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15 Feb 2007
Snowshoes in Vermont
If you have not tried snowshoeing, you should give it a try on your next visit to Vermont. It's easy to do and a great way to have fun in the snow. As they say, if you can walk you can snowshoe. It makes walking in the snow much easier because you don't sink in as much as you would with just boots on - what's called "post holing." Snowshoes have metal claws on the bottom to help grip in even icy conditions.

Here are some ideas on where to go.

Tubbs snowshoes were manufactured for many years in Stowe VT. Unfortunately the company was sold to K-2, a large ski manufacturer, which then moved Tubbs production to China.

As a result, I don't feel as much loyalty to Tubbs as I once did but they make a great snowshoe and they support the sport. One good thing they have continued is their Tubbs Trailnet website which lists hundreds of snowshoe trails recommended by people who are familiar with the trails.

To find a snowshoe trail, choose a location and degree of difficulty (easy, moderate, more difficult, back country). These trails are submitted by people who snowshoed the trails, mostly locals who are familiar with the area. Many of them are snowshoe enthusiasts who enjoy sharing their trails with fellow snowshoers.

Easy does not always mean easy for you. If you are 45 years old and spend your days at a desk with little exercise, you may think the trail should have been ranked difficult. On the other hand, you might find a trail rated moderate is actually easy for you. Or it could be an easy trail with moderate sections. These are not a scientific judgments and they are not precise - just one person's assessment.

There are 239 reviewed trails in Vermont, a small fraction of the number actually here.

You should also talk to the innkeeper where you will be staying. They may have their own trails like we do (with free snowshoes to use on our property) or they will refer you to a local outdoor outfitter.

Two excellent outfitters I am familiar with are Umiak Outfitters in Stowe and Clearwater Sports in Waitsfield but you will find other outfitters all over Vermont. Most outfitters can set you up with equipment and directions, or better yet for casual snowshoeing, offer guided tours of area woods. Some of them add in things like wine and cheese tours, wildlife viewing, etc.

Ski areas, both alpine and nordic, are also a good source of trails and equipment rentals. For instance, Bolton Valley.

You can check the Vermont Outdoor Guide Association website which lists snowshoe outfitters in northern VT: Bolton, Essex Junction, Huntington, Jay, Stowe, Waitsfield; and in the southern half of VT: Killington, Rawsonville, Bondville, Stratton and West Dover.

I recently came across Maple Ridge, a company that makes excellent quality waterproof maps for snowshoeing and cross country skiing the Stowe and Smugglers Notch areas.

The Green Mountain Club is Vermont's leading source of information for trail users. If you have time before your arrival, I highly recommend ordering their book Snowshoeing in Vermont. It has trail descriptions, directions on how to find the trails, good places to park, maps, mileages. We have a copy of this book for use by our guests and the place you are staying may have one as well. We just copy the information on whichever trail the guest wants to try. It's a great way to choose a trail suitable for the guest's skill level and engery level.

You don't have to find a forest trail to snowshoe in Vermont. There are many, many town parks and municipal playgrounds where you can have a leisurely snowshoe walk on level ground. Again, your innkeeper will be the best source of local information like that.

(c) 2007 Jeff Connor
posted by  grunhaus at  13:36 | permalink

12 Feb 2007
Two-for-one Deal at Stowe on Valentine's Day
I mentioned in a Feb 10 post that I heard Stowe had a two-for-one ticket price this Wednesday, Valentine's Day, but I could not find it on their website. They posted it today: Stowe two-for-one Valentine's special.

(c) 2007 Jeff Connor
posted by  grunhaus at  17:50 | permalink

10 Feb 2007
Vermont Romantic Valentine's Day Ideas
What could be better than a romantic trip to a beautiful place like Vermont for Valentine's Day? A relaxing day snowshoeing a quiet woods, or skiing in the clean mountain air, or perhaps a sleigh ride, then a delicious dinner for two, an evening in front of a cozy fireplace . . . that is the essence of a memorable Valentine's Day. Give your loved one a gift they will not only appreciate but also cherish for a long time.

If you can't get away, find a distinctive gift instead. I believe Valentine's Day is the busiest period of the year for Vermont Teddy Bear , even surpassing Christmas, for good reason: these are the highest quality teddy bears you can find and they are made in the USA, right here in Vermont. You can buy just the plain bear or dress it up with all kinds of costumes including occupantional and Valentine's themes. Guaranteed home run!

And if you have a Ben & Jerry's Scoop Shop nearby, just swing by on the way home and pick up one of their Valentine's Day ice cream cakes with special "Love You" message on top! You might want to call ahead and reserve one just to be safe.

(c) 2007 Jeff Connor
posted by  grunhaus at  22:20 | permalink

10 Feb 2007
Great Skiing Outlook
Today the temperatures were comfortable with a high in the mid 20's F and little or no wind. In the past week, we have been getting small snow dumps of 2" to 4" at a time. Ski areas in our north central part of Vermont have received 1.5 to 2 feet of snow over the last week.

Skiing was great today with good temps all day long, great snow conditions, and even though there were people all over the place, it never got crowded. It snowed a bit during the day and picked up the pace late afternoon.

The temps are predicted to drop again next week but the snow conditions should remain great. If you plan to ski Vermont, the outlook is very good.

(c) 2007 Jeff Connor Grunberg Haus
posted by  grunhaus at  17:05 | permalink

10 Feb 2007
Valentine's Day Ski Specials
Lift tickets at Sugarbush will be just $14 on Valentine's Day! I think I had read in a local newspaper that Stowe will have a two-for-one special that day but I can't find it on their web site. They may not be promoting it but that happens sometimes and you won't know of a special until you show up or call and ask.

Check for similar specials at other ski areas. If you are not sure which one you might light to go to, a good place to start is the Vermont Ski Areas Association web site.

(c) 2007 Jeff Connor
posted by  grunhaus at  13:30 | permalink

30 Jan 2007
Western Skiing vs. VT Skiing
If you are trying to decide between a ski trip out west or to VT, here is some guidance from a Skimrv.com Forum member today, Jan 30:

"Despite all the howling about the bad conditions a month ago and the often heard cry, "this sucks I'm going out west" the season has turned around. The west except for the PNW has not seen alot of snow this season. Even the big storms we saw on the news in Denver was concentrated on the front range and the resorts west into the mountains didn't get the big dump.

"The first western resort to fall off the table this season is June Mountain, sister resort to Mamouth Mt. in CA. They are throwing in the towel and closing due to lack of snowfall this season. Heavenly, Squaw and Mammoth long used to huge Sierra dumps are still only 70% open. There are resorts 100% open but the skiing has not been like you see in the brochures. Even Utah has not seen alot of new snow in the last 2/3 weeks.

"This is not totally across the board as I heard Alta/Snowbird got some snow last week but not much in the Park City area. If your going out west make sure you check the conditions at the resort your going to cause you might be shocked to find that the conditions here in northern Vermont might be as good or even better. "

You can see this entry and subsequent responses under the heading "The shoe is on the other foot now" in the Topics column.

I was corresponding recently with someone who lives in Park City and he told me the same thing: not really that much snow there despite all the headline news about major storms in the Pacific North West.

The Skimrv.com website is an excellent source of information about Sugarbush, Mad River Glen, and the Mad River Valley in general. Look for frequent posts by "win" who is Win Smith, an owner and CEO of Sugarbush. I suppose there might be other major ski area owners who are just as accessible as Win, but I have not heard of any. It's an unusual opportunity to communicate directly with the "top dog."

Lots of good reading on this forum because you get straightforward facts and opinions. It's interesting and helpful to see what the insiders are saying about what is going on.

(c) 2007 Jeff Connor

posted by  grunhaus at  21:49 | permalink

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