others of our local GMC and have adopted the Woodford Hollow trail. Hiking local trails, they have met people from California as well as overseas, who were very impressed with our trails and asked who maintains them, giving the Martins a justified pride of the trail maintenance that our Section does.
They both volunteer at the Greater Bennington Interfaith Community Services site, unloading and stocking foods, helping people and monitoring distribution. Ann also mentors GBICS' Food Fit, a 10-week class that teaches cooking as well as nutrition.
Ann and Billy invite anyone interested to visit their personal website: sharingourjourney.com
Nature Notes: Chickadees in Winter - by Terri Armat
Although tiny, Chickadees are well adapted to survive cold and snowy winters. Several wildlife ecologists, among them Susan M Smith, (Cornell University, Mt Holyoke College), Margaret Brittingham, (University of Wisconsin), Susan Sharbaugh, (University of Alaska-Fairbanks), studied this bird’s winter strategy. From late summer through fall they industriously gather and store seeds in tree crevices, logs and other snug spots. As winter draws near their brains grow larger, enabling them to better recall these food caches. Feathers become denser and roost sites are explored as the temperatures drop. Susan Sharbaugh tracked them diving into quarter-sized tree holes where protection from wind is found. She also found that they go into a state of “Torpor”, where they slow down their metabolism, lowering their body 12-15 F from 108 F, reducing energy consumption by 25 percent. To help prepare for the long cold nights, they gorge on seeds, suet, bits of meat from frozen carcasses, insect eggs, spiders, moth larva gleaned from tree bark. At the end of day their bodies are bulging with fat which is used up by shivering the night away. By morning all this fat is gone and must be replaced during the next day. The practice of setting out feeders for birds only seems to become important to survival when there is prolonged stretches of snowy cold weather.
The Future GMC Bennington Section Website and new Public Meetup Site
by Ann and Billy Martin
GMC is updating its presence in the digital world. The goals are (1) to attract more people to the GMC and (2) give people readily accessible information about the club and outdoor opportunities in the local area. There are two parts to the initiative to make this happen.
The first part of the initiative will be a GMC website. We want people, both local and visitors, to easily find information about the club and about outdoor activities in the area. There will be information about the GMC, local trails, links to other outdoor organizations such as the BATS system or SOAR, articles, interviews, podcasts, and basically anything that would be of interest to people visiting the site. This site will also link to a new GMC Meetup site where people can find information about, and signup for events such as hikes, bike rides, etc.
The second part of the initiative involves the GMC Meetup Site. Currently the GMC uses Meetup to schedule events such as hikes or bike rides. Meetup does a great job easily allowing events to be posted and people can sign-up to attend. It’s a great organizational tool and has done a good job for the club. The current difficulty is that the GMC Meetup Site is a private site. This means that anyone who wants to see what events are scheduled is unable to view the details of events without first joining the GMC Meetup. This presents many difficulties - it is time consuming for the organizer, it may deter people from going on events, it swells the ranks of the site with people who have to join to look around to see what is available. So in order to make this communication system work better in the future the current GMC Meetup site will be closing and a new Public GMC Meetup site will be opening. All members of the current GMC site will be informed about this switchover soon.
So, stay tuned as these sites develop! If you have ideas or content to include on the website please let the club know.
Ice Needle Formations
Billy and Ann Martin found these extraordinary ice formations while walking on the Shepard’s Well Trail where the path had an ample leaf covering but surrounded by light snow. Marjorie March identified them as ice needles (also called mush frost, stalk-ice, or hair frost, ice fibers, and in Sweden "Pipkrake”). Needle ice is a phenomenon that occurs when the temperature of the soil is above 32 degrees and the temperature of the air is below 32 degrees. The subterranean liquid water is brought to the surface via capillary action, where it freezes and contributes to growing needle-like ice columns. It is believed that those who have seen this have been kissed by the goddess of the forest!!
Endeavor to designate Bennington an Appalachian Trail Community
By Lorna Cheriton
Bennington Section members are working towards having Bennington designated a Appalachian Trail community, a recognition of communities that promote and protect the Trail. Our members were a strong presence at the initial meeting of stakeholders on October 1.
The meeting was led by Silvia Cassano, who assisted Great Barrington and North Adams achieve the designation and attended a meeting that led to a designation for Manchester (which, along with Norwich, are currently the only Vermont communities listed) and Jonah Spivah, of the Shires Outdoor and Adventure Recreation chamber working group. Among the benefits, Jonah said, are wider publicity for our town and recognition nationally and possibly internationally in guidebooks and other publications, social media sites and websites. These can boost local businesses and raise the image of Bennington as a destination for outdoors activities and recreation.
At the meeting, an advisory group was formed to prepare the 12-page application. My task is to write a letter in support of our application. The next opportunity for acceptance as a designated AT community will be in the spring.
Currently there are businesses such as the Catamount Motel, Henry’s, and Madison’s, as well as the local post office and volunteers that serve and help hikers in Bennington. Many GMC members have given rides into town or back to the trail and provided useful knowledge about our town or even a bed and shower. The Rec Center allows showers at no cost and Green Mountain Express stops to pick up hikers on the bus routes. The BBC offers information, public restrooms, temporary storage of pack, and use of bicycles. As an AT Designated Community, Bennington would commit to hosting an annual trail related event, promoting Appalachian-Trail educational programs, and encouraging local land use regulation and language that protect the trail through our area.
Other ideas are to:
- create a hiker services inventory and map, with routes to and from the trail, accessible via the internet.
- publicize our AT Community status,
- reach out to the business community, schools and the community to raise awareness and support,
- explore attracting “Blue Hikers,”
- utilize resources such as Prospect Mountain,
- include neighbor communities, and network with other groups such as VOREC AND SOAR.
- promote cycling, fishing, snowmobiling, and to
- develop language and signage supporting the AT/LT.
Anyone interested in participating in this endeavor should contact Tim Marr, also a member of the task force, Jonah Spivak at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Silvia Cassano at email@example.com.
WINTER 2019-SPRING 2020 SCHEDULE
Participants need to contact the leader in advance (as most of you do), not just show up.
December 11, 12 or 13 ? – Full Moon Ski/Snowshoe. If we have both skiable snow and bright moonlight, a Pop-Up moonlight ski will be posted with meeting place and time on Meetup. Leader Margie March (413) 458-3162.
Boxing Day December 26, 1pm: possible trip by Lorna and Hamilton.
Wednesday, January 1, 2020 - Ski or snowshoe or hike Bolles brook trail (A traditional GMC Benn New Year’s Day outing). Start the New Year with an energizing outing, a 2 hour or so out and back trip along the roaring Bolles Brook in the Glastenbury wilderness. All are welcome, whatever your pace. Snowshoers welcome.
We will stay together for a while, then some will go faster or farther. Conditions will be updated prior to the trip. Contact leader Tim Marr in advance if interested through meetup or call 518-257-0829. Meet at 1pm at the Bennington rec center.
January 9, 10 or 11 ? – Full Moon Ski/Snowshoe. Pop-Up ski if conditions are right. Check Meetup or call Margie March (413) 458-3162.
Saturday., January 11, 2020 - Backcountry ski in Woodford - If you want to join a
group of back country skiers who go out on a regular basis in Woodford, this is your
chance. We will ski off trail for about 3 hours in the Woodford state park or Aiken
wilderness at a relaxed pace, but conditions can be challenging at times. You will need
back country ski equipment and be comfortable with "bushwacking". Bring extra layers,
call 518-257-0829. If you cannot make this date but want to be on the email contact list
for back country skiing, contact Tim, or leave a message on Meetup. Meet at 11am at
the Bennington Rec Center. Please contact leader in advance if interested.
food and beverage. Contact the leader, Tim Marr, if interested, either through Meetup or
Third Sunday of each month afternoon - Easy Hike or Ski between 1 - 4 p.m. Meet at Rec. Center at 1 p.m. Leader: Harda Bradford
Saturday, Jan. 11, 7:00 PM - 15th Annual Backcountry Film Festival:
Evening of a collection of short films celebrating winter human-powered experiences and winter wildlands at Brooks-Rogers Recital Hall, Bernard Music Center, 54 Chapin Hall Drive, Williams College. The event is free. Seating first come, first served. Doors open at 6:30PM, show starts at 7PM. Arrive early to grab a seat, as well as to check out the information tables and purchase raffle tickets passes and goodies that will help you get outside this winter! Some DVDS of the BCFF will be available for $6 for those who may arrive late or want to take a copy home. Dutch Hill Alliance of Skiers and Hikers (a chapter of the Catamount Trail Association), Green Mountain Club Bennington Section, Bennington Area Trail System, and the Thunderbolt Ski Runners will have information available. Read more about the film line up here: winterwildlands.org/backcountry-film-festival-2019-20-film-line-up. Silvia Cassano (Cell: (802) 673-6990) is inviting GMC members to volunteer. She needs some help at the door, selling raffle tickets, setting up, etc.
Wednesday, Jan. 15, 7:00 pm Billy’s Knot Class. Duration: about 1 - 2 hours. When is the last time you tied a “Trucker’s Hitch”? Do you know now to shorten your tent rope without cutting it? Learn how to tie the 10 most useful knots. Great for everyday use as well as outdoors and camping. For beginners and pros alike. Limited to 10 participants. Teaching knot tying is best done in a small group setting. NOTE - originally I had asked everyone to bring rope BUT I have now found a package of short ropes and there will be enough for everyone. So, no need to bring any rope.
Location: The Martin’s home, 303 Prospect St, Bennington. 831-745-8600 Snacks will be provided. Knot Instructor: Billy Martin
Saturday, Jan. 18 Mountain Meadow Preserve, just north of Williamstown. Snowshoes or micro-spikes - check the new Meetup to see what is needed. Bring poles with snow baskets if desired. 4.3 mile loop trail which crosses the border between VT and MA; 3-4 hours; Elevation gain 646 feet. Some nice views at the top of the meadow and interesting trees in the wooded areas. Bring lunch and a warm drink. Bring a pad if you want to sit down. Meet at the Rec center at 10:00 for Bennington people. 10:30 at the Trailhead - there are 2 trailheads; after we check them out, look on the new Meetup to see which one we will start from. Trip Leaders: Ann and Billy Martin
Wednesday, February 5 – Ski Trip. Moderate ski trip of several hours on woodland trails with some hill. Hogback Mtn. or other location depending on conditions (postponed if unfavorable). Meet at Rec Center at 10:30. Bring snack and drink. Check Meet Up for last minute details and let me know of your interest and confirm by night before preferably. Stuart Bradford 802-447-7065 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
February 8, 9 or 10 ? - Full Moon Ski/Snowshoe. Pop Up trip if there is good snow and moonlight. Check Meetup or call leader, Margie March (413) 458-3162
Saturday, Feb. 15 - Woodford Trail. Snowshoes. Bring poles with snow baskets if desired. 3 mile loop trail around Adams Reservoir; 3 hours; Elevation gain 219 feet. Check new Meetup Site for any changes to these plans. See animal tracks, a frozen lake, pine forests, foot bridges and beautiful woodlands. Bring lunch and a warm drink. Bring a pad if you want to sit down. Meet at the Rec center at 10:00 for Bennington people who wish to share rides. 10:30 at the parking lot on the north side of Highway 9 in the snow mobile parking lot. Trip Leaders: Ann and Billy Martin 631-745-4576.
Saturday, Feb. 29 - A Leap Day Ski or a hike if not enough snow. Meet at 10 AM, location to be decided closer to the date, details will be posted on Meetup or contact leader Margie March (413) 458-3162.
Wednesday, March 4 – Ski Trip. Moderate ski trip of several hours on woodland trails with some hill. Hogback Mtn. or other location depending on conditions (postponed if unfavorable). Meet at Rec Center at 10:30. Bring snack and drink. Check Meet Up for last minute details and let me know of your interest and confirm by night before preferably. Stuart Bradford 802-447-7065 or email@example.com.
Saturday, March 7 - Green Mountain Club’s Winter Trails Day at the Green Mountain Club Headquarters in Waterbury Center. a celebration of all things winter, including group hikes local to the area, education and skills workshops, an extensive raffle, extreme sledding, bonfire, food and drink. Waterbury plans 10-12 hikes which need trip leaders, a bonfire which will need tending and various tasks throughout the day we could use a hand with. If you can volunteer, contact Lorne Currier, GMC Volunteer & Education Coordinator.
March 8, 9 or 10 ? - Full Moon Ski/Snowshoe. Last full moon of the winter. Will it be skiable? Check Meetup or call leader, Margie March (413)458-3162)
Sunday, March 15 – Annual Meeting. Starting at 5:30 at the UU Meeting House on School St.. Program TBA.
SPRING TRAILWORK 2020 April 18, 21, 25, May 2, 9-10 for the overnight. As in winter, dress for cold temps and wind; bring drink and high energy snack or lunch. Bring water resistant boots. Temperatures in the mountains tend to be 10 degrees lower than in Bennington.
Saturday, April 18 – Trail Work. As part of our Appalachian Trail Community commitment, day work party to clear trail and check on the Nauheim shelter. Rt. 9 north to Maple Hill power line viewpoint. 4.2 miles round trip, steep then moderate. Bring water and a lunch. Club provides tools. Meet at the Rec center at 9 am. Call Tim Marr for details, 802-442-3469.
Tuesday, April 21 – Trail Work. Day work party to clear trail. Rt. 9 south to Harmon Hill. Very steep, then easy. 3.6 miles round trip. Nice views of Bennington. Bring water and a lunch. Club provides tools. Meet at the Rec center at 9 am. Call PJ Beaumont for details, 802-442-3843.
Saturday, April 25 - Spring Bird Walk. 7am, meet at Greenberg Preserve off Belvidere St for a 2 hour stroll and lookabout. Linda Lyons
Saturday, April 25 – Trail Work. Day work party to clear trail. Maple Hill power line to Little Pond cut-off trail. Meet at the Rec center at 9 am. Call PJ Beaumont for details, 802-442-3843.
Saturday, May 2 – Trail Work. Day work party to clear trail. Little Pond cutoff trail to Glastenbury view overlook. Bring water and a lunch. Club provides tools. Meet at the Rec center at 9 am. Call PJ Beaumont for details, 802-442-3843.
Saturday, May 9 - Sunday May 10 – Overnight to Glastenbury. Trail Work: Overnight work party to clear trail and check Goddard Shelter on Glastenbury mountain. Day workers also welcome to help with cars, etc. Come enjoy this post and beam shelter provided by the Keenan family and the great views from the fire tower. Eight miles in, 5 miles out. Club provides tools. Bring overnight gear. Meet at the Rec center at 9 am. Call PJ Beaumont for details, 802-442-3843
Hubey Folsom would like to lead a few serious trips this winter, with folks having winter hiking experience: to be scheduled by weather and mutual agreement (likely fairly short notice to avoid the worst cold and wind. “I’ve not yet summited Mt Washington in January or February. Best to stay at AMC’s Joe Dodge Lodge the night before. My friend Ned and I want to hike from VT’s Mt Ellen to Mt Abraham this Winter. I’m also interested in a Winter attempt on NY’s Mt Marcy, probably from one of the heated cabins near John Brooks Lodge, some miles in from parking. I’d climb Big George in March again too. This year I hiked Franconia Ridge the first day of Spring. I’d hike other 4,000’ peaks this winter too, or stay at Harvard Cabin in Huntington Ravine to climb Big George via the Escape Hatch. email HFolsom_at_sover.net.
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