Fall Guided Quest in Wilder, VT

Join Vital Communities’ Valley Quest Coordinator Sandy Gmur along with Roy Black, lifelong resident of Wilder and a member of the Hartford Historical Society, on a guided exploration of the historic village of Wilder.

Did you know Wilder used to be called Olcott Falls? On the Olcott Falls Quest you will learn about many of the old buildings from the 1890s and early 1900s that were built to house people who worked at the paper mill that used to exist on the Connecticut River here. Roy has many stories to share about the vibrant life of this old mill town. For some photos of the river, dams and the mill see this from the Northern New England Chapter Society for Industrial Archeology.

This Quest is appropriate for families and adults, all are welcome and just good walking shoes are needed. Might be a great addition to home learning!

Date: Friday, October 23, Rain or Shine
Time: 1 – 3 pm
Location: To get there: The Quest begins at the parking lot of Datamann in Wilder. Datamann is at 1994 Hartford Avenue (Route 5). From the south: head north for 1.8 miles on Route 5 from the traffic light at the intersection of Routes 5 and 14 in White River Junction. The parking lot is on the left before the left turn at the church. From the north: head south for 3 miles on Route 5 from the traffic light at the intersection of Routes 5 and 10A near I-91 in Norwich. The parking lot is on the right about a block after bearing right where Gillette Street T’s into Route 5 in Wilder.

This is a free event. Register through Hartford Parks and Recreation here.

Quests Along the Cross Rivendell Trail

Do you hope to do a longer hike before the good weather ends?  Do you enjoy a challenge?  We have a way for you to attain these goals!  Two of our Quests incorporate sections of the Cross Rivendell Trail (CRT), a 36-mile trek connecting four towns of the Rivendell Interstate School District in Vermont and New Hampshire.  Eagle’s Bluff Quest, new this year, takes you to a beautiful view of Lake Morey in Fairlee, VT, along the CRT. Southworth Park Quest, with a lovely picnic area in West Fairlee, VT, was created by students of the Samuel Morey Elementary School.

For added fun these Quests can move you towards completing the Quest to Refresh Challenge we have going till November 1 which enters you in a prize drawing in December and earns you a beautiful Valley Quest Patch.  You can join the CRT COVID-19 Hike Challenge as well.  How is that for meeting your hiking challenge goals?  See you on the trails!

Quest to Refresh Challenge!

Do you need to press the reset/refresh button?  Have you spent too much time behind a screen these days? We have a solution! Take our challenge – Quest to Refresh! Complete five or more Quests by November 1 and receive a unique Quest to Refresh patch plus an entry into our grand prize drawing at the end of the year.

There are over 160 Quests to choose from. You can search for them on our website by location, features, difficulty, and terrain. Print out the clues or download them on your phone. Pack a picnic, grab your binoculars and maybe a swimsuit, and off you go! Have fun learning about local culture and natural history and reconnecting to this amazing place we call the Upper Valley!  

The first step is to register your team here.

And once you reach the end of each Quest? Sign the log book and put a stamp in your Quest record. If you are uncomfortable with handling the treasure boxes at this time, you could instead, take a photo of the box in its location (and of the view!), perhaps including yourself and any companions. Post photos on social media – we would love to see them! And add these tags: @vitalcommunities, #valleyquest, #uppervalley.  (Note: Not all of the boxes made it out this year.) 

The last step is to record your five Quests by filling out this form and submitting it to us so we can send you your patch(es) and enter you in our drawing. You can also print this Record Sheet to keep track of which Quests you have done. 

Enjoy your time Questing and taking on the Quest to Refresh Challenge.  See you on the trail (from a socially safe distance)!

Family Project: Write a Quest for your House!

Over these past few weeks I have experienced waves of anxiety and sadness, and at the same time such gratitude. I can’t imagine going through this crisis in any other part of the world. The Upper Valley is an amazing place filled with amazing people and places. I have the ability to walk out my door and witness first-hand the coming of spring as the buds emerge and the mud slowly dries. We invite you to take this coming week as a chance to celebrate the Upper Valley and our bonds to it. As part of this celebration consider discovering a local Quest or creating a Quest on your own.

We may not be able to leave our property much and we may not be able to visit our favorite Quest, yet we can find our own special places on our property or in our neighborhoods. This past week my kids and I decided to create a Quest of all the places that are special to our family on our property. It took us a couple of hours and once we were done we sent my husband out to follow our newly formed Quest clues.

Developing the Quest was fairly easy. First, we each made a list of  our favorite spots on the property. We decided where the Quest would start and walked to each of our favorite spots, figuring out the best sequence to follow. Once we had the sequence, we headed back inside to write our clues. The clues made us practice lots of rhyming as well as decide if we wanted to teach a few things along the way. We also created a map with illustrations and directional arrows. Once it was pulled together, we sent my husband out to test it. The kids loved watching their dad read their Quest and discover their special places on our property. They are also excited for their cousins to try the Quest (when they are able to visit again).

Try this out with your own family. Even if you don’t have a few acres you can do the same thing around a neighborhood, or inside your apartment. We all have a spot or two that we find special and everyone loves a treasure hunt. Send along a picture of your maps, clues, or Questing, or tag @vitalcommunities. We would love to see how you are celebrating your special places.

Steps:

  1. List your special spots.
  2. Walk the route you would like to take.
  3. Write your rhyming clues. Try to add some teaching points along with directional clues.
  4. Draw a map of the area.
  5. Test out the Quest.
  6. Save your Quest to share with others who visit once social distancing is relaxed.

Also check out our website for step-by-step videos on how to create a Quest.

Collier Quest April 2020

Start your adventure on a seat that swings.
Don’t wait too long and head to a place that could sting.

Head out to the deck.
Hang a compass around your neck.

South you will head as you leave the house.
Cross a field that certainly has a mouse.

Stop at the place honey is made.
In the hive you could find workers and drones that she laid

With the bees at your back
Compass you should not lack.

Go 60 east till you come to a tree with trunks of six
This white pine has lots of sticks.

Go down the hill to the fourth apple in the row.
How many apples do you think it will grow?

Move 28 steps to walk on water.
Check in the pond. Do you see an otter?

With your back to the dock walk north to the water that runs.
Your kids visit here and come home with wet buns.

Move upstream till the house is near.
You are almost done. Do not shed a tear.

Stop at the newly fallen tree.
Up the hill to the compost you see.

Go up hill to the place where veggies are grown.
You are almost there, don’t start to moan.

Look for your treasure where the hose hangs.
End your quest with the Collier gang!

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Questing During Stay at Home Orders

Getting outdoors is good for your mental, physical, and spiritual health, especially during this time of added stress due to COVID-19. We are closely following our state government recommendations in Vermont and New Hampshire regarding outdoor activities. The good news is that you can go outside, and very likely, a nearby Valley Quest can take you on a fun learning adventure!  

When you head out on your Quest, make sure you keep appropriate physical distance from others while following the clues.  If you are uncomfortable with handling the treasure boxes at this time, you could instead, take a photo of the box in its location (and of the view!), perhaps including yourself and any companions. Post photos on social media – we would love to see them! And add these tags: @vitalcommunities, #valleyquest, #uppervalley.  (NOTE: not all of the boxes made it out this year).

To make this even more fun we have a Quest to Refresh Challenge for you!  Do 5 or more Quests by Nov. 1st to receive a special patch and be entered into a grand prize drawing in December.

Another idea is to make a Quest with your family or neighbors.  Pick sites around your property or neighborhood, and write clues that lead from one to the other. Perhaps a neighbor knows some interesting history about your neighborhood that you can incorporate into the clues.  Instead of a treasure box you could suggest folks take photos or make drawings along the way to share that they have completed the Quest. Here is a link to instructions for making a Quest.  

So get creative, go exploring, and keep safe while observing all the health and safety precautions our states are advising. For more resources on how to safely recreate outside during this time visit Upper Valley Trail Alliance and the National Recreation and Park Association.

A New Quest to Celebrate the Mascoma River Greenway!

Have you been on the Mascoma River Greenway yet? If not, it is time to check it out. I had a fantastic time follwing the new Quest of the Mascoma River Greenway. I took my bike and had a lovely time pedaling the Greenway. I learned about local history as well as enjoying views of the Mascoma River. The Greenway is not just a great place for a little exercise. You could use it to commute from the center of Lebanon to businesses along 12A. Next time you have an errand to run, try jumping on your bike instead of in the car!

I want to thank Frank Gould who created this Quest. He is a longtime volunteer with the Mascoma River Greenway and created a Quest that is engaging and certain to bring more people out to the Mascoma River Greenway. Thank you Frank!

 

A New Quest in Pomfret, Vermont

Earlier this summer I had the fortune of working with the amazing staff of the Artistree Community Arts Center in Pomfret, Vermont on offering a Questing Camp. Over the week the campers learned about the different historical aspects of the buildings that make up the Center’s campus as well as several buildings in the center of Pomfret. The campers designed maps, learned to carve stamps and, designed the route and fantastic clues that will lead you around the beautiful property of Artistree. Checkout the latest Quest to hit the Upper Valley and discover a new favorite spot.

New Brownsville VT Quest

I’m happy to announce that we have a new Quest! With the help of Mr. Butler’s 3rd & 4th grade class at the Albert Bridge School, there is a new Quest in Brownsville, VT. The Daniel Cady Quest takes you from the Albert Bridge School up to Daniel Cady’s mausoleum. Cady was a poet who dedicated many of his works to describe life in Vermont. When he died in 1934, he had already made arrangements for his casket to rest in the mausoleum at the top of the hill. Originally, the mausoleum would have looked out at the top of Ascutney, but many trees grew in and the view isn’t as clear.

“Cady tree”

The Albert Bridge students learned about the life of Daniel Cady with the help of the Brownsville Historical Society and then completed their teaching clues. We took the kids up to the mausoleum and then helped them create their movement clues. After putting the two parts together, we went back to the school to test their new Quest!

When we got to the mausoleum, we stumbled upon a filmmaker with Vermont novelist, Joseph Citro. Specifically, Citro works with ghost stories in New England — how fitting to find him by the mausoleum!

Looking into the mausoleum

This was quite lucky for us, as he had the key to open the mausoleum. He was able to take the lock off of the main wooden door. There were still bars that prevented us from entering, but we were able to look inside the mausoleum and see his casket. This was an amazing addition to what we thought would be a relatively straight forward Quest check. We hid the box for Questers to find and headed back down.

This new Brownsville Quest is live! Be sure to give it a try. If you’re in Brownsville, check out The Quest for the Kestrel, a Quest on the Super Quest list in the area. If you haven’t signed up for the Super Quest you can find out more information and register your team here

Interested in adopting this box and becoming a box monitor? Check out this page for more information on volunteering for this box or any other boxes without monitors!

Additional thanks go out to Alice Stewart and Rise VT for their generous support of this project!

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!

 

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
  10. Sunapee Harbor Quest, Sunapee, New Hampshire

Happy Questing!

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