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Leave Nice Tracks: A Vermont Backcountry Film

Across the country, skiers and riders have been banding together, creating backcountry alliances that promote and protect their surrounding mountain ranges. And in Backcountry Magazine’s own backyard, the same phenomenon is occurring thanks to the Vermont Backcountry Alliance and localized groups like Rochester Area Sports Trail Alliance (RASTA). While backcountry enthusiasts work in congruence with the state to create trails and proper trail maintenance mandates, a few New Yorkers began to take note: splitboarders Kyle Crichton, Dan Cirenza and Marius Becker started making weekend pilgrimages to the Green Mountains, and after meeting up with some RASTA members, they decided to begin production on Leave Nice Tracks, a film documenting this Vermont backcountry skiing community.

We caught up with Cirenza and Crichton to hear more about their project.

Leave Nice Tracks Teaser from Kyle Crichton on Vimeo.

Backcountry Magazine: What inspired this project?

Kyle Crichton: Dan and I have been friends on and off since high school, and we actually hadn’t seen each other in like ten years, right?

Dan Cirenza: Yea, like ten years, and [Kyle] shot me a message and said “Hey, do you want to make a snowboard movie?” I had just moved back from Lake Tahoe and was looking for any chance to keep snowboarding as much as possible, so I was like, “Yea, let’s do that. Would you want to learn how to do splitboard and explore what’s happening in Vermont?” Because I figured there’s gotta be some backcountry riding [up there].

KC: So this year was actually my first year getting on a splitboard.

BCM: How did you get to know the Catamount Trail Association and the Vermont Backcountry Alliance?

DC: There’s a lot of Facebook groups, like Backcountry Touring in the Northeast, and I put some feelers out, like, “Anyone want to go skinning this winter?” And Greg Maino from the CTA [responded], “We are hosting glading projects with this group called RASTA, you should check it out.”

Then this winter, just through them [The CTA and RASTA], we’ve met many people who say, “Oh, you should come see my backyard, come check this out.” And [so we traveled] across the state, sleeping in people’s yards out of our tents or in state parks, and then [went] skinning [in these different areas].

KC: We originally had the idea to follow ourselves [on film], and we quickly realized no one’s going to want to watch that. No one’s going to watch these two guys who live outside of New York City venture up to the Green Mountains every weekend—it wasn’t feasible. I work in TV and film already, so we have some experience, and Dan used to work for ESPN for a short period.

So our first trip up there, we did some glading work with the RASTA guys, and on the way back [to New York], we’re like, this is the story—these guys are what we should be following. We had seen that they had already been written about in Backcountry Magazine and briefly on TGR about their fundraising for Braintree Mountain Forest. So then we heard that Tyler Wilkinson-Ray had done a short last year, so we were like, “We gotta make a full film out of this, even if it takes us thirty years.” So we’re just doing it on our own time.

BCM: What’s the message of the film?

DC: It’s about the overall community, this group of guys [who glade and ski]. I pretty much describe them as a group of dads that want to ski yard to yard. They started by building trails for themselves and it turned into this full-blown community. Now there are other groups in Vermont popping up—like the Northeast Kingdom Coalition—and they’re trying to get into ski glading as well. So I think next year we’re going to spend a lot of time actually up with them as well.

The overall [message] is statewide—what’s going on with the entire state in terms of backcountry skiing.

BCM: What have you guys found out about the Vermont backcountry community that will be represented in the film?

DC: This past season there wasn’t very much snow and we weren’t getting any pow shots, so we did a lot of interviews with different [backcountry] groups, especially Amy Kelsey of the CTA, and [also with] the US Forest Service that’s helping them [the CTA] out. [We asked] What they are hoping to achieve from an economics standpoint. Are people going to come ski these areas of Vermont and buy a six pack at the gas station?

So [the film] has a bigger social reach than the skiing itself; it’s about the communities as well. A lot of them are pretty impoverished and aren’t making as much maple syrup as they’d like to, so they’re hoping someone comes into town, goes to these small stops, hits up the Air B&Bs in these neighborhoods and gets to ski some nice lines.

KC: One of the RASTA guys mentioned that you go to a gas station that also has a bunch of craft beer, you buy a couple of six packs, and you just basically made their weekend. And [Vermont communities] want more of that; they want people to respect the land that they worked on, but they want economic growth, and this is one way they know how to do it.

To find out more about Leave Nice Tracks, visit leavenicetracks.com.

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Comments

  1. hariison says:

    This past season there wasn’t very much snow and we weren’t getting any pow shots, so we did a lot of interviews with different [backcountry] groups, especially Amy Kelsey of the CTA, and [also with] the US Forest Service that’s helping them [the CTA] out. [We asked] What they are hoping to achieve from an economics standpoint. Are people going to come ski these areas of Vermont and buy a six pack at the gas station?

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