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Last week was rather fun for winter weather enthusiasts in Northern Vermont. We had a good dose of snow in the mountains, and even some wintry precipitation in the valleys to get everyone in the mood for winter. We had several hours of light snow at the house in Waterbury (elevation 495’) on Wednesday evening, although there was no accumulation. It was hard to get a sense for the week’s high-elevation snowfall numbers without the ski areas reporting the more typical 6 or 12-hour snowfall measurements, but the 24-hour readings of accumulation at the Mt. Mansfield stake totaled up to 8.5 inches of snowfall. All told it sounds like there was about a foot of snow for the highest elevations in the Monday through Thursday timeframe. There were several nice trip reports from folks that got out and enjoyed the snow, but a busy week at work kept me off the slopes until the weekend.
On Friday night/Saturday morning, we hit our lowest temperature of the season so far at our house as the thermometer bottomed out at 21.6 F. Even though we didn’t have any snow accumulation at the house, it certainly felt like it was time to ski, so we took our skis up to Bolton with us on Saturday when we picked up our season passes. The first snow we encountered along the side of the road on our drive up to the village was just above the base of Timberline in the 1,600’-1,700’ elevation range. Up in the village there was about an inch of snow on the ground, but it was inconsistent and had disappeared in many of the sunny areas. Looking upward toward Bolton’s slopes, the snow cover became more consistent, but it still didn’t appear to build up too quickly in the elevations I could see. There were no signs of any man-made snow on the slopes, and I didn’t hear any guns running. E and I decided that there wasn’t enough snow to get us motivated to put our skis on, but there were plenty of grassy slopes holding snow in the village that would let the boys get in a little slide time akin to what Ty had done down at the house in October of 2006.
Bolton Valley also had their job fair going on, so there was a bit of activity on the lodge, but it still meant just a handful of people at a time. We had our pictures taken, picked up our passes, and then the boys did a bit of sliding on the snowy grass. Dylan has now moved up to the skis that Ty has used the past couple of seasons (76 cm K2s), and had his first real opportunity to slide on a slope under his own power (i.e. without Mom or Dad holding him). He seemed to take to it fine, much like Ty did at that stage, and we just let him sail down the gentle slopes keeping his skis parallel. He’d either come to a stop when the slope mellowed out, or be caught by one of us in the steeper spots where he would have continued off the grassy base. He seemed to have fun and was very excited that he was able to stand alone while the skis moved. Similar to Ty at that stage, he seemed to generally lean back, and sometimes he’d simply fall backwards or to the side during his trips down the slope. He’d also use the crashing mode of stopping if he felt that he was going to fast. Ty has moved up to a new pair of 90 cm Dynamic skis this year that we picked up at one of the ski swaps this fall, but I don’t think he had quite as much fun as Dylan in the first round of sliding. He seemed a little intimidated by the freshly-waxed, longer skis, and the slopes we were on were either a bit to shallow or too short and steep to let him really get into a groove.
After a while, we took a break from the sliding, headed into the lodge, and ate the lunch we’d packed in the dining area. We got to watch as a few other families pick up their passes in preparation for the season. After lunch the boys were keen to do a bit more sliding, so we hit the grassy slopes again. Ty got a bit more comfortable on the new skis at that point, even if he still wasn’t able to really let them run. Dylan was finished after several more runs, but Ty was getting a second wind and we really had to pull him away from the slopes. Even when he was done skiing, he still wanted to just walk around in the snow in his boots. We asked about Bolton’s opening day when we got our passes, and the associate said that they are shooting for December 8th. She said they’ve decided to skip the Thanksgiving period since it was so tough last year with the warm November – I’m sure they had to spend a bunch of money on snowmaking to keep going back then. So far, this November has been much more typical (I think maybe even a bit below average) in terms of temperatures, but it seems they want to play it safe. I’d just as soon wait for natural snow skiing anyway, so with the boys we’ll see what Mother Nature brings for easy earned turns, or maybe take advantage of some of the free bunny slope options that will be around in the next few weeks.
A few pictures from the day can be found at:
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