Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Ski the East

As a snowboarder, one of the temptations of coming to St. Mike's was the $65 season-long ski pass to one of the local mountains, Smuggler's Notch. Just to reinforce what a fabulous deal that is, I looked up a regular adult pass to the resort: $529. We get to ski all winter long for a price less than that of a day pass. Not only that, though; we also get access to the hot tubs at the resort. I mean c'mon...what more could a college kid want?

Last Saturday I got my first taste of skiing out East. My snowboard has seen the likes of Midwestern mountains such as Lutsen, Bridger Bowl, Big Sky, and Moonlight Basin, but never before had it crossed into the Eastern Time Zone. I was curious and excited to compare conditions, elevations, glades. So I woke up early on a Saturday--and that's probably close to the equivalent of running a marathon, for those of you who have never lived on a college campus--and pulled on my Smartwools, lugged my snowboard through the dorm hallway, and went to wake up my friends on Joyce 4th. Saint Mike's runs a shuttle to Smuggs and back on the weekends, but if you have friends with cars it opens up the option for a morning coffee McD's run, so mooching rides is the better choice. Also, racing Subarus through the mountains is truly a unique Vermont experience that needs to be had. 
Smuggs was a great time. The lift lines were a little longer than my allotted patience for the day, but the sun and new snow was probably to blame for that. I was pleasantly surprised by my first snowboarding experience out here. I had heard many times that Skiing the East means Skiing the Ice, but it wasn't so icy that it became a nuisance. It's a lot different than skiing Montana because you're not plowing through loads of powder, and there are less tree runs. But people go a lot faster and the terrain parks are more established and used. It's also great because you can ski right to the parking lot, right up to your car. 

This weekend I got another opportunity to experience Vermont skiing, and loved it even more. I went on a Catholic ski retreat with a big group of UVM, Champlain, and Norwich kids. We gathered at UVM on Friday afternoon, filled a pickup truck with piles of skis, boards, poles, and duffels, then drove a couple hours out to the North East Kingdom of Vermont, which is the corner of the state nearby New Hampshire. We stayed in the Wildflower Inn, an incredibly picturesque group of cabins set in a valley with great sunsets and towering trees.
 Saturday and Sunday, after fueling up with delicious omelets and Belgian Waffles (also, I learned a new Vermont trick--maple syrup in coffee) we spent at Burke Mountain, which was only a five minute drive from the Inn. Burke was amazing. We had sun, fresh snow, almost no lift lines, and the best company. The lodge was a huge, comfortable old log building with couches and huge windows and heaters to thaw out our toes during the PBJ break. 
The evenings we spent playing games in the cozy Inn (the hat game--a crazy version of Charades), telling stories, and just getting a relaxing much-needed break from the crazy hustle and bustle of college life. We went to mass together at the chapel in Lyndonville and afterwards got some time to ourselves to reflect. I met a lot of new friends and had an amazing time skiing Burke... didn't want to come back! Of course, you can't drive past Montpelier without stopping for maple creemees at Bragg Farm, so the grand finale of our trip was 20 college kids crowding around a woodstove in a cute little Vermont country store, licking maple creemees and laughing at the memories of the weekend. One of the best weekends yet!

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