Mount Washington, NH 27MAY2012

An image of Dylan skiing the snow on the Mount Washington snowfields on Memorial Day Weekend 2012
Dylan getting his taste of Mount Washington’s Corn snow this Memorial Day Weekend

It’s becoming an almost annual tradition that once the Mount Washington Auto Road opens for its summer season, we head over with the boys for some skiing on the summit snowfields.  It’s not quite an annual tradition though, since there are years where an appropriate window of pleasant weather never presents itself to us before much of the snow melts out.  But then there are those years like 2010; the snow was so plentiful on our trip that we could easily travel among different snowfields.  The variability in weather and snowpack keeps these trips really interesting though; with the way that the weather patterns create different assortments of snow deposition each season, it never seems to be the same experience twice.

This year’s auto road skiing season began last weekend, when the road opened with outstanding weather for getting out on the mountain.  However, with other things on our plate, we had to wait until this weekend for a shot at some turns.  After some clouds and a bit of precipitation midweek, the fantastic late spring weather returned, and we were set up for blue skies on the mountain.  I’d been following the state of the snowfields in one of the Time for Tuckerman Forum threads, and coverage looked great last weekend.  The amount of snow dropped off a lot this past week, but it still looked like we’d have more snow than we did for our trip last season, when we couldn’t make it out to ski Mount Washington until June due to obligations and weather.  It looked like both Saturday and Sunday were going to be excellent days on the mountain, and we decided that skiing Sunday would work best with our schedule.

I finished up some yard work yesterday, and then we headed off to New Hampshire in the mid to late afternoon.  Our plan was to get in a night of camping at one of the New Hampshire campgrounds, and since we’d visited the Israel River Campground last year, we decided to try out the KOA in Twin Mountain this time around.  Although it’s Memorial Day weekend, we didn’t make any reservations and just decided to play it by ear.  As it turned out, we got the last available site at the campground, so we didn’t even have to check out any other options.  Even though it was the last available campsite, we really enjoyed the spot we got, which was under a bunch of stately white pines, and pretty close to the playground, pool, bathrooms, etc.

An image of the Ammonoosuc River in New Hampshire with early evening light
Beautiful early evening light hits the Ammonoosuc River as we travel toward Twin Mountain, New Hampshire.

The boys really like the campgrounds with the added amenities, so we’ll choose those sometimes, and of course as soon as we were at our campsite they were off to the playground.  One of the neat features at the playground was this huge soccer ball that was as tall as Ty’s waist; they had all sorts of fun kicking it around and launching themselves on top of it.  At least we were able to pull them away from the playground for a bit to help get the fire started and finish setting up the tent.  Instead of pulling wood out of our she, we’d purchased an armload of firewood from the campground, and I was happy to discover that the quality was good – it really got the fire blazing.  Sometimes we’ve gotten that moist wood that just likes to sit there and smolder, and that’s annoying.  We cooked up the usual assortment of burgers, dogs, and beans for dinner, and then had time for some s’mores, where I created perhaps the best s’more ever.  Dylan pointed out that since we hadn’t actually seen all the s’mores in the world, we couldn’t possibly know that, but I’m standing by my statement.  I contend that mine could easily have been used in a magazine to create a model image of how a s’more should look.

An image of Erica, Ty, and Dylan around a campfire making s'mores at the Twin Mountain KOA campground in New Hampshire on Memorial Day weekend 2012
S’mores around the campfire last night in Twin Mountain, NH

As we headed into the tent for the night, I was able to get on the internet (another benefit of campgrounds with amenities) and check on the forecast.  With the nice dry weather, the Twin Mountain area where we were located was forecast to have a low temperature of 43 F – some classic Memorial Day Weekend weather for Northern New England and very similar to last year where the forecast called for the upper 30s F, although that was actually at the beginning of June.  It looked like it was going to be comfortable sleeping weather, at least if we stayed in our sleeping bags.  The high for Sunday was expected to be 74 F in the valley, which would probably translate into the 50s F up on the snowfields.

I woke up pretty early this morning, at the point where we were just starting to get some light in the sky.  It was indeed chilly and I hung out in my sleeping bag watching some squirrels that seemed to be playing around way up above us in the towering pines.  Ty was chilly when he woke up, so he huddled up in his bag as well.  Dylan even hopped into Mom’s sleeping bag with her, and pointed out that his bag has definitely been getting too small.  He also added that this wasn’t the first time he’s told us about the size, and proceeded to hop in and demonstrate how his head is certainly sticking out, while his feet are crammed right up against the end of the bag.  OK, we get it Dylan, we are definitely behind on getting you a new sleeping bag.  Both boys are really in need of new bags though, and they are ready for some mummy-style ones, so I hopped on the internet and started looking around while we generally dozed in the tent.  I found that several companies make nice bags for kids – I saw a nice review on one of the 20-degree bags from Mountain Hardwear, and that seems to be the frontrunner in the selection process so far.

An image of pancake batter being dispensed for the all-you-can-eat breakfast at the Twin Mountain, New Hampshire KOA Campground
Now that’s how you make a pancake!

The campground was having an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast so we stopped in there and had our fill.  I enjoyed the batter dispenser that they had – you load it up with a bunch of pancake batter and it does a beautiful job of dispensing it evenly out of a funnel in the bottom.  It was fun chatting with the folks that helped run the campground, they’re really an enthusiastic bunch, and why not when you’re spending the summer camping.  E and I then got a chance to hang out on the front lawn in some of the wonderful Adirondack chairs that they’ve got assembled out there, and we watched the boys hit the playground with some of the other kids.  I got a chair with arms that must have been 6 to 8 inches wide, and of course flat, like the arms of a real Adirondack chair should be.  The wide arms are a hallmark of the chairs anyway, but these were fantastic for holding my last round of breakfast while I ate – if we get more Adirondack chairs, I’m going to be partial to those extra wide arms.  It would have been nice to kick back there in the chairs for a while, but there was skiing to be done, and with the forecast calling for clouds moving in later in the day, the sooner we got up the mountain the better.

The clear weather held strong as we headed up to Gorham and wrapped our way around down to the Great Glen area to the start of the Mount Washington Auto Road.  It’s always nice when you start seeing those patches of white up in the high peaks, and they were definitely sparkling in the late May sunshine.  The trip up the road went smoothly, and we threw in our copy of the audio tour CD, which is always a fun refresher of the history of Mount Washington and the auto road.  I guess that there’s actually a new version of the tour CD available, but the woman who helped us at the toll booth said to keep our old one because the narrator is better.  When we arrived at the parking area above the snowfields, we were surprised to find only two other cars there at midday on such a nice weekend day.  We weren’t surprised to see that both cars were also Subarus though – skiers know what works well for getting you to the slopes.  Whatever the snow conditions were going to be, it didn’t look like finding space on the snowfield was going to be an issue.

The boys played around and headed off for a quick hike up Ball Crag (6,106’) while E and I got the gear together.  The weather was indeed pleasant as forecast, although with a temperature in the lower 50s F and probably a 10 MPH breeze, it was nice to get our ski pants and other gear on while we worked.  After visiting various spots on the snowfields over the past few seasons, we’ve finally got a good sense for where the vestiges of the main snowfield like to sit at this time of year, so we dialed that descent in fairly easily – although you generally can’t see the snow from above once the snowfield has gotten small enough, heading in the direction of Wildcat’s ski trails will get you in decent shape.

An image of Jay advising Dylan as he skies though a narrow area with rocks on the Mount Washington east snowfields - Memorial Day Weekend 2012
A little advice from Dad as Dylan makes his way through the choke point on the upper snowfield

Unlike last year’s trip, when the remaining snow was only toward the bottom of the general East Snowfields area, there is currently substantial snow much higher up, so even in our Telemark boots it was a quick five to ten minute descent today to get down to the skiable snow.  We met a couple of guys from Time For Tuckerman Forums who are part of the Memorial Day Slackfest tradition, and had a fun time chatting with them.  One was RR, who plays a big part in the gathering and sets up the poles for the slalom that they like to have on Memorial Day.  RR and others have been keeping the auto road & snowfields conditions thread nicely updated with pictures, so many thanks go out for their work.  They filled us in on the status of the snow while another couple was just hiking back up from a run.  We were on the top of the main snowfield section, and it was broken up into three areas, with another similar snowfield down below us, and a smaller one off to the skier’s left.  Our snowfield had a choke point in the middle with some exposed rocks, so one had to be careful going through there.  It turned out to be enough of a hassle that we spent most of our time skiing the section of the snowfield below that point – the rocks just broke up the flow too much to try to get through there.  The turns were nice and smooth below that point though, and even sticking to just that one snowfield seemed to give us more vertical that we’d found on last year’s trip.

An image of Ty skiing under beautiful blue skies on the Mount Washington snowfields on Memorial Day Weekend 2012
Blue skies and corn snow for Ty

The boys were really excited to just slide on the snow in their ski pants, but we convinced them that they should do at least one run on the skis before they got to sliding, so they got their alpine boots on and were happy with that.  I skied down first with Dylan, getting some photos in the process, and when we reached the bottom I told him that I’d bring his skis back up for him so that he could go off and play.  Dylan had done a nice job with the turns – the snow quality was excellent as usual, and getting through that crux point was the only real challenge.  I hung out at the bottom of that upper snowfield and took pictures while E and Ty also did a run down to meet me.  Ty left his skis at the bottom like Dylan had done, and then they were off on their sliding adventures and created a “slide of doom” like they had last year.

An image of Erica skiing the snowfields on Mount Washington in New Hampshire, with a stripe of cirrus clouds among blue sky in the background
E’s back for another run.

E wasn’t very happy with the fluidity of her first run, and she made a couple more runs to get her groove going, which she definitely did.  I took plenty of shots with our usual Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens, then got her on another lap taking some wider-angle shots using our friend’s Canon EF-S 10-22 mm f/3.5-4.5 USM lens that we’d borrowed.  It’s a great compliment to the 24-105, and it’s been on my wish list for quite a while.  It’s been a lot of fun catching huge sweeping images, and it really takes some time to get used to just how much is going to be contained within the image when you’re using that lens.  People and objects to the side of my view were constantly ending up in the images if I didn’t pay attention.

An image of Jay Telemark skiing on the Mount Washington snowfields on Memorial Day Weekend 2012
Carving up the corn snow today on the snowfields

After E had had her fill or turns for a bit, she got behind the camera and I did a few more runs, including a side trip over to that other small snowfield to our north.  That one had some pristine snow, and it was a neat perspective getting shots of that snowfield from the side.  In general, the consistency of the snow was excellent today everywhere we went, but the main area was more tracked up, so the smooth turns were a treat.  Skies were generally blue, turning whiter as the afternoon wore on and clouds started to build in.  Having been out on the snowfields in less than optimal conditions before, we appreciate that fact that there was sunshine, minimal wind, no bugs, and simply perfect air temperature.  It would have been awesome if the whole snowfield had held together with good coverage for today, since the runs would have been much longer, but even sticking to the upper section of snow was enough for some good turns, and with the way this season went, it’s really nice to even be skiing on Memorial Day Weekend.  We actually never even visited that other chunk of the big snowfield that was down below the one we skied, but now that I look back at the web cam images and see what others had to say, it sounds like it was pretty decent in size and was probably offering up some fun turns.  Each year though, I get a better ability to translate what we see on the web cam images of the snowfields into what is actually on the ground, so we’ll be able go in with an even better perspective on what we want to ski next time around.

An image of Jay skiing one of the snowfields on the east side of Mt. Washington on Memorial Day weekend 2012
Heading over to another snowfield to our north for some smooth turns on the untouched snow
An image of Erica, Ty, and Dylan on the observatory deck of Mount Washington State Park's Sherman Adams Visitor Center at the summit of Mount Washington in New Hampshire
E and the boys spending some time on the summit

The other folks had left by the time we were winding down our session in the mid afternoon, so it was very quiet as I finally got a chance to have my lunch while we packed up the gear.  With some weather on the way, we got to watch some fun lenticular clouds form off to our east above Wildcat.  I bet that something similar was forming over our heads knowing the tendencies of Mount Washington and weather, but the sky never really got so cloudy that the intensity of the sun was lost.  The return trip to the car was very quick; it must have been just about five minutes since we were so close and knew exactly the direction to go.  Along with some clouds pushing in, the wind had picked up noticeably at the car, and it was probably in the 25-30 MPH range while we were packing up our equipment.  We switched out of most of our ski gear, and decided to stop in at the summit for a little while to take a look around with Ty and Dylan.  The boys got a couple of fun scientific toys in the gift shop (a gyroscope for Ty and a spinning magnet for Dylan) and they’ve been having a lot of fun with those.

An image of the sign for Alburrito's Mexican restaurant in Littleton, New Hampshire
Alburrito’s in Littleton, NH

It was sort of an interesting trip this year, since we camped before we skied.  That’s just the way things worked out with our availability and the forecast, but it gave us the chance to grab dinner somewhere on the way home.  We decided to check out Alburrito’s Mexican restaurant in Littleton.  We weren’t all that excited by the chips and salsa and the appetizer chili queso dip, but my vegetable burrito was quite good and E’s coconut shrimp was as well.  That redeemed things a bit, but we didn’t find it to be on par with Frida’s Mexican restaurant that we often visit in Stowe.  It made for a nice stopover though on what has been yet another successful trip to the Mount Washington snowfields.  These past couple of trips have certainly been on fairly small snowfields, so we’d hoping for a good combination of snowfall and spring weather that can get us up there when more snow is left next season.  We’ll see what Mother Nature has in store.  As I was writing this up, I noticed that RR has already made a post on the Time For Tuckerman Forum with some pictures from today; he even captured E and I and the boys in one of them.  That’s another great spot to get some pictures from this fine day out on the slopes.

Jay Peak , VT 12MAY2012

An image of Jay Telemark skiing in May on the Haynes Trail at Jay Peak Resort in Vermont
May turns today on the Haynes trail at Jay Peak Resort

The boys and I had visited Jay Peak exactly one month ago today to take advantage of the 2+ feet of upslope snow that a cutoff low pressure system had dropped on the Northern Greens.  It was great to catch up on all that had happened at the resort over the past couple of seasons, and since that visit I’ve been checking in on the Jay Peak website to keep up on the latest news.  I’d looked into lodging deals for that trip with the boys last month and hadn’t found quite what I was looking for at that point, but over the past couple of weeks they’ve been promoting a Mother’s Day brunch/lodging/water park package that looked quite attractive.  Prices started at $159 for brunch and lodging for two, and options were available to add on additional people and water park access.

I mentioned the idea to E earlier this week, and she thought it was a possibility, but we let it simmer for a while as we thought about what we might do with my parents over the weekend.  The boys caught wind of the Jay Peak idea, and they were of course gung ho about the whole thing, since it included visiting the Pump House Waterpark.  Finally, after finding out yesterday that my mom was heading with my sister to New York for the weekend, we decided to go ahead and book a room at the resort.  Since it was technically Mother’s Day on Sunday, we made sure that it was what E wanted to do, and she was excited about the idea.  I called up Jay Peak, spoke with a representative, and they set us up with a nice room in the Tram Haus.  The package included the Mother’s Day brunch at Alice’s Table, two days worth of access to the Pump House Waterpark, Ice Haus Arena access, and apparently a collection of other goodies that we saw listed on the website.  Another very cool part of the trip was that there was still snow for skiing.  Earlier in the week the resort had posted a photo of all the snow left at the Stateside area with the caption “May snow for the motivated”.  The snow looked good and I was motivated to get some turns, and I suspected that I could get E and the boys motivated as well.

After taking care of some yard work and other stuff at the house in the morning, we headed off to the resort around mid afternoon today.  Temperatures were around 70 F, and skies were partly clear with some clouds building in ahead of precipitation that’s expected overnight.  As we crested the top of Route 242, which is somewhere above 2,200’ in elevation, the effect of the altitude was very obvious as the temperature dropped well down into the 60s F.  We checked in at the Tram Haus and found our room there to be quite impressive; various locally crafted materials were used in the construction, and the craftsmanship seems first rate.  Our room was a suite-style setup, with a full kitchen and a good size living area that contained a pull-out bed for the boys.  Our balcony looked out right over the slopes, and we could even see the snowy slopes over at the Stateside Area.

An image of Ty looking out from the balcony of our room in the Tram Haus Lodge at Jay Peak Ski Resort in Vermont
Ty takes in the view of the resort and the snow at the Stateside area from our balcony at the Tram Haus Lodge.

After getting settled in the room for a bit, we hopped back in the car and drove over to Stateside to make some turns.  A quick look revealed that the Haynes/Mont L’Entrepide route seemed to have the most continuous snow, so we made use of the access road to the Jet Triple Chair, which allowed us to drive right up to the base of the runs.  It was nice dry grass there at the bottom of Mont L’Entrepide, and made for a great place to prepare the gear and get suited up.  There was a brisk breeze at times, and being Jay Peak, the weather was doing its own thing, so we even had a few spits of rain among the mixed clouds and sun.  We were thankful for the breeze when it was there, because black flies were already starting to appear.  They didn’t seem to be biting much yet, but they were still annoying when the breeze didn’t keep them away.

An image of a May wildflower on the Mont L'Entrepide trail at Jay Peak Ski Resort in Vermont
We saw beautiful wildflowers appearing on Jay Peak’s slopes.

We hiked for the first couple pitches of the ascent with our skis on our packs, and E and I took care of carrying the boys skis so that they could enjoy the ascent.  We saw a couple of other guys making the ascent as well, and climbing on the skier’s right seemed to be the most practical route.  Small patches of snow started to appear almost immediately as we headed upward, and then after passing a one relatively large area of snow, we were able to put on our skins for the rest of the ascent.  The snow was generally decent corn, although there were some areas where it was icier – we tried to avoid those areas on the ascent because they didn’t offer the skins very good grip.  One didn’t really need an established skin track for the ascent, but we generally followed what was set up by other skiers.  The continuous snow reached to just about the top of the trail, and for the last third of the ascent, E was really blazing the path and set up some a skin track with nice switchbacks.

An image of Ty making a Telemark turn on the Haynes Trail at Jay Peak Resort in Vermont in mid May
Ty getting in some Telemark turns on Haynes today

We enjoyed some relaxing time at the top of the ascent on Haynes as we soaked in the views of the resort and the wilds of the Northeast Kingdom.  The sun was in and out of the clouds, but the temperatures were perfect, and with the wind picking up as we ascended, any black fly issues disappeared for the most part.  The Haynes Trail is actually quite steep, so we were excited to see if the boys were going to go for some Telemark turns, or simply stick with alpine turns.  They actually mixed it up, with Ty making Tele turns throughout much of the descent regardless of pitch, and Dylan throwing them in where he felt comfortable as the pitch decreased a bit.  There was some really nice snow near the top of Haynes on the skier’s left – some fun, steep corn snow that let you push hard into the turns.  We did our best to avoid the dirty, icy areas, and we still had to hit some, but they were manageable.  We were able to make our way to the end of the last big patch of snow crossing just one notable gap, and then we strapped our skis back onto our packs and had about a five-minute descent to the car.  It was definitely fun to get in some May turns today, because even though May skiing is pretty standard most seasons, the combination of low snowfall and incredibly warm weather this March depleted the snowpack much quicker than usual.

An view of the Tram Haus Lodge, Tramside Base Lodge, Hotel Jay, and Pump House Waterpark viewed from the top of the Stateside area at Jay Peak Ski Resort in Vermont
A view of the Tramside Base Area from the Stateside Summit

The boys were actually in very good spirits for today’s ski session, because they knew that a trip to the water park was coming right on its heels.  We made it back to our room at the Tram Haus, got suited up for swimming, and headed out quickly to the water park because it was actually getting late.  One very cool thing we discovered today is that although the Pump House Waterpark is in the Hotel Jay, even if you are in the Tram Haus Lodge, you don’t have to go outside to get to the water park.  It turns out that the Tram Haus and the Tramside Base Lodge are connected to the Hotel Jay and water park by an underground tunnel; you never even have to go outside because the buildings are essentially all part of one huge complex.  I had initially inquired about getting a room at the Hotel Jay since we knew the water park was going to be big with the boys, but it was great to find out that staying at the Tram Haus works out just as well.  I’m sure this is a huge benefit to people in the winter; imagine being wet from the water park and having to head out into the elements at a place like Jay Peak.  It’s actually quite a labyrinthine trip to get through the whole complex from the Tram Haus to the Pump House, but it’s fun and you get to see a lot of what the resort has to offer.  You go right past Mountain Dick’s Pizza, so you can stop in if you want to get a bite to eat, and we saw that the Hotel Jay even has a big family/game room for people to use. In addition, right next to the water park there is a huge arcade.  Overall it’s quite a mesmerizing place to be a kid, and the boys were really bouncing off the walls due to the dizzying array of things to do.

As for the Pump House Waterpark, it was the first time visiting for me, but E and the boys had been before so they were my tour guides.  They started things off with a couple of laps in the Big River, which is the lazy-river style stream of water that encircles the area of the water park.  It’s actually got a decent current, and you can ride tubes or just swim around and go with the flow.  I was next introduced to the four main water slides.  I joined Dylan on the “blue” water slide, where you ride on one of the inflatable tubes just like in the Big River.  It’s been years since I’ve been to a water park, but man, these slides are fast!  In one section you go into complete darkness and as the slide dips and turns, it really throws you around.  I was yelling up a storm on the blue slide once the darkness hit – you really have no idea which way the slide is going to go next, so you’re just on the edge of your seat.  The “green” water slide has a similar setup, and Dylan and I started on our knees on our double tube – we had a pretty bad tumble in the dark section of the slide and ended up falling off our tube!  It was pretty crazy, and if you’re looking for something tame, these slides are certainly not it.  I was next introduced to the “orange” slide, which kicks it up a notch – you don’t ride a tube, and there are some serious g-forces if you let yourself pick up speed in that one.  To finish off, I tried the “red” slide, which is called “La Chute”; it has an off-axis loop in it.  Whoa, that one really is in a league of its own.  You take an extra staircase that gets you up into a little room sticking out of the top of the water park structure – that’s already a message right there.  You start off standing in what is essentially a clear, vertical coffin that gets closed around you, then the floor drops out from beneath your feet and you are just about free falling – that is until you start to get into the loop and you are crushed to the outer wall of the slide.  It is a huge, harrowing rush of a ride.  One very cool thing about our visit to the Pump House this evening was that since we were near the end of the day, we just walked right onto all the slides and there were no lines.  We also visited a bunch of other attractions in the water park – one that I really liked was the bouldering wall that is perched right above the water, so that when you release, you just splash down.  I want to get back to work on that one tomorrow.  We finished off in the huge “Hot Springs” hot tub, which has a number of little coves that act like little secluded hot tubs of their own.  I’d heard quite a bit about the Pump House from E and the boys and other folks that have gone, but I still wasn’t quite sure what my own experience would be like.  Now that I’ve been, I’ve got to say that almost anyone will find something there that they’ll enjoy.  I’d like to try the surfing wave tomorrow; there always seems to be at least a bit of a line there even when it’s slow, but it looks like it would be a lot of fun.

An image of the four main water slides in the Pump House Indoor Waterpark at Jay Peak Ski Resort in Vermont
The main water slides at the Pump House Indoor Waterpark

We stayed at the Pump House right up through the 9:00 P.M. closing, and then headed back to the room and cooked up a late dinner of pasta, bread, salad, and other stuff that we’d brought from home.  The kitchen in our unit has plenty of space and naturally everything you need for cooking and cleaning is available.  The boys say they already can’t wait to come again, so we’ll be watching for more lodging packages.  The water park really makes the trip quite unique, and it’s certainly an incentive to stay over and make it a multi-day event.  It’s also nice to be able to acknowledge Jay Peak’s efforts to make the resort a place that has got so much to offer that people will really want to come here, even if they aren’t skiing.  Being able to come up and have a good time, while supporting the economy in a part of the state that could really use the boost is a win-win as far as we’re concerned.  We came up two years ago for the Mother’s Day brunch at Alice’s Table for a day trip, but with all the additions to the resort since then, an overnight stay was a really good fit this time.  I’m sure the incentive to take similar trips will only increase as the resort’s developments continue – I can’t wait to see what the West Bowl ski terrain expansion will be like if the resort is able to continue with their plans.  On a practical note, I was able to hop right on to the free wireless here at the Tram Haus and upload this report with ease.  The signal was strong, and upload and download speeds were both in the 20 Mb/sec, so uploading pictures for the trip report was a snap.

Sunday update:  As forecast, the sky was gray this morning.  There wasn’t any notable precipitation when we first awoke, but from our room we could see umbratilous clouds pushing their way down from Jay Peak to hide the upper mountain slopes.  Brunch down at Alice’s Table was excellent, just as we’d experienced on our last Mother’s Day trip, and it felt like there were even more options available this time.  While at brunch, the rains finally came, and that quickly evoked memories of the snowstorm that was taking place the last time we’d been eating there – we were even sitting at the same table!

An image of tram and chairlift towers under descending clouds from the tram base area at Jay Peak Ski Resort in Vermont
Gray skies and descending clouds on Sunday morning

Our brunch was right at the start of the morning, so when we were done we had time to head back to the room and relax for a while.  The boys were of course chomping at the bit to get back to the water park, but they were at least able to amuse themselves watching some TV and playing their video games.  Most importantly, Mom got to spend at least some of the morning relaxing in her big king bed in the master bedroom, and the boys generally let her do that.  When we finally checked out, I was still curious about all those additional perks that we’d heard about on the website.  The associate at the front desk eventually realized that they were part of a coupon book, and she passed a copy along to us.  Indeed it’s chock full of some great Jay Peak deals, such as a family tram ride, an additional ticket for the water park, a $10 gift certificate that was good anywhere at the resort, tokens for the arcade, equipment rental at the Ice Haus Arena, etc.

An image of Dylan, Erica, and Ty having lunch at The Warming Shelter snack bar next to the water park at Jay Peak Ski Resort in Vermont
Lunch at The Warming Hut snack bar

After checking out, we moved on to the water park for another session, and as we headed from the car through windy sheet drizzle, it only reinforced the fact that an indoor water park is absolutely the way to go when it comes to Jay Peak.  You get the winter access of course, but at any time of year, you never quite know what the mountain is going to deliver for weather.  There were a few more people at the water park today compared to last night, but the slides were essentially “walk on” again, with occasionally two or three people in front of you at the slide entry.  I didn’t get a chance to try the surfing, but it looks like one of the coupons we received provides a lesson with one of the instructors, so that may be useful.  I’d managed to eat well at brunch (not surprisingly), but E and the boys can’t quite pull that off, so they had some lunch at “The Warming Shelter” snack bar attached to the water park.  By that point, Ty and I were done swimming, so we hung out in there while E and Dylan went back out for several more laps in the Big River.  Ty and I were able to watch them from our seats as they’d float by, and we had a good time chatting and relaxing in the snack bar.  It’s quite a disparity of environments when you are behind the glass there.  Out in the water park it’s warm, humid and loud, but in the snack bar it was the exact opposite.

Before leaving, we stopped in at the Elevation 1851’ Family Arcade, used our coupon tokens for some skee ball, and the boys played a round on one of the video games where you ride on motorcycles.  We also checked out the surf shop to see if they carried any Jay Peak surf shirts; a lot of folks (including Ty and Dylan) use those type of shirts at the water park, and they help to keep you a bit warmer if you’re going to be in the water all day.  I’ve got one that I use for kayaking, which also keeps away that board rash from long days of boogie boarding, and E has been wanting one for a while.  The surf shop is fairly big, with lots of Jay Peak merchandise, but we had no luck on Jay Peak-specific surf shirt.  That would be kind of a neat item though, a surf shirt from a ski area.  As we headed home, the sky gradually brightened and eventually gave way to partly cloudy conditions, and a check of the rain gauge  at the house revealed that we hadn’t even received any precipitation while we’d been gone.  In the winter that precipitation pattern probably would have meant some snow for Jay Peak, while even just an hour south at the house we would have totally missed out on  it – just some off season work by the famous Jay cloud.