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.

Middlebury Snow Bowl

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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Trapp Family Lodge: Return to the Hills

The day after the Craftsbury Marathon, I drove to Trapp Family Lodge for a recovery ski. I hadn’t been there in 15 years.

Yes, that Trapp Family. The hills are alive, sweet vocal harmonies, cavorting in alpine meadows, and all that. After fleeing Austria, the von Trapp Family settled in Stowe, VT, buying a substantial piece of land and opening their first guest house in 1950.

Trapp Family Lodge

In 1968, the Trapp Family Lodge opened a cross-country ski center. According to their website, it was “the first of its kind in North America.” Mohonk Mountain House began offering ski tours to their guests in the 1930s, but they didn’t — and still don’t, to my knowledge — have a lodge for day guests.

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