Bolton Valley Nordic, VT 30JAN2010
I was eager to check out all the new snow from the midweek storms, and predicted single temperatures had me thinking of earning turns instead of hitting the lifts. With a suggestion from one of my students in mind, I decided to head up for a tour in the Cliff Hanger area of Boltonís Nordic network. I waited for the temperatures to warm up a bit, and from somewhere several degrees below zero, we were up to the 7-8 F range at the house (495í) by midday. Up at the mountain, I parked in one of the tennis court lots in the village (~2,100í), and there was definitely no temperature inversion in place because the temperature had dropped to one lonely degree F at that elevation. Despite being on verge of zero, the sun was shining brightly and there was little if any wind, so it was actually quite comfortable.
I literally had slope-side parking on the Picnic trail, and quickly connected onto World Cup and then Bryant for my ascent. Bolton had picked up about 15 inches of new snow in the summit areas from the midweek events, and my checks at the village elevations revealed that accumulations of powder had settled in the range of 7 to 8 inches. With the way the wind blew through in association with Thursdayís cold front, Iím sure there are some areas that were windswept, but down in the hollows around the Nordic area, I didnít see much drifting. After ascending a portion of Bryant, I took the first option onto Cliff Hanger and headed across to the west side of the brook.
I ventured off Cliff Hanger to explore one of the gullies above the trail, topping out at around 2,600í. In terms of the tree skiing up in the gully, there was nothing extremely open, but there were several decent areas for turns. That leeward side of North Ridge had good protection from any winds, and all the fresh snow had settled in nicely there among the evergreens. The powder was in the range of 9-10 inches in depth up at those elevations. Iím not sure what the powder was like when it initially fell, but Iíd say itís in the medium weight range now and is enough to keep you off the subsurface for the most part. Even when I did interact with the subsurface, I was surprised to find it pretty spongy and pliable off trail. The skiing in the gully would probably be even better if the river was more filled in, but I suspect a lot of the snow had been washed down during some warm days and the Monday storm. Iíd say thatís the biggest issue to look out for in terms of touring in the area right now. The return to cold temperatures has generally iced over the brooks, and there is a nice coating atop that with all the new snow, but the brooks arenít filled in with a good snowpack and crossing them can present a challenge. There were no coverage problems in general though at the elevations I visited, especially away from the brooks.
Once I was down out of the gully and back on Cliff Hanger, I headed southeast on the trail for just a few moments before dropping into the trees below and descending to Brook Run. I didnít take any of the more formal glades, but the trees themselves offered plenty of space and the skiing was excellent. On Brook Run, just one person had broken trail before me, and I even got in on a few bonus powder turns where the trail steepened a bit. Looking up from Brook Run, I could see that there was a track or two on the gladed terrain dropping from Cliff Hanger, but that was about it. I hooked up on Broadway down near the Pump House, and finished my loop back to the car. The temperature had certainly risen during my tour; with the afternoon sun it was probably around 10 F when I was heading back down to the valley a bit before 3:00 P.M.
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