The Hemlock Paradise Pool Quest in Thetford, Vermont

Subbasin Spotlight!

This year’s Aquatic Adventure Super Quest showcases the 5 subbasins that make up the Upper Connecticut River Valley, or, more fondly, the Upper Valley. A subbasin is a term used to describe a watershed within a watershed. While a watershed drains to a major river, a subbasin drains to a tributary of that major river. So in our case, the basin that drains to the Connecticut River, and stretches from Canada to the Long Island Sound, is the Connecticut River Watershed, and the Upper Valley subbasins are the mini-watersheds within it. All but one span both Vermont and New Hampshire sides of the Connecticut river, and all ultimately drain to it.

WHAT IS A WATERSHED

These subbasins are named by the rivers that anchor them. Just as all water in the Connecticut River watershed drains to the Connecticut River, all water that falls in a particular subbasin drains to its namesake river(s). Going from North to South we have the following 5 subbasins in our region:

  1. The Wells: Vermont’s Wells River both starts and ends in its own subbasin. Here you’ll also find New Hampshire’s Ammonousuc River, which flows to the Connecticut River all the way from its headwaters in the “Lakes of the Clouds” on the western slopes of Mt. Washington.
  2. The Waits: This subbasin is home to two 25-mile long rivers: The Waits and Ompompanoosuc, both in Vermont. Here you’ll also find Lake Fairlee–a natural lake, it was enlarged by damming a tributary to the Ompompanoosuc in 1939. Towns in this subbasin include Bradford, Strafford, Thetford, Orford…sense a theme? The suffix “ford” in a town name refers to the presence of shallow stream crossings, of which these towns certainly have many!
  3. The White: The White River begins near the crest of Vermont’s Green Mountains and flows 60 miles before it greets the Connecticut River in the aptly named White River Junction. The three branches of this river host an array of sparkling swimming holes and rock formations as they wind through especially hilly terrain. This subbasin connects the quaint towns of Sharon, Royalton, Bethel, Randolph, and many more. This is our only single-state subbasin, and calls Vermont its home.
  4. The Mascoma-Black-Ottauquechee: This massive subbasin is host to five large Connecticut River tributaries: The Mascoma (New Hampshire), Sugar (New Hampshire), Ottauquechee (Vermont), Black (Vermont), and Williams (Vermont) Rivers. The New Hampshire side boasts the highest concentration of lakes in the region, including the largest, Lake Sunapee, where Sugar River gets its start. Towards the southern edge of this subbasin, visit the Williams River’s inlet-strewn Herrick’s Cove for countless bird species and great paddling.
  5. The West: While the 53-mile West River (Vermont) anchors this subbasin, it flows farther South than the Upper Valley. The shorter, more northerly Saxton’s River (Vermont), however, flows through the towns of Grafton, Rockingham, and Westminster, and is dotted with waterfalls, sandy beaches, and deep pools. Steep, narrow gorges and unique outcroppings of bedrock add dimension to the hills in this subbasin.

If you haven’t yet, get your copy of the Aquatic Adventure Super Quest to start exploring the variations between these beautiful, fascinating subbasins today! You can print your own here (11×17 paper), pick up a copy at the Vital Communities office (195 North Main St, White River Junction), or find one at your local library. Then, register your team (pick a fun name!), and start discovering our region anew with our 10 featured Quests. Swimming holes, waterfalls, sun-soaked lakes, mill history, and babbling brooks will guide you through summer fun and learning—you’ve got ’til November 1! Victorious Super Quest teams all win commemorative patches and are entered to win our grand prize!

Happy Questing!

 

Union Village Quest 1

Rediscovering Questing: Aquatic Adventure Super Quest

Having lived in the region all my life, I grew up Valley Questing with my family. I recently realized, however, that I haven’t done one in almost ten years, so the Aquatic Adventure Super Quest was a perfect opportunity to stretch my legs and get back in the habit. On a beautiful Friday, I gathered up my mother and my dog and headed out to do the Union Village Quest.

Union Village Quest Gate

We set out with confidence, having been going to the Union Village Dam consistently for many years. I learned to ride a bike there, and have attended countless potlucks and birthday parties in the shaded picnic area by the stream. The sun beat down, but the bending forest allowed us to march up the hill without feeling the heat. My dog, excited to be out and about after having recovered from a hurt paw, raced up and down the hill and stared back at us to wonder why we weren’t running as fast as he was. We paused by the stream, watching a couple of butterflies and figuring out where the Quest clues were leading us next.

Here, we made a wrong turn. Assuming that our years of experience with the place would be enough, we strode up the path, only worrying slightly when there seemed to be a very long stretch between clue landmarks. Eventually, after running into a dead end, retracing our steps, and finding another, we were forced to admit that we needed to go back even farther. But there was no reason to be frustrated–the day was beautiful, the dog was happy, and we were in no hurry, so we walked back to the last spot we were sure of and resumed our search.

When we did spot the slim entrance to the trail we were looking for (thanks to my mother!), we saw the “stone find of history” indicated by the Quest clues: the foundations of an old bridge, which we had spent years walking within feet of and never once seen! We wound around the little path, shaded by trees as it ran along the edge of the river. All of a sudden, the defined path faded away, and we were confronted by the end of the Quest. Because it is part of the Aquatic Adventure, I was expecting to see the little stream that traces the edge of the recreation area of the dam, but I was entirely and pleasantly surprised by the beautiful, shady swimming hole at the base of three cascading waterfalls. We hadn’t even realized we were getting close!

Union Village Quest 4

We located and opened up the birdhouse, which held the quest box, and stamped twice–once with the unique stamp, and once with the piece of the big Super Quest stamp. As we replaced the box, called the dog in from his swim in the shady pool, and wandered back to the car, we started wondering about what other Quests we could do soon. Even a decade later, Questing was just as involving and exciting as it had ever been!

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Super Quest 2018 Aquatic Adventure: The Quests

The 2018 Aquatic Adventure Super Quest is live! This Valley Quest challenge is a tour de force of summer fun. Register your team today for this free guided exploration of Upper Valley swimming holes, waterfalls, streams, and mill town lore. The following 10 Quests highlight various water features, teaching all the way. They are open to the public from May 1-November 1. Download and print the clues from the links here, then collect a stamp impression from each Quest’s hidden box on your stamp sheet to complete the challenge!

  1. The Floodplain Quest, Haverhill, New Hampshire
  2. The Strafford Watershed Quest, Strafford, Vermont
  3. Union Village Quest, Thetford, Vermont
  4. Flat Rock Quest, Orford, New Hampshire
  5. Barnard Academy Forest Quest, Barnard, Vermont
  6. The Energy Quest at Boston Lot, West Lebanon, New Hampshire
  7. The Quest Where the River and Mill Combine, Lebanon, New Hampshire
  8. Beaver Brook Quest, Brownsville, Vermont
  9. Muckross Quest, Springfield, Vermont UPDATE (6/28/18): ONLY ACCESSIBLE ON WEEKENDS THROUGH MID-AUGUST. DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS QUEST MONDAY-FRIDAY. There is a temporary active construction site blocking access to the Quest Monday-Friday. We have permission from the Park Manager to Quest on weekends, as the construction site is only active during the work week. Email Lauren@VitalCommunities.org if this is an issue: she has a back-up stamp in her office.
  10. Sunapee Harbor Quest, Sunapee, New Hampshire

Happy Questing!

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Protecting our Waterways

We in the Upper Valley owe a lot to our wondrous waterways. Our rivers, brooks, ponds, lakes, wetlands, and marshes provide us with inspiration, adventure, and solace, not to mention drinking water and electricity! They host entire ecosystems, teeming with life of all sorts. Conservation agencies in our region work hard to keep our waters healthy. We learned a bit about these amazing groups in the process of creating the 2018 Aquatic Adventure Super Quest, and want to share what we learned with you. All of these groups welcome volunteers, and many even organize big volunteer events like river clean-ups and waterway monitoring workshops. If you want to put your weight behind one of the many Upper Valley watershed conservation efforts, find the group closest to you from the ones highlighted here:

The Connecticut River Conservancy “is the voice for the Connecticut River, from source to sea.” It works in all four states through which the river runs (New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Connecticut) on various aspects of the river’s health, from planting trees on the riverbanks and removing defunct dams for fish habitat to diverting sewage streams, cleaning up trash, and testing water quality.

Zooming in on the twin states, the Connecticut River Joint Commissions have been meeting since 1989 to bring the best ideas and efforts from each state’s Connecticut River advisory commission to the table. These groups work towards benefiting the river and the people who depend on it. While the Joint Commissions have no power to regulate, they leverage other resources to keep the public involved in governmental decisions that affect the river, create corridor plans, provide grants, and advocate for the river in many other ways.

Photo from the White River Partnership

Photo from the White River Partnership

On the western side of the river, the Vermont state government’s Department of Environmental Conservation regulates water supply and quality, manages and protects watersheds, river corridors, and floodplains, conducts research and monitoring, handles wastewater and drinking water, directs recreation, and conducts dozens of other operations that touch on water bodies in the Upper Valley. They generously funded Valley Quest’s 2017 Watershed Challenge project with a Watershed Grant. Volunteering with them would be a great way to say thanks.

To the east, the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services casts a similarly wide net in its work on the state’s waterways. They lend water quality monitoring equipment, lead educational programs, manage and protect rivers, and partner with local organizations to manage watersheds, among many other things.

Photo from the White River Partnership

Photo from the White River Partnership

Several groups in the Upper Valley focus on a particular watershed, river, or lake. The White River Partnership, for example, leads grassroots efforts from its Royalton, VT headquarters to promote “the long-term health of the White River and its watershed.” Lately, they’ve been monitoring water quality, hosting river cleanups, planting trees to improve flood resilience, expanding recreational access to the river, and keeping an eye on both native crayfish and fish populations and nonnative invasive species to restore and maintain wildlife habitat.

Another local group focused on a specific river and watershed is the Black River Action Team, which proclaims, “What began as a one-time cleanup of the Black River in southeastern Vermont has evolved into a full-blown grassroots watershed organization. Welcome to the wonderful, wet world of the Black River Action Team!”

If you live near the Mascoma River, the Mascoma Watershed Conservation Council is your go-to group. Its work has historically focused on funding research studies and bringing land around the Mascoma River under conservation.

The Lake Sunapee Protective Association is a group with longevity—they’ve been around since 1898! The LSPA monitors water quality through sampling and laboratory analysis, conducts scientific research, publishes newsletters, checks the spread of invasive species, and leads educational programs.

The Connecticut River and its Upper Valley tributaries give us places to fish, boat, and swim, generate our electricity, irrigate our crops, enrich our soil, and give us fresh water to drink. To maintain, conserve, and improve these benefits, consider joining one of the many local, vibrant watershed conservation efforts, and contact one of these agencies today!

Photo from the White River Partnership

Photo from the White River Partnership

 

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And the Super Quest Winner Is…

Every year, all completed Super Quests are entered into a grand prize drawing. The winner/winning team is picked at the annual Vital Communities Open House in White River Junction. At the event this past Friday, the “Hartland Hunters”—Chuck, Flo, and Aiden—were awarded the 2017 Super Quest grand prize! Chuck and Flo accepted their loot on behalf of their grandson Aiden, who Quests with them every summer when he visits from his home in Texas.

We’re so glad that this family enjoys the adventure and learning behind every Quest and hope they enjoy their winnings. This year’s basket included an array of on-theme goodies: a set of forest-friendly field guides, a couple day passes to VINS, Valley Quest t-shirts and books, and an issue of Northern Woodlands, a Vermont publication that promotes forest stewardship. Congratulations, Chuck, Flo, and Aiden!

Enter our Watershed Quest Challenge!

This summer we launched our 2017 Watershed Quest Challenge, designed to encourage YOU to get outside and explore your favorite Upper Valley pond, stream, river, or swimming hole—and write a Valley Quest! Watershed Quest submissions will have the chance to be featured in the 2018 Super Quest, and the author of the winning Quest will receive a grand prize.

For many, the idea of writing a Valley Quest can be daunting, but fear not—anybody can write a Quest! We encourage you to get outside your comfort zone and learn about the history of the special places in your backyard.

For those of you interested in the Watershed Quest Challenge but unsure where to start, we have a ton of resources online, as well as a short video series! Check out the first video below:

 

 


Many thanks to our Watershed Quest Challenge sponsors:

Vermont Conservation department logoFarm-Way Logo

The Miraculous American Chestnut

The Miraculous American Chestnut

This year’s Super Quest was designed in honor of the beloved
Miraculous Trees Quest, written by Ted Levin and Steve Glazer in 2000.
The Quest ended at a mature American chestnut tree, the last known
tree in the region. The tree finally succumbed to the chestnut blight in
2016, causing us to close this Quest.


Historical photo of American chestnut tree, W. Virginia, 1924, courtesy of the Forest History Society, Durham, N.C

Historical photo of American chestnut tree. W. Virginia. 1924. The Forest History Society, Durham, N.C.

 

 

It’s hard to believe, but the American chestnut was once the most common tree found among Eastern forests.[1] These “miraculous” trees were a staple among timber with its straight grains, light weight, and workability.[2] Sadly, American chestnuts are now an extremely rare site. Just over 100 years ago, the Chestnut blight was accidentally imported into the US from China and has since devastated the American chestnut population.[3]  When one encounters an American chestnut today, it’s a truly special experience.

 

 

 

What is the Chestnut blight?

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Chestnut Bligh Canker by William Powell. The American Chestnut Foundation.

The American chestnut blight is a “wound pathogen”—a tree disease that enters through openings on tree bark. Specifically, the blight targets the vascular cambium (the layer of tissue directly beneath the bark) and shuts down movement of water and nutrients within the tree.[4]

While the chestnut blight does not necessarily kill the tree, it does stop growth from the areas above the infection site.[5] No new tissues can grow, so the nutrient flow in the tree is stunted as old tissue is sloughed off. In many cases the tree will die, but there have been cases where trees are able to survive with blight infection.

 

 

 

Conservation Efforts

The American Chestnut Foundation (ACF) is on the forefront of saving this species by hybridizing the remaining American chestnut’s with the blight-resistant Chinese chestnut.[6] The hybrids are 15/16 American chestnut, and 1/16 Chinese chestnut. The hope is that these trees will have American chestnut characteristics with the added bonus of blight resistance.[7]

Another effort around combating the chestnut blight is the use of hypo-virulence. Hypo-virulence, meaning “reduced ability to infect,” introduces a viral strain that attacks and weakens the blight.[8] By introducing this strain to individual trees, some American chestnuts have recovered. However, the blight is able to spread faster than the virus, so a large scale plan for how this would work is still in the making.


[1] “History of the American Chestnut.” The American Chestnut Foundation

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] “How Chestnut Blight Devastated the American Chestnut.” The American Chestnut Foundation.

[5] Gina Childs. “Chestnut’s Last Stand.” Wisconsin Natural Resources Magazine.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Tom Horton “Revival of the American Chestnut.” American Forests.

[8] “Control of Chestnut Blight (Department of Ecosystem Science and Management).” Department of Ecosystem Science and Management.

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Miraculous Trees- Identification Guide

Our 2017 Super Quest is now live! This year’s theme is “Miraculous Trees” where we celebrate the beautiful tree diversity present in our backyard. Many of the Quests featured this year require some basic tree identification, so we’ve put together a short guide to help you!

Tree Components

General Terms

  • Deciduous: A tree that sheds its leaves annually
  • Coniferous: A tree that bears cones

Leaves

A major way we identify trees is by their leaves! Leaves carry out photosynthesis which provides food for the tree and releases oxygen into the air.

Leaf Types

  • Compound Leaf: A leaf with more than one blade (leaflet), where all blades are attached to a single leaf stem, which then attaches to the twig
  • Simple Leaf: A single leaf blade where its single stem attaches to the twig

Leaf Placement

  • Alternate: Leaves are staggered and not placed directly across from each other along a twig
  • Opposite: Two or three leaves that are directly across from each other on the same twig

Leaf Characteristics

  • Lobes: Outer Projections that shape a leaf
  • Teeth: Notches on the outer edges of a leaf
  • Sinus: The spaces between lobes of a leaf
  • Pinnate: Characteristic of some compound leaves that have more than one branch

Branches and Twigs

Grow out of the tree trunk and provide support for leaves, fruit, and flowers. Branches also branch alternate or opposite.

Seeds/ Fruit/ Flowers

These are present for reproduction purposes. Many trees have seeds or cones that are designed to spread through transport vectors, such as the wind or insects!

Trunk

A layered network that provides the tree with protection and transportation networks that move water and food throughout the tree. The outer bark is what we can visibly see to help us identify specific tree species.

  • Furrow: grooves that appear on the bark of the tree

Roots

Not terribly helpful in identification, but are extremely important in obtaining water and nutrients from the soil.

 

Now that we have a basic overview of tree features, let’s identify some common ones around the Upper Valley! Key features of a tree depend on the species, so it’s important to recognize leaves, bark, fruit, and height.

 


White pineSpecies: Eastern White Pine

Coniferous/Deciduous: Coniferous

Height at maturity (ft’): 50-80′

Key Characteristics: Alternate needles that are bunched in groups of 5, needles are 2-5” long. Cones are large and 6-8” long.

 

 

eastern hemlock

Species: Eastern Hemlock

Coniferous/Deciduous: Coniferous

Height at maturity (ft’): 60-75′

Key Characteristics: Deeply furrowed bark. Short flattened needles, with tiny brown cones.

 

 

white birch

Species: White Birch

Coniferous/Deciduous: Deciduous

Height at maturity (ft’): 50-70′

Key Characteristics: Peeling white bark, alternate toothed simple leaves. New Hampshire’s state tree!

 

 

beech

Species: Beech

Coniferous/Deciduous: Deciduous

Height at maturity (ft’): 50-70′

Key Characteristics: Leaves are simple, alternate, with parallel veins that lead to sharp incurved teeth. 3-6” long. Glossy green color in summer, copper in the fall/winter.

 

 

sugar maple

Species: Sugar Maple

Coniferous/Deciduous: Deciduous

Height at maturity (ft’): 80-115′

Key Characteristics: Bark is grey and furrowed. Leaves are opposite with 5 lobes. Vermont’s state tree!

 

 

white ash

 

Species: White Ash

Coniferous/Deciduous: Deciduous

Height at maturity (ft’): Up to 80′

Key Characteristics: Straight trunk. Blackish grey bark with ridges and deep furrows. Leaves are compound, pale green with pointed leaflets, and turn to yellow in autumn.

 

 

northern red oak

Species: Northern Red Oak

Coniferous/Deciduous: Deciduous

Height at maturity (ft’): 60-75′

Key Characteristics: Leaves are simple, alternately arranged, 4-8” long with pointed lobes. Dark green color in the summer, changing to red in autumn.

 

 

apple

Species: Apple

Coniferous/Deciduous: Deciduous

Height at maturity (ft’): 10-30′

Key Characteristics: Leaves are simple, alternate, 2-4” long with a toothed margin. Dark green leaves with white or pinkish flowers in the summer months.

 

 

 

american elm

Species: American Elm

Coniferous/Deciduous: Deciduous

Height at maturity (ft’): Up to 100′

Key Characteristics: Straight trunk, with an umbrella like crown. Deeply furrowed bark. Alternate, double toothed, light green leaves. Change to yellow in autumn. Small white flowers in the spring. Flat seeds encased in a notched wing.

 

kentucky coffee

 

Species: Kentucky Coffee

Coniferous/Deciduous: Deciduous

Height at maturity (ft’): 60-75′

Key Characteristics: Bi-pinnate compound leaves that are 2-3” long. Light green color in the summer, changing to yellow in autumn. Leathery pods that are 5-10” long that are dry and hard.

 

 

black walnut

Species: Black Walnut

Coniferous/Deciduous: Deciduous

Height at maturity (ft’): 70-80′

Key Characteristics: Pinnate, alternate, compound leaves that are 12-24 inches long consisting of 15-23 2-5” leaflets with fine teeth. Dark green color. 2” clusters that are hard, black and corrugated.

 

honeylocust

 

Species: Honey Locust

Coniferous/Deciduous: Deciduous

Height at maturity (ft’): 60-90′

Key Characteristics: Pinnate or bi-pinnate leaves that branch once or twice, bearing 8-14 leaflets. Produces large brown pods 6-8” long.

 

 

basswood

Species: American Basswood

Coniferous/Deciduous: Deciduous

Height at maturity (ft’): 60-80′

Key Characteristics: Deeply furrowed bark with large, alternate, toothed leaves

 

 

red maple

 

Species: Red Maple

Coniferous/Deciduous: Deciduous

Height at maturity (ft’): 40-60′

Key Characteristics: Features simple, green leaves 2–6″ in length with 3 or 5 lobes and sinuses that are irregularly toothed. Leaves are yellow to red in autumn.

 

 

alder

Species: Speckled Alder

Coniferous/Deciduous: Deciduous

Height at maturity (ft’): 20-30′

Key Characteristics: Trunk is smooth and thin with reddish brown bark. Leaves are simple, alternate and green with irregular teeth.

 

 

 

 

american chestnut

Species: American Chestnut

Coniferous/Deciduous: Deciduous

Height at maturity (ft’): 60-90′

Key Characteristics: Pinnate or bi-pinnate leaves that branch once or twice, bearing 8-14 leaflets. Produces large brown pods 6-8” long.

 

 

All information on this page is provided by The National Arbor Day Foundation website and Eastern Forests by John C. Kricher.

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The Next Generation of Questers in Charlestown

The best part about Valley Quest is how excited people get when they go on a Quest.

Until last week, the only Quests I had been on were with my dog. Don’t get me wrong, my dog is wonderful, but doing a Quest with kids is a totally new and great experience.

On a recent afternoon, two of my nieces and I decided to conquer the SCA Quest in Charlestown, New Hampshire.

SCA is the Student Conservation Association, which aims to connect young people to the environment and environmental stewardship through hands-on learning. The campus is beautiful and is surrounded by fields, the Connecticut River, and historical Charlestown.

The Quest itself wasn’t difficult, but being able to follow directions that are phrased as riddles correctly can certainly be a challenge. But it was a challenge we were all up for.

What was amazing was how enthusiastic my nieces were before, during, and after our Quest. My youngest niece even said, “This is better than the water park!”—and nothing says “enthusiastic” quite like that.

I had told the girls about the stamps that are located in the Valley Quest boxes that you use to stamp your Valley Quest book when you have finished the quest. I was the only one in the group with the actual Valley Quest book, and so that they would be able to keep their stamps even after the Quest, they made their own “Book of Stamps 2016.”Image-1Towards the end of the Quest, we had decidedly gotten lost. What happened was this: we got so excited to find the box that we skipped a few of the directions and got ourselves completely turned around. But because of that, we got to backtrack a little and my nieces learned a valuable lesson in working together.

We broke down every clue to try and understand exactly what each one meant. Did the “sliver of sky” mean the field? Could the archway be made from trees, people, or an actual cave?

Without giving too much about the Quest away, we eventually found our way to where the treasure was hidden—the very last clue. At this point, everyone put away the clues and decided to try and find the box themselves. But the clues are important, because we didn’t find the box until we decided to pick my phone back up and read the last clue over again (you become a beta tester on our new iPhone app by emailing Sara Cottingham).

But finding the treasure wasn’t even the super exciting part. The best part was trying to figure out how to get there in the first place. I let my nieces take charge of this Quest, leading me where they thought we should go. Their enthusiasm and determination to get there made me want to do more quests with them. Going out on a Quest with someone who is really excited to be Questing makes the experience even better than it already is.

We each signed the book located in the Valley Quest box, and both of my nieces asked if they could go on every Quest there was. It might take a while, because there are over 200 Quests throughout the Upper Valley, but I think they could do it.

Join me as I complete the Super Quest and do more quests with my favorite Questing partners. And don’t just read about my quests, take your kids, your dog, or yourself, and start Questing!

Some photos from the trail:Image-2

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Mariah Lang is a summer communications intern and Upper Valley native joining Vital Communities from Roanoke College in Salem, Virginia.

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Valley Questing in Historical Thetford

On a normal morning, I wake up after hitting snooze roughly three times, make two pieces of toast, brew a cup of coffee, and scroll drowsily through notifications on my iPhone. My thought process on most mornings is normally that I’m not ready to face the world at 8 am.

However, last week one of the notifications waiting on my phone was a reminder to begin the Super Quest. Super Quest, which is part of Valley Quest and Vital Communities, is an amazing opportunity to complete several local treasure hunts and earn points toward prizes in the process! This year’s Super Quest takes you on a self-guided journey through the Upper Valley, encouraging you to bring friends, take a hike, make public transit a part of your Quest, and even come up with your own Quest.

Even during the early morning hours, Questing still sounded like fun to me. I decided to start my Super Quest experience with Bill Hill in Thetford, Vermont. Bill Hill counts as a historical quest (2 points) because it allows visitors a sneak peak into life on a rural sheep farm in 1800s Vermont.

I imagined what the farm may have once looked like as I walked along the trail, and the old stone walls helped build the image of something quite grand. The rolling hills felt like something from a movie, and I couldn’t help but think about what Thetford must have been like in the past and wonder if it had always been this beautiful.

When I reached the top of Bill Hill, there was a stone bench, and a plaque commemorating essayist Noel Perrin’s favorite view. It was easy to see why that was a favorite view. The top of Bill Hill shows off one of the greatest little corners of Vermont, and I’m so happy that Valley Quest led me to that location.

Making my way through Upper Valley history one Quest at a time sounds like a perfect way to spend my summer. But an even better way to spend my summer will be to also incorporate learning about the local history of the civil war, architecture, or the natural world into these beautiful days. I can do all of this and more by completing the 2016 Super Quest.

The Super Quest is the perfect opportunity to stop scrolling through drowsy notifications on your phone and start getting excited about the world around you! I can’t wait to see what other exciting things happen to me while I continue my Super Quest journey.

Mariah Lang is an Upper Valley native joining Vital Communities as a summer communications intern from Roanoke College in Virginia.

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