It was hard to believe what I found when I first moved to Vermont.
Sure, that was over two whole years ago, and a lot has changed, but at the same time not much actually had.
When I first moved here, the trails were looking bright and fresh. There was lots of great new terrain to let the outdoor wild-child in me let loose with – mountain biking, backcountry skiing, trail running, you name it.
The one thing that I was most surprised about though: lack of backcountry accommodations.
It’s one thing to have many quaint B&B’s scattered all around for the out-of-state leaf-peepers, but another entirely to own and operate a cabin or hut of some kind in the woods. I guess a lot of people prefer the former.
Last November, the Catamount Trails Association hosted their annual ski-addict’s paradise event, the Vermont Backcountry Forum. It is a plethora of sweet raffle prizes, good beer and some really inspirational updates on the state of backcountry skiing in Vermont. A must-see event.
At that meeting, Brian Mohr of Vermont Backcountry Alliance stole the show telling the audience about all of the great things happening in the industry. There was excitement surrounding some glade projects and some new initiatives that were underway.
Can you guess one other topic that was talked about?
You guessed it: backcountry accommodations.
The unfortunately reality is that when you mix a bunch of hardy skiers with a lot of booze, you get for a crowd that isn’t quite focused on what’s being said and more so on the skis that were about to be raffled off. To put it lightly, the discussion didn’t generate a lot of, um, discussion.
After the meeting, I chatted with Brian about the presentation and what his thoughts were. I was itching for more information. His overall impression was positive, but he was feeling the same sentiment I was – it was ineffective.
It wasn’t enough. “There needs to be more that we could do to get this project going. But what?” I thought to myself.
That’s when it hit me, it was time to form a meeting!
Collaborating with some of the best names in the outdoor industry of Vermont, I hosted a meeting later that year to get deeper into conversation and really understand what we, the outdoorsy people of Vermont, wanted.
It was from that meeting and a few others following that we decided there needed to be an organization. A dedicated group of people that could put there sole focus towards creating a hut network in Vermont. By working with existing operators, we could leverage what was already in-place within the state and then look to build new huts to fill in the gaps. We named it the Vermont Huts Association.
It was perfect! The grand idea.
Together, RJ Thompson and myself showed up to the table with a lot of ideas and energy. It was this energy that drove both of us to to be a part of forming this organization, and that’s when our joint efforts began.
It was with our ideas and fearlessness (naivety?) that we’ve started doing the work. We’ve had a lot of great conversations with influencers in this state and have made leaps and bounds in our progress (including finishing our website!).
While our official formation date was only August 22nd, 2016, (31 days since the time of this post) it seems like that was already a lifetime ago. We’ve held more conversations with the likes of many, started our first push for getting out into the public eye and have consumed more than our fair share of coffee.
Finally, we continue to let our vision for skiing or biking in between huts grow every day. Oh, how sweet it will be!