Place Writing: Little River State Park

By: Sage Coates-Farley

In Waterbury, Vermont, just off Route 2, lies one of Vermont’s many State Parks. This place is known as Little River State Park. But it’s not just any state park, it holds many memories. Picture a large lake, surrounded by campgrounds in the peak of summer. Laughing kids, the smell of campfires, and a relaxed environment. The calm Waterbury Reservoir makes nearly a perfect place for a day of leisurely kayaking as a family. I can recall many days at the parks beaches after a long paddle around the serene reservoir. I first learned how to paddle a kayak at this very place and I’m so glad I did.

In the Fall. Picture a network of interlocking trails and camping grounds. But now picture this very place full of bright red, orange, and yellow leaves on the trees. And see families enjoying the last evenings of beautiful weather around a glowing bed of coals. I’ve spent many nights with my own family doing this same thing at that very same park. The sounds of campers laughing and the crunch of branches as they move through the woods give a mysterious atmosphere. The fear paired with the thrill of being in the forest during the dead of night is unlike any feeling you can experience.

The author leading a dogsled team at Little River
But at the same time the safeness you feel puts you at ease. And those late night thoughts start to sink in. Awareness of everything going on in the world around you. None of it matters because all you feel is what is currently surrounding you: peace.

Winter. Although bitter cold an miserable for many, the park can brighten anyone’s day. In the winter, every visit to Little River is an adventure.

See this same place, though it’s not the same anymore. All the color is gone. The reservoir is frozen solid. Everything covered in a blanket of snow. The grounds are deserted. Although it paints a desolate picture to most, look closely and you will see the beauty of the emptiness. How the snow glistens in the sunlight. The ice weighing down the delicate tree branches. The eerie silence. But best of all is the whines of eighteen eager Siberian Huskies.Their howls of excitement to be attached to the sled and take off down the trail. These days are a special occasion for my dad and I to take time to ourselves and the dogs. At first the stress of handling and packing for mushing doesn’t seem worth it. Once the lines are released and the snow hook is pulled, everything is silent again. You take off down the trail. The wind in your face and the steady breathing of dogs. My first ever experience of driving a dog team were in this park. Although those memories are sometimes unpleasant, it’s a part of life and part of learning. Everything I once struggled with is so worth it when experiencing the serenity of the abandoned park behind a team of six powerful sled dogs.

And at last it’s spring. The snow is melting. The trees are blooming. Birds are chirping. There’s a sense of life once again to the quiet park. The start of a fresh new year, and a repeat of the life cycle in the campgrounds. However, it’s accompanied by a feeling of loss. The loss of the previous year and marking the official end of winter. In the spring time my visits to Little River feel like dealing with unfinished business. To take down sled dog signs and say goodbye to yet another winter. A melancholy feeling of leaving a great year behind.

But, through the ups and downs of emotions associated with my favorite place on Earth, I still can't picture a year without a visit. It holds so many of my favorite memories and the potential to create more.


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