Bolton Valley, VT - December 24th, 2005
On Saturday we took Ty up to Bolton Valley for a few afternoon ski runs. I hadn’t initially thought of taking him up to Bolton, but Grandma mentioned it and it sounded like a good idea. With holiday visitors at the house, and another family gathering later that evening, time was a little tight. So, Bolton was especially appropriate being only about 30 minutes away. E hadn’t been out to ski with Ty in the past couple of weeks, so this would be an opportunity for her to ski with him using the leash, and see the progress he’d made first hand.
The weather had been warming since the previous day, and had risen above freezing in the valley. When we left my parent’s house in Shelburne (elevation ~180’), the car thermometer was reading 39 degrees F. At the bottom of the Bolton Valley Access Road (elevation ~340’) it was at 37 F, and by the time we reached Bolton’s main base (elevation ~2,100’) it was down to 34 F. There was a notable difference in the look of the snow on the mountain when compared to the valley. Down in the valley, the snow was getting spring-like, and had melted off the trees. Up on the mountain, even at the base area, there was a coating of white on the trees, and the snow still looked pretty dry and wintry. Bolton was reporting 2 inches of new snow, which we hoped would make for some pleasant skiing.
Once we passed through the lodge area and I could see the slopes, I was immediately struck by how different things looked since the last time I’d been there. The most notable difference was the new Vista Quad chair heading up the mountain from just above the lodge. The changes they’d made to the slopes, combined with the look of the lift and the additional cutting involved in the lift line, made it feel like a much bigger place. I couldn’t believe that the Timberline area wasn’t open when we drove past it on the access road. The Timberline quad wasn’t running and there were no signs of life, but man did the trails look fantastic with a little fresh snow and no tracks. I thought they would have tried to fire up everything they could for the holidays, but since it was still pre-Christmas, maybe they were waiting.
We hopped on the new quad, which allowed Mom, Dad, and Ty to ride on a chairlift all together for the first time ever. I initially thought the new quad was a detachable unit, but after boarding and riding, it seemed to be a low-speed model. The ride was a lot of fun, and Ty enjoyed the chair’s safety bar, which Lost Trail doesn’t have on any of its lifts. I liked checking out the trail changes that had been made since the installation of the new lift. I’m not sure if they plan to make the lift line itself a real trail, but it looks as though it will provide some fun terrain. The natural snow cover was still a bit too thin for skiing the lift line, since they have left a lot of the rocks, trees and stumps from the clearing process. There were actually a number of tracks in the powder on the lift line, but you’d really want to be using your rock skis. Turning around and looking behind me as we rode the lift, I could look out and see the expanse of the valley. I’d forgotten just how huge and scenic that valley actually was. It’s certainly going on my list of potential backcountry exploration sites. Further up the lift line, I could see that they had removed the old summit double, since the new quad goes at least as high as that one. However, the lower double (Mid-Mountain Lift) is still there and was running, probably to provide easy access to the lower mountain beginner terrain.
At the top of the quad, I had to take a look at the big billboard map. Although I’ve skied at Bolton Valley dozens of times, the trips are generally scattered so I don’t know the trails by heart. And when it comes to skiing with Ty, I like to start with the greenest of the green trails, because on anything else he can’t do much in terms of slowing himself down. So, we took Sherman’s Pass, which is a classic night skiing trail that I definitely knew. The layout feels a little different now, since there is a lodge near the top that I hadn’t seen before. The snow was generally nice packed powder, softened by the couple inches of fresh snow, but there were a few slick spots where man-made snow was present. There were also a couple of spots where cover was thin and gravel had come through. Like the lift line under the new quad, the woods needed a bit more coverage, but you could certainly hop in with your rock skis and get some fluffy turns.
Ty did well, and E really started to enjoy herself after she figured out how the leash worked for Ty. At first, she couldn’t figure the leash out, because she would try to lead him into turning one way, and it wouldn’t work. It turned out that he was doing so much of the turning himself, that she had to just go with what he wanted. My favorite part of the day was seeing the big smile on E’s face as she guided Ty around and watched him pick his turns. After being sick with a stomach virus the previous day, it was the most smiling she’d done in a while. We finished off the afternoon with a couple of runs from the Snowflake Lift. We tried to get Ty to follow me as I made lots of turns in a wedge, and although he did follow me at times, he typically went wherever he wanted. At least, with both Mom and Dad skiing, he had the opportunity to follow behind someone and watch their actions when he could.
By the end of the day, I could feel that the snow on the lower mountain was a bit wet compared to that of the upper mountain, but the difference was still rather subtle. The temperatures are cold again now, and the upcoming forecast once again looks snowy, so hopefully the trails will gradually be resurfaced.