Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry, VT 08JAN2011
After checking out Bolton’s snow situation and alpine trail offerings around midday, I headed home and filled E and the boys in on what I’d found. Since there was plenty of powder, but not a ton of lift-served trail options were available, it was a perfect time to head up for a tour on the Nordic/Backcountry network. Dave and I had found that the amount of base snow was excellent when we’d headed up to the Bryant Cabin the previous Saturday, so we were expecting great things with all the fresh stuff on top of it.
Everyone was a bit slow to get rolling, and it was after 3:00 P.M. by the time we got up to the village. It was snowing up on the mountain, quite steadily in fact as we got our gear together. Although the flakes were still the rather small ones associated with the front end of the inverted trough system, they were coming down fast enough that gear was getting covered. The snowfall was intense enough as we prepared for the tour that base layers of clothing were starting to get a bit wet if they weren’t covered. We saw various Nordic skiers zooming by on Broadway, and Dylan was very excited to get going as he watched them. Ty was more thrilled with attempting to roll the huge snow boulders that had been created by the plows.
We headed up World Cup and then Bryant at a leisurely pace dictated by Dylan. It was very pleasant with the snow falling, and at times even the late day sun peeked out from over in the Adirondacks. Presumably due to the late hour, we didn’t even see anyone on Bryant. Much fun was had on the ascent as everyone tried their sneaky best to dump snow from the trees on everyone else. We continued up about as far as what Dylan’s preference combined with the fading light would allow, which wound up being the base of JJ’s.
From the base of JJ’s we switched over to skiing mode and headed down Coyote. The powder was delightful, and we floated through a consistent six inches on the descent. There was nothing overly steep for the first part of the descent, and on the mellower grades the boys were able to work on Telemark stances and balancing in the unevenness of the fluff. It was twilight as we descended, and the lights had come on above the alpine trails to create a very neat scene in the distance.
As we got back toward the Nordic network, we skied an initial steeper pitch down to World Cup, got our bearings there, and then eventually found ourselves at the top of the Telemark Practice Slope. The slope looked really inviting, with some tracks, but also a lot of untracked powder. It was getting pretty dark, and the terrain was definitely too steep and irregular to be skiing it in that amount of light… or so I thought. I was in the process of suggesting how we could loop back around on World Cup to get us to the base, when Dylan strolls over and inquires if we can ski down the barely lit slope. Nobody else, including E, seemed to find it as strange as I did that we were thinking about skiing this rather steep, partially gladed slope in that amount of light. So, who was I to argue?
Nobody had to say anything more, and before we knew it we were all diving into the powdery darkness of the pitch. The snow was really sweet. I touched down at times, especially where old tracks of skiers had made an irregular surface during the previous weekend’s warmth, but once I found the smooth areas it was beautiful. About ¼ of the way down I spied what looked like a really open line off in the trees to the right, jumped in, aimed for the lightest areas, and then held on tight. There seemed to be a brighter area, dim as it was, at the end of the tunnel, so I aimed for that and came out screaming into a powdery clearing in the forest with a “Yeeee-haaaa!” I yelled to the others out there in the near darkness that it was awesome over where I was, and Dylan was the only one that came all the way over. Later I heard that he was very interested in checking out the area that had caused such exclamation. I think he made a good choice, as the powder was untouched and the base was perfectly smooth. Everyone finished out the slope safely, and we cruised back to the car on the groomed slopes below.
There’s always a little something extra that comes with skiing without quite enough light, and we’ll have that run to remember for a long time. I think that E and the boys were certainly intrigued by their first trip to Bolton’s Nordic and backcountry trails. Kudos to Bolton for making their “All Access” passes this season; next time E wants to finish off the tour with a visit to Sports Center for some hot tub and pool fun.
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