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Skiing

Monday, March 12, 2012

Cross-Country Skiing to the Sugarhouse at Trapp Family Lodge

I used to hate March in New England, yet another month of harsh winter weather when I’m more than ready for spring. Now I’m excited when March rolls around because this is the time of the year that the Maples thaw, the sap pours, and maple syrup is made. Last March, I brought the family to Trapp Family Lodge and their fabulous network of cross-country trails in the hills above Stowe, Vermont. It was the first day of spring, but you wouldn’t know it at Stowe, with flurries falling and the conditions perfect for cross-country skiing on the groomed trails.

 
We took Sugar Road, where the tall pines and birches stand on the side of the trail like spectators at a marathon. At Picnic Knoll, we headed up the Parizo Trail, cutting our v-shaped wedges into the soft snow. Then we skied downhill on one of my favorite runs, the Old Country Road, before making a turn onto the Russel Knoll Trail and making our way to the Sugarhouse. 
 
When it comes to sugaring, the von Trapps do it the old fashion way, picking up the sap in buckets with a horse-drawn sleigh and delivering it to the sugarhouse to boil off the water and create Vermont’s “liquid gold.” The 1200 taps produce 300 gallons of syrup annually and the season lasts until late April. Every Saturday during the sugaring season, you can cross-country ski, snowshoe, or grab that horse-drawn sleigh to the sugarhouse for a traditional Sugar-on-Snow party. We tasted the freshly made maple syrup while a Trapp employee explained how the process worked. Then we went back outside to pour the hot syrup on the white snow and create a chewy maple taffy, served with donuts and dill pickles. Talk about a sugar high! 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/12/12 at 01:00 PM
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Friday, March 02, 2012

Time to Ski the East

People have been grumbling about the lack of snow all winter in the Northeast. Well, it’s time to stop moaning and start skiing. Stowe has received over 4 ½ feet of snow this week and expected another foot last night. Maine’s Sugarloaf Mountain predicted at least 10 inches of fluffy white stuff last night while New Hampshire’s Loon Mountain expected 8 inches of snow. The days are getting longer and the slopes are getting whiter. I love March skiing. Have a great weekend!
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/02/12 at 05:48 PM
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Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Stowe Earns My Respect

It was Martin Luther King Day, 2006, when I skied down an icy patch at Stowe, only to turn awkwardly and hear my ACL snap. The conditions had been horrible, raining all morning but I wanted to ski Upper Lord, one of the oldest runs on the mountain that swoops down along the ridgeline from the top of Vermont’s highest peak, Mount Mansfield. Since that time, I have been back to Stowe on several occasions with the kids but always stuck to the fairly easy trails on neighboring Spruce Peak. This past weekend, blessed with an excellent instructor, Mike Beagan, and a dusting of six inches of snow, I conquered my fears. Beagan started off on a couple easy blues like Ridge View and Sunrise, going off trail to ski through the trees. Feeling comfortable, we then did a couple jumps on the terrain park at Tyro. Then we hit Upper Lord. It was icy up top and I was feeling nervous, but I think the joy of skiing with my son, Jake, an excellent skier, and under the steady guidance of Beagan, who’s been teaching at Stowe for 15 years, I carved those turns and felt comfortable. Comfortable enough to take the gondola up to the top and ski Perry Merrill, one of my all time favorite New England trails, twice. That afternoon, I earned my apres-ski pint of Switchback ale at the Stowe Mountain Lodge. I had finally overcome my anxiety and relished the fact that I could ski this classic mountain once again. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/07/12 at 06:01 PM
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Friday, February 03, 2012

Enjoying Winter, Whatever Weather Comes My Way

Ole Punxsutawney Phil crawled out of his Gobbler’s Knob hole and delivered his annual Groundhog Day weather forecast yesterday. He saw his shadow and thus we’ll have six more weeks of winter. With skunk cabbages and dandelions already sprouting in Boston during 60-degree days this week, I’m wondering what type of winter is that groundhog talking about. Certainly not the winter weather the Farmers’ Almanac predicted back in August, “a season of unusually cold and stormy weather.” I happen to like the occasional snowfall in winter, the reason why I live in New England. Still the warm climes won’t deter me from skiing at Stowe this weekend, which received over 15 inches of snow this past week. Have a great weekend, and whether you hike, walk, ski, snowshoe or jog, get outdoors and keep active!

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/03/12 at 02:00 PM
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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Ski Suicide Six for $7.50

 

Peer up at Suicide Six and all you see is a wide trail falling sharply down the peak. When Bunny Bertram was looking for a place to put his ski area in 1936, he reportedly looked down this same hillside, then called Number 6, and said attempting to ski this is suicide.  The name stuck. These days, any decent skier can attempt that same steep slope. Indeed, the mountain and its 23 trails, found on the outskirts of Woodstock, Vermont, are ideally suited for the novice and intermediate skier. To celebrate their 75th anniversary, Suicide Six is offering lift tickets for $7.50 on Mondays. So if you’re planning to spend the weekend at Killington, 20 minutes down the road, spend an extra day in the area and ski Suicide Six.

 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/25/12 at 02:00 PM
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Monday, January 23, 2012

This is the Week to Go Skiing in America

As I was leaving the office on Friday, I received a flurry of press releases from ski areas across the country. Utah’s Snowbird had just received 30 inches of snow and another storm was on its way today and tomorrow. Just down the road, Park City was getting dumped on pretty heavily. Here in New England, where my yard was green until Saturday, Vermont and New Hampshire ski areas both received up to a foot of snow this past weekend. Also on Saturday, I received word that the Lake Tahoe region would receive up to three feet of snow, snowing more than an inch an hour. So if you were looking forward to calling in sick and hitting the slopes, this would be the week. Check out Liftopia to get discounted lift tickets. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/23/12 at 02:00 PM
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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Maine Huts & Trails Completes First Phase of 180-Mile 12-Hut Corridor

This morning, Maine Huts & Trails will be holding a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate their latest addition, a new 14.2-mile section of the trail that connects Grand Falls Hut to the Forks. This completes the first phase of the Maine Huts & Trails effort to create a 180-mile, 12-hut recreation corridor.  They now offer 45 miles of groomed trails and 3 backcountry lodges located between Rte. 27/16 in Carrabassett Valley and Route 201 in West Forks. If you haven’t yet checked out this gem in the Maine wilderness, put it on your schedule for 2012. You’ll thank me.

 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 12/22/11 at 02:00 PM
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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Cross-Country Skiing Quebec’s Le P’tit Train du Nord

Home to 14 downhill ski areas, including the renowned Tremblant, the Laurentian Mountains is Quebec’s foremost winter playground. Once the white stuff starts to fall (an almost daily occurrence in these parts), a lineup of SUVs and minivans make the hour drive north of Montreal. Yet, from 1920 to 1940, the favorite mode of travel in the Laurentians was aboard “Le P’tit Train du Nord,” the snow train. Connecting Saint-Jérôme in the south to Mont-Laurier in the north, the 218 kilometer railway helped spur on tourism at villages along the route. 

The last train stormed through the region in 1989.  Nine years later, Le P’tit Train du Nord reemerged as a rail trail. The so-called Linear Park is now a beloved biking locale in summer and an excellent cross-country skiing destination in the cold weather months.  From Saint- Jérôme to Val-David, a 42 kilometer section of the trail is groomed daily in winter, creating the perfect three-day, two-night inn-to-inn skiing adventure. No snowmobiling is allowed, so you’re guaranteed a peaceful glide through towering forests of pine, snowcapped peaks looming overhead, stepping off for a meal or bed in one of the French-Canadian towns.

The first day, a 14 kilometer run from Saint- Jérôme to Prévost, is relatively flat, requiring little snow to get cruising. Most of the time will be spent in the National Park, Parc Régional de la Rivière-du-Nord. Day Two is an 11 kilometer ski from Prévost to Sainte-Adèle, home to the Mont Rolland Train Station, one of the many restored stations along the route that now serves as tourism office and café. The final day is a slight uphill climb to either Val-Morin (12 km) or Val-David (17 km), depending on how limber those legs are. If you’re still aching for more, simply head to any of the hills you see from Val-David. The Laurentians features 1000-plus kilometers of Nordic skiing. 

From Montreal, take Route 15 to Exit 43 and follow Rue de Martigny to the east. Turn south on Labelle Boulevard to Rue Parent, where you’ll find the old train station and parking lot in Saint- Jérôme. Motel de la Rivière in Prévost, Auberge de la Gare B&B in Sainte- Adèle, and Le Chalet Beaumont in Val-David are all good lodging choices. Visit Tourism Laurentides for a map and listing of lodgings, restaurants, ski shuttles, and rentals. 

Have a Happy Thanksgiving! I’ll be back next Monday.


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/23/11 at 02:00 PM
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Monday, November 14, 2011

Boston Ski Deals

I headed to the Boston Ski Show this past weekend and found some decent deals. If you book by 11/23/11, you can get round-trip tickets on American Airlines from Boston to Steamboat, Colorado for $300 round trip. You can also save an additional 20% on lifts and lodging. Steamboat has one of the premier teen programs in the States. “Rough Rider” clinics are offered daily for kids 13-18. Afterwards, teens can mingle among themselves in Night Owls, partaking in such activities as tubing and indoor climbing. Or drag the entire family over to Steamboat Springs for a look at an authentic Wild West town. Closer to home, Omni Mount Washington Hotel and neighboring Bretton Woods Ski Area are offering a Stay Here, Ski Free package. Simply book a room and you receive free lift tickets. Book by December 15th and mention the promo code “BOSSKI.” 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/14/11 at 02:00 PM
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Monday, October 31, 2011

Ski and Surf Jay Peak

A powerful nor’easter that swept up the East Coast this weekend dumped snow in Boston and the New England peaks. In fact, a few ski resorts like Sunday River and Killington opened early to get the first taste of winter weather. In northern Vermont, Jay Peak received 7 inches of snow. That’s no surprise. Bordering Quebec, Jay Peak receives more than 370 inches of powder, more snow than any other ski area in the East. Being this far north, Jay also accommodates far more Quebecois than New Yorkers. This might change now that the resort has poured more than $200 million into renovations in the past two years as it tries to rival Stowe as the premiere ski resort in northern New England. The Tram Haus Lodge, a 57-suite ski in/ski out lodge, made its debut last winter, along with a new nordic center, and ice skating arena. Set to debut this December is The Pumphouse, an indoor waterpark in the new Hotel Jay that will include a fully retractable open air roof and the longest indoor lazy river in America.  The park also features a 50-seat bar overlooking the rides, a slide that drops its passenger into a free-fall, and the Double Barrel Flowrider—a standing-wave ride that will allow visitors to “surf” in Vermont.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 10/31/11 at 01:00 PM
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Longtime Boston Globe travel writer, Steve Jermanok, dishes out his favorite travel locales and provides topical travel information that comes across his desk.

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