Temperatures have been fairly seasonable over the past week, with a couple rounds of light snow in the mountains to produce some small powder days on Monday and Friday. Today dawned sort of gray with a snowstorm passing to our south, but the clouds gradually dissipated, the temperatures rose to around 50 F at the house, and we decided to head off to Stowe for some afternoon runs. We’d been eyeing the forecast in the morning and it had seemed really iffy in terms of getting warm enough to soften the slopes, but eventually it became obvious that even the mountains were going to get there.
En route to the resort we caught some views of Mt. Mansfield, and you could still see the signs of yesterday’s snow in the alpine. Indeed, even in some shady spots down below 1,000’ in elevation, vestiges of the recent snow were still hanging around. We opted for the Mansfield Base Lodge again as we’d done last Sunday, but the parking lot was nothing like what we’d seen then; it was obvious that it was a Saturday and the weather was nice, because the main lot was packed. Temperatures were in the 40s F, and the sun was out, so folks were all around the mountain and parking lots having a good time.
We worked with the boys on their Telemark Skiing using the same Ridge View/Sunrise/Tyro/Crossover combination that we’d skied last weekend. With the beautiful weather, the skier traffic was much higher today than what we’d encountered on Sunday, and that changed a couple of things. The terrain got a little more bumped up, which gave the boys some opportunities to try some Telemark turns through the moguls. Dialing in Telemark turns through the moguls requires quick footwork and good transitions, but the boys are at least getting to the stage in their progression that they can piece together some good segments. Dylan had a fall at one point that actually cracked his goggles a bit, so it looks like he’ll be able to get some fancy new ones like his brother. We even discovered that yesterday’s powder was around in areas off the edges of the trails. It had often thickened (and become good for building snowballs as we tested) but it was pretty nice in spots and it was refreshing to get a few floaty turns.
The downside of the nice weather was the increase in skier traffic to Stowe-like levels, which was unfortunately exacerbated by the reduced terrain options. Even sticking to the moderately-pitched routes, there were way too many people skiing way too fast for comfort. Ty and Dylan are definitely well into that intermediate stage with their Telemark turns, and while the terrain was perfect for them, the number of people straight-lining the slopes is really incompatible with kids trying to work on the larger radius turns that are common at their stage of learning. We had a few close calls, but fortunately no collisions.
Eventually the Quad shut down for the day and we had to call it an afternoon. Back in the Mansfield Base Lodge we got to listen to the après ski band they had playing. It’s been kind of nice visiting the scene there; it’s really the old school alternative to the Spruce Camp Base Lodge. On the way home we checked in at some of the ski shops on the Mountain Road for a new pair of goggles for Dylan, and stopped for dinner at the Crop Bistro & Brewery, which is the new restaurant where The Shed used to be located. The caliber of the food appears to be a bump up from The Shed’s offerings, and not surprisingly, the prices have increased to match. As anyone who has been up the mountain road in the past several months has seen, the exterior of the building has been changed from the red of The Shed to a more yellowish color, and the interior has been all redesigned as well. They’ve gone with that “contemporary rustic” style, and have included several impressive (and large) photographs of the Vermont countryside from one of the local photographers. The overall feel of the Crop actually reminds me a lot of the Farmhouse Tap & Grill in Burlington, featuring high-quality food that is locally sourced as much as possible and really showcases what the local agriculture has to offer.
I had an amazing pasta special with nuts, sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms, and a spectacular sauce. E had a cheeseburger, which was accompanied by some of their homemade sauces, and we all shared an appetizer of bread, honey, nuts, and an assortment of local Vermont cheeses. The boys got the grilled cheese, which was made with Cabot Cheddar. Price wise, the Crop doesn’t seem like it’s quite going to be the place that The Shed was for popping in for meals off the bike path, but the locavore approach is nice to see, and the food we had was really good, so it’s a nice addition to the dining options in Stowe.
Stowe is planning to make tomorrow their last day running the lifts, and it seems to be mostly due to the lack of interest from skiers. There’s supposed to be some additional snow coming in later in the day tomorrow, but we’ll have to see what the clouds and potentially cooler temperatures do to the snow surfaces, and whether it’s worth heading out for the resort’s last lift-served day this season.