As the autumn leaves fall, and some of us have already woken up to a bit of white stuff on the ground, I thought I would stoke the ski fire with a bit of Catamount Trial inspiration. Over the next few months, I am going to be sharing the stories of individuals who have completed all 300 miles and 31 sections of the CT, or, as they are affectionately known; End-to-Enders.
For our first spotlight, we are going to hear from Jim Goodine. Jim is a long time CTA member and lives in Brattleboro VT. He grew up in Central Maine snowshoeing and skiing on “Junk Skis.” After 4 years of service in the US Submarine Force, he was a part of the “Vermont Hippy Back-to-The-Land movement in the 60’s and 70’s.” A carpenter since 1971, he build his own house, and has served on many local boards and elected positions. Among all of this, Jim became an End-to-Ender in 2011. Lets hear a bit about Jim’s experience on the Catamount Trail.
Q: How did you complete the CT and what was your motivation to become an End-to-Ender?
“I skied with my ski-partner Ray “Rudge” Canning and we always skied together over 11 years. We like to ski new areas and when the kids moved out we just got more interested in the CT. We had done plenty of remote backcountry skiing and were always well prepared and in shape. We saw areas of Vermont that we never would have passed through and at a skier’s pace, you have plenty of time to look around.
We had 2 interruptions due to cancer but we really weren’t on a tight schedule anyway. We mostly skied sections by ourselves or with a friend or 2. We did get on a week-long tour up north to help with the car shuttle.”
Q: What was the most challenging part of the trail?
“The hardest part may have been at Lake Elmore with very cold, high wind conditions in open country. Another tough experience was on a section where we started in ankle deep new snow that was like very heavy oatmeal. We had already done our car drop-off and knew how long we had before dark. Our progress in those conditions was much too slow to make it through the section. We sat down to calculate our speed over ground and have a snack and, as if on cue, a snowmobile went by and we easily picked up our speed on the “groomed” trail. I, for one, will never condemn snow machines because they are now quieter, don’t stink as much, groom for us, and are more than willing to help in a rescue situation.”
Q What was your favorite section of the CT?
“Our favorite section may have been the north side of Bolton down into Nebraska Valley because it was so different from the rest of the trail. The snow was 4’ deep and cruising down through the open hardwoods was pretty special. In southern Vermont, we get mostly flat terrain so some hills were very welcome.”
Q: What advice would you give to anyone who is working on, or considering an end-to-end trip?
“If some one is attempting an End-to-End on the Catamount Trail, I would strongly advise them to never ski alone, get the guide book, to get on with a weekend or week-long tour, take their time, don’t necessarily ski sections in order or even all northbound or all southbound. Take it slow and enjoy the days. Watch and respect the weather. Lots of sections have very remote areas. Last winter was not great for skiing but I had accompanied a woman who was pretty new to cross country skiing. She was determined to ski the entire trail in one winter by herself. Several of us with a lot of experience begged her not to be alone and she had to abandon her effort at the end of Section 4 due to thin snow. About a mile from the end of our skiing Section 4, she did a heavy face-plant and even loosened a tooth. At that moment she fully realized how important it was to have a couple of experienced skiers with her. She was a bit disoriented for a short time and definitely needed help. She promised to never ski alone as she ticks off the sections.
My ski partner Rudge and I are the only skiers to have skied the length and width of Vermont, as far as I know. At the time that we did the east-west trek, we knew all of the End-to-Enders and none of them had skied the east-west distance. You can find our complete story in an article I wrote for the CTA newsletter or an article that appeared in the Bennington Banner. (Yes, I believe in promoting our sport whenever the opportunity presents itself.) We actually found the Catamount to be easier because of the guidebook. Trying to develop your own route from maps and local knowledge is very difficult and you will get lost… or at least a bit bewildered… quite a few times.”
Jim lives in Bennington with his wife Chickie, and when he isn’t skiing Jim likes to sail, paddle, camp, hike, travel, volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, and build stuff with his 2 Grandchildren. He has been involved with the CTA for many years, as a volunteer Ski Cubs instructor and enthusiastic member. As he said, he is passionate about promoting the sport, and that means helping others experience skiing in Vermont.
“Some of our best times have been hosting skiers for a few nights during the week-long tours and hosting a few “Crash and Burn Gluttony Extravaganza” parties during the week-longs. Jan Rosendahl, from the CTA board, started that great tradition at his place in Lowell and it is a great way to get to know your fellow skiers and wind down a ski day.”
Thanks to many wonderful people like Jim, the CT has become something more than just a path through the Vermont woods; it is a community that thrives on building relationships and sharing experiences. With that being said, I encourage all of you to get out this winter, and I will leave you with these final words from Jim that illustrate what he, and our skiing community is all about!
“Don’t forget that there is a lot of great skiing in this area, not just on the Catamount Trail. Take a vacation, stay here, and we’ll show you some of the local winter wonders. Chickie is a great cook and the sauna will get the kinks out.”