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 — 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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A Vermont Backcountry Intro

Working at my desk, I catch my mind drifting off to fluffy, marshmallow-laden landscapes. Often it’s Plattekill I envision, the closest good powder skiing for us in northern NJ. For me, nothing closer comes close.

But over the last couple years, like others here, I’m driving further to find snow. In early February, winter storm “Kade” brought me to Smuggs. My most recent excursion was deep into northern VT, touring the backcountry near Jay Peak, for the first time.

Last week was winter break for schools in NJ. I’m a teacher and this was my best window for adventure. The last few years featured great trips to British Columbia with good snow and a tight crew.

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Middlebury Snow Bowl: The Road Not Taken

As you travel up VT Route 125, which connects Rt. 7 and Rt. 100, you see Frost everywhere. From the Robert Frost Interpretive Trail in the National Forest, to the Bread Loaf Campus of Middlebury College, where he taught for over 40 years, Frost is present at every turn.

I traveled to this secluded place as a refuge from the holiday crowds. As I bounced between Sirius Channels 23 and 29, I glided past the frosted peaks of the National Forest. A simple sign and drive way leads to the base of the mountain.

Opened in 1934, the Middlebury Snow Bowl is one of the oldest continuously operating mountains in the country. Many would say it’s a place time left behind, but in reality it’s more a place time simply left alone.

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