Big Adventure at Stowe
February 6, 2009
Mt. Mansfield - It's a big mountain
Feb. 4. My Bro-in-law had joined me for 4 days of northern VT skiing. On Tues. we did Mad River Glen and found great but firm chalk like snow. No ice (unless you looked hard for it. On Tues. evening we learned that Stowe would have $35 lift tickets on Wed.
The morning runs were nothing special, more of the firm chalky stuff of MRG with some ice. A spell of cold snowless days will do that, especially with man made snow and high skier density. Our tickets said "Woodchuck Wednesday" so in keeping with that theme we decided to do Some Woods after lunch. We've both done woods in that area numerous times in the past. It was supposed to have 3 short pieces each piece ending on another trail. We thought we knew the way. We didn't. We thought you couldn't get lost. We did. We departed an area trail high up and I suspect we left it on a zig when it should have been on a zag.
For about 300 or so vertical feet it was a dense low conifer forest; impossible to make turns, a nasty tight bushwack. Oh well, live & learn. We were sure we would soon exit onto a Stowe trail. That this didn't happen soon enough didn't really concern us. Then a strange thing happened. Ever so slowly, the tightness of those woods began to abate. The sidestep, wiggle, sideslip, one turn then stop rhythm began to change. We began to link turns; 2, 3, 5, 10 , as many as you wanted. The conifers faded to widely spaced hardwoods with small saplings. The powder was perfect. It was fantastic, and there were no tracks except ours. Soon we'd be on in the ski area again with Cheshire grins on our faces. But it didn't happen. We went down and down and down linking dozens of silky turns amid the trees. The kind of run you dream about. We finally found what was likely a hiking trail, blazed in red, and faintly discernible as a corridor through the trees. There were small stream crossings which worried us but the snow bridges never broke through. Finally we exited onto a groomed cross country trail. We had skied about 2000 vertical feet of perfect powder in a perfect glade. We guessed our location as part of the Stowe cross country touring center system - but where? Our worries faded as there was still 1.5 hrs. of daylight left and you can follow a groomed trail in the dark anyway. A couple of friendly XC skiers kept us pointed in the same direction as our instincts first suggested. But the slightest uphills were killing us; we were exhausted. A touring center employee took pity on us and towed us up the last hill before the touring center lodge with his groomer. Shortly after 4 we got a ride back to the Mansfield base on the town shuttle bus. We had traveled perhaps 4 miles since leaving the trail, the last 2 on the cross country trails. We got in my car. Its thermometer registered 4 deg., headed for well below zero on Wed. night.
It was one of my most memorable ski experiences ever, the highlight by far of this season (thus far).
Great story Denis! I was not sure where you were going to tell us you wound up.
Thanks for the tips on the powder skiing. I wound up up to my knees the first time I tried it and the skis just kept right on moving...to my great surprise!
Thanks for your great report and pictures. Glad that Stowe delivered for you.