seeing nearly the entire length of the state, one would think we’d covered more than 10 percent of the available snowmobile trail network.
The math is clear, though. Out of about 4,700 miles of Vermont Association of Snow Travelers (VAST) trail, we rode 455 miles. And we only get to 10 percent by rounding up from 9.68 percent.
But we did prove that we could get a good feel for Vermont and VAST’s trail network in a short period of time, from the steep maple-covered Green Mountain National Forest in the south and central parts of the state, to the rolling rocky pine forests in the northeast corner. That’s an advantage in a state that’s 158 miles long and 90 miles wide.
A spaghetti-like network of well-marked, well-maintained trails make it hard to travel in a straight line, though we’re not sure we’d want to race from border to border. There’s too many white clapboard churches begging for a photo op, there are culinary treats to sample at every stop and there are plenty of steep switchbacks to remind a snowmobiler that it’s OK to sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.
The Yellow Bucket Trail
Jeezum crow and puckerbrush
There’s a special memorial at trail junction WR29, southwest of Barnard.
For the random passer-by, the yellow school bus mounted to the trail sign looks like a forgotten kid’s toy.
For local snowmobilers Leon “Woodie” Woods and Gordon Holmes, it’s a memorial to a previous area resident.
It’s called Buster’s Bus, after a gentleman named Buster (“I don’t even know his last name,” Woodie says) who lived a solitary life in the woods in an old bus. Buster is now gone, as is his unusual home — but the marker and memories remain.
As with most snowmobile areas, there’s a story or a legend behind every turn in the trail. Sometimes it’s lingo — “Jeezum crow!” Walter said as he went off trail and landed in the puckerbrush. Sometimes, it’s a geographical reference, such as the “Northeast Kingdom” in regard to the three counties tucked into the state’s northeast corner. Other times, it’s a specific spot or trail.
There’s a low spot on trail 12 where the trail makes a 90-degree turn. It’s called “No Town” and it’s not marked on the trail map — but it’s something Woodie and Gordon stop to explain. This is the site of an old logging camp, an industry that helped define early Vermont. We talked about the loggers, their hardscrabble lives, the forest, and the ghosts that remain at an otherwise ordinary bend in the trail.
In the Northeast Kingdom, there’s the Yellow Bucket Trail (Corridor 3) — a throwback to the early days of snowmobiling where the singletrack trail was marked by a series of yellow pails. The trail is wider now, but the trail markers still remain in the form of painted yellow coffee cans.