Stowe: Before the Shutdown

Snowmelt was already dripping from the eves of the Mansfield Lodge when I swung off Vermont Route 108 and into the Stowe parking lot. It was 45 degrees and climbing, the sun parked amid scattered clouds overhead, with nearly empty trails stacked along the face of Mount Mansfield.

This was before the world was turned upside down. Before our season had ended β€” not on Superstar in shorts, but with us in our homes and communities waiting to see what would happen next.

It was Tuesday, March 3, just a couple days after a freight train of lake effect snow had blitzed the mountain with the biggest dump of the season.

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Climbing Mount Mansfield

On Friday 2 August, I set out on a long-anticipated trip to Vermont. Saturday was the App Gap Challenge, a 7.2 kilometer roller ski race heading west on Vermont Route 17, past Mad River Glen to, you guessed it, Appalachian Gap. Sunday, I planned to climb Mount Mansfield.

Notch view Mount Mansfield trail

For many years my wife and I had gone in on a February house share in Waitsfield. The group that organized it gradually drifted apart. Age, work, kids, you get the idea. Two years ago, I’d raced App Gap, but immediately following the race, I had to get our daughter to sleep away camp in Massachusetts. This would be my first opportunity to hang out in this part of the world in a long time.

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Stowe, Vt: Ignition 2014

November isΒ a dangerous time of year for productivity. If you’re like me, you’ve got a few extra tabs open in your browser at any given moment: one for NOAA, another for your blogging ski-weatherman of choice, and maybe another for a favorite mountain.

Stowe-Vt-November-2014

With rumors flurrying last week about a few inches here or a foot there and with Killington’s trusty machinery as a fallback, I knew I’d be on snow come Saturday morning. The question was where.

For the first time since I learned to ski at age five, the season snuck up on me. I’m usually watching powder edits by mid-August and scraping off summer wax in early October, just in case. Fresh out of college and living in a new town with a job, though, I had other things on my mind this year. When temperatures started to dip toward the end of last month and pictures of dusted peaks began popping up online, I almost wasn’t ready.

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