We began 2021 while enjoying a few days’ stay at the Nulhegan Hut in the Northeast Kingdom, continuing our tradition of spending New Year’s Eve at an off-grid cabin. This hut is a bit more “luxurious” than the one we have visited for NYE the past few years, and we thought it would be a great start to a year of recovery from the horrendousness of COVID 2020.
Bu alas, Covid stuck around, and the optimism of the arrival of vaccines was soon dulled by the arrival of additional variants which kept the Canadian border closed, once again limiting our travel plans. However, we cannot complain, as we have escaped the pandemic relatively unscathed, and a disruption of travel and trips is a small price compared to that paid by others. It has been and up and down year in terms of what we can do, where we can do it, and what precautions need to be taken! So, vaxxed x 3, fully masked, and socially distant, we enter 2022with a cautious sense of optimism.
In summary, the highlights of 2021 are as follows!
- Paddling season began on March 23, and ended on November 21…206 days on the water! The early paddling season was welcomed, since snowshoeing season ended abruptly in March. Due to a low snowpack, and the ski areas closing uphill traffic, we were unable to reach our target of 125 days snowshoeing.
- Lots of great wildlife and bird sightings, though no moose or bears while paddling this year. We joined VINS, and are training to be volunteer wild bird rescuers/transporters. We have enjoyed visiting the Vermont Institute for Natural Sciences, especially of the opportunity to tweak our amateur bird photography skills.
- Our advocacy work in local groups continues, highlighted by the development of a pilot project at Waterbury Reservoir, installing fishing line recycling bins. https://www.friendsofwaterburyres.org/single-post/2021-monofilament-fishing-line-recycling-project
- No big canoe trip this year, but we did have some extended time in the Adirondacks and in the Northeast Kingdom, paddling some new to us lakes, and enjoying a nice foliage season.
- Gryphon had unexpected TPLO surgery on his right knee in August but recovered in time for some end of season canoeing. He is doing quite well, and has enjoyed a return to snowy trails.
- Edgar had minor eye surgery, to remove a lump from his eyelid, back in October, but he has also recovered nicely, and is back to his enthusiastic, puppy-like 10 year old self!
- We had a record number of eagle sightings this year:
Mature: 114 total 51 while canoeing
Immature 72 total 36 while canoeing
- The winter of 2021-2022 has been off to a sluggish start; a little snow in November then weeks of thawing, frozen ground, mud, and rain. Remnant snow and occasional light snowfalls have meant we continue to snowshoe whenever possible, but our microspikes have also proven essential.
- We did not complete as many Trailspace reviews this year, but did have a chance to test out a cool pre-distribution stove adapter. https://www.trailspace.com/gear/msr/lowdown-remote-stove-adapter/#review41677
- No hut camping this New Year’s Eve…Vermont Huts Association altered their reservation policies so, even though we are VHA members, we did not even have the chance to reserve the hut for any holiday periods. In the past, if we got lucky, we could snag a reservation in the members-only, hope to get lucky, early reservation system. However, now, certain “member partners” of VHA get to reserve dates even before the general member’s opening reservation dates. We do have the Nulhegan Hut for a Town Meeting Day weekend getaway in March, and will probably reserve again for fall paddling.
- This year’s paddling plans are not very exciting, as once again, we are not assured of easy access to Canada. COVID is running rampant again, and border closure issues persist. We may return to Western Maine, where we have not camped in a few years.
So, 2021 ends with a foggy, slushy, and wet snowshoe outing close to home. We hope that this winter does not turn out to be a total bust, but if so, there are only 90 days until canoe season, so that is something to look forward to! We are probably archiving this blog, since most of our followers take advantage of our posts on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook; we have just started to share some videos on Vermont Paddle Pups on YouTube. However,the blog posts will be scarce, and probably be mostly trip reports or links to our other activities. Happy New Year, and keep safe!