The Ultimate Vermont Weekend Ski Trip

December 11, 2012


“Pass the cheese. Can I have the olives?”

So begins the typical road trip in our family. Right after work and school on Friday, we visit Esposito’s in St. Laurent for hot bagels, deli meats, cheese, olives, grapes, tomatoes, whatever other fruit looks good, chocolate and a selection of drinks.

On this occasion, we’re heading to Stowe, Vermont for some cross-country skiing. We’re very excited because this three-day trip includes lots of exercise, luxurious accommodation, farm-to-table meals and only six hours of driving total over three days.

And our Trip Tik from CAA doesn’t show any road construction.

Songs from the Sound of Music fill the car as we talk about our first destination, the Trapp Family Lodge. The resort began life as a farm for the World War II Austrian escapees featured in the classic film before becoming the first cross-country ski destination in the United States. We go there often and the easy and moderate ski trails make safe exhilarating skiing for two athletic teenagers and their less mobile parents.

There are lots of activities too. If we had time, we could take singing lessons, enjoy a ride on a horse-drawn carriage or take a history tour that includes a discussion about the vast Trapp family tree. But we’re only here for the weekend, so none of those things are on our schedule. We’re here to ski. And eat.

Saturday morning begins with a flaky apple strudel before happily skiing Sleigh Road and Skater’s Waltz to the south of the Lodge. Just before noon, we begin bickering while climbing north for an hour or so to get to the Slayton Pasture Cabin in the woods.

After enjoying hot soup in front of a warm fire, we stop bickering and start speaking nicely to one another again.

We take our time skiing down a three-mile-long grade with mostly no arguments, except for the brief discussion about a steep detour. My imaginings about finding my son in a crumpled heap at the bottom don’t occur. After racing along a flat trail next to the parking lot, our day ends with a quick beer and three ciders at the microbrewery. We need to stock up before driving to our second ski destination, the Stowe Mountain Resort on Mount Mansfield.

Thanks to good snowfall and fancy snow-making equipment, Stowe Mountain Resort is well-known in Montreal for downhill skiing, but it has 42km of groomed Nordic trails and another 30km of back-country trails for people like me. It’s more than enough, especially when we stop early to take the gondola up to the Cliff House Restaurant at the top of Mount Mansfield, 3,625 in the air, for filling steaks and ribs.

The rest of the day featured swimming and a brief visit to the shops in Stowe village, but I don’t remember anything other than hot chocolate at Laughing Moon Chocolates.

The next day, we get up late to enjoy Vermont cheese on homemade bread. We needed stoking for our drive to our second-to-last ski destination, the Morse Farm Ski Touring Center, just north of Montpelier. Morse Farm offers 24 km of groomed trails designed by New Hampshire cross-country ski expert John Morton. Despite some great skiing, the highlight here is the gift shop with lots of delicious maple syrup and other maple treats.

It’s still early, but we’re all ready to head straight home, so we drop plans to try to find the Catamount Trail, a 300km-long trail that runs between the Canadian and Massachusetts borders.

We had to stop and have dinner at Three Tomatoes in Burlington, though. Their tomato pies are awesome.

Note: This article was published on p29 in the West Island version of the Suburban on December 5.

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Tracey Arial

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Tracey Arial

Tracey Arial helps Canadians grow with notable nonfiction and urban agriculture.

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