It’s no secret that the Northeast Kingdom had an awesome winter in 2018-2019. Here at the COC, we were lucky enough to have bountiful, consistent snow starting in early November and lasting well into April, which is certainly not always the case in our ever-warming climate. At the end of the season, Barton resident and Mark Guilmette emailed us with a cool stat: this year he broke his record for the most consecutive ski days in a season, with 153 days in a row, and 160 total in the season. His previous record of 140 days was last season, and he flew past that this winter! We always love to hear about locals who have endless enthusiasm for the sport, and we certainly appreciate Mark’s gratitude towards the Outdoor Center. Here’s a little summary of a chat we had with him, including his winter, how he got into nordic skiing, race plans, and more.
Mark started his ski season at the COC this winter on November 14th, his earliest ever start to the season. The streak didn’t start officially until 2 days after Thanksgiving, and from there, he skied every day of the winter until April 25th. His last day of skiing at the COC was April 14th, which was also the latest COC ski day he’s experienced. After that, he finished the season at Willoughby State Forest. Combined with 5 days of skiing before Thanksgiving, and 2 days near the end of April, that made for 160 days in his ski season. He skis every day after work, and on the weekends gets in longer skis. For context, I counted up the numbers of days that a Green Racing Project skier would do during the winter season (with the benefit of early season snow in Canada, but alas, including days off at least once a week), and only got to around 120. Extra impressive on Mark’s part!
Mark lives in Barton, exactly 9.3 miles from the Center. When weather prevented him from driving to the COC to ski (which happened a lot this season), he skied on the 11 acres of trails on his property. His best ski of the season was a 20 degree day where he skied the COC perimeter trails under blue sky with fresh snow. The worst ski happened on a day when rain made the trails very icy and even with metal edged skis it was difficult to get an edge. Still a ski day though! Mark has a few favorite skis to do at the Center. One is the perimeter, which includes the Lakeside Trail, Max’s Pond, Ruthie’s, Bohen’s trails, Sam’s to Elinor’s, Duck Pond, and Murphy’s field. Another favorite route does a Figure 8 on the Common and Village Trails. Of course, he also likes to ski the Highland Lodge Connector, but with a long loop at Highland first and then finishing with Grand Tour.
Mark met his wife on the Appalachian Trail in 1981 and she introduced him to Nordic skiing later that year. Prior to that, he had only skied once before, but over the years he started to ski more and more, and in his words “be a little more athletic about it.” In 2004 Mark skied the Craftsbury Marathon for the first time. He has since done the Marathon two more times, skied in the American Birkebeiner, and hopes to compete in the Norwegian Birken soon. He also gives back to the ski community a lot! Beyond volunteering at most ski events at the COC, for the past eight years Mark has served as a guide for visually impaired skiers at New England “Ski-for-Light” events. He owns 13 pairs of skis and during the winter he considers the COC a home away from home, where most of the staff know him from his frequent ski visits.
According to Mark, “it’s 180 days ‘til skiing at the COC. Hopefully not more!” We share his sentiment and can’t wait to see him on the trails next season!