Anthony – Opening Weekend at Smuggler’s Notch
It’s that time of year again when those in Vermont begin to wonder where all of the snow is. I can’t speak on how long this yearly plea has been occurring, but I remember it happening last year quite clearly. “I remember Thanksgivings where the first major storm would blow through, and we wouldn’t see the ground again until the end of March,” Vermonters say, scowls on their faces. Because this year has begun the same as last, we all silently wonder whether it is some coincidental cycle or permanent due to climate change.
Either way, the mountains were prepared this time. Every ski mountain within a 120 mile radius of us purchased more snow making guns this year and all were open by Thanksgiving. We made it to our snowboarding spot, Smuggler’s Notch, opening weekend. Never underestimate the fun of fall and spring snowboarding with only a couple sweatshirts to guard you from the winter sun. So, while Vermont wonders when the snow will begin to permanently cover the Green Mountains, we continue to pretend it already has at the ski resorts.
Always consider Smuggler’s Notch when deciding on a ski spot in Vermont. It is located on the opposite side of Mt. Mansfield to Stowe. It is smaller than Stowe but has more back country terrain, less lines, and more of a community atmosphere. It also has some of the toughest terrain while also being amazingly family friendly. Plus, you can’t beat the local feel of it compared to the touristy likes of Stowe and Killington.
Smuggler’s Notch – Opening Weekend, Thanksgiving Weekend 2012
I climbed Vermont’s highest peak on Saturday. Yes, I cheated by taking the “toll road” most of the way up, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see what all of the fuss was over this four mile road which leads you to Mt. Mansfield’s “nose”. The road is located at Stowe Mountain Resort which owns most of the Stowe side of the mountain. It costs $27; yes, $27. It seems like a steep price, but the road is also quite steep so, unless you want to put in upwards of eight hours (roundtrip) hiking, it ends up being worth it. Besides, how else are you going to get a “This car climbed Mt. Mansfield” sticker?’
The toll road is actually quite historic. It was constructed in 1856 and used by horse and carriage to get to the Summit Hotel, which was then just below the mountain’s nose. Surprisingly, only ¼ mile of the road is paved, which gives visitors a chance to experience true Vermont dirt roads for the other 3.75 miles. I can’t imagine riding a horse and carriage up this road. It took me about 20 minutes of constant gear changing and pothole dodging to get to the top, where the visitor center is located. Behind me, Pup tried to get as much of her body out of the window, while to my right, Anth judged my driving skills just about the whole way. Needless to say, I was feeling ready to hit the hiking trail by the time we pulled up to the top.
The hike was a little difficult for Pup due to some of the gaps between rocks. Overall, though, the mile and a half hike wasn’t too strenuous and gives you amazing views from beginning to end. During the entire hike, you are surrounded by actual alpine tundra that survived the Ice Age. Only two other spots in Vermont can claim that. Much of this hike runs along the Long Trail and by the time you reach the summit, you are 4,395 feet up. What do you do once you finally make it to the top? Well, the majority of Quebecois, broke out cheese, bread, and assorted dried meats. We gave the dog water and took in the views.