Bolton Valley, VT 13MAR2014

An image of ski tracks in powder snow on the Twice as Nice trail at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Compliments of winter storm Vulcan

It was over a week ago that Typhoon Tip of the American Weather Forum spotted a potential winter storm of the Northeastern U.S. based on the overall large-scale weather patterns.  He started a thread that ran for dozens and dozens of pages, and as the time period in question approached, it looked more and more like Northern New England was going to be in the sweet spot for snow.  Folks up here were understandably cautious, as most storms have seemed to trend southward this season, but winter storm “Vulcan” formed, and walked right through Northern Vermont with up to 24 inches of snow at some of the local ski resorts as of this morning.  Although the snowpack at the Mt. Mansfield Stake is running less than a foot below average depth, it’s actually been a pretty lean snow year for the Northern Greens, with places like Bolton Valley and Stowe not yet even reaching 200 inches of snowfall.  The on piste snow had definitely been a bit stale last weekend, so Vulcan was very welcomed with respect to both freshening surfaces and building the snowpack going into the spring skiing season.

“…this stuff put
down a ton of
liquid equivalent.”

I got the word in the morning that UVM wasn’t resuming classes until noontime because of the challenges of clearing all the snow, so after thoroughly clearing the driveway with the snow thrower, I headed up to Bolton Valley on my way in to Burlington.  I knew from the snow report that all the lifts were on hold due to the winds, so I brought my skins and planned on a quick ascent of Timberline.  Temperatures were in the single digits at the Timberline Base even as midday approached, but it actually turned out to be a very comfortable temperature for skinning with what I had on.   I generally found 14-18” of settled snow down at the 1,500’ elevation, and was therefore happy to see that there was indeed a skin track in place up Twice as Nice.  In actuality, it was a snowshoe track that had apparently been made by snow snowboarders, but it was well packed and accommodated my skins well.

I made quick time up to the top of Twice as Nice, ripped off my skins, and headed right back down.  This was definitely one of those situations where you never quite know how the snow is going to ski until you ski it, but I could tell it was probably going to be dense, so I had chosen Twice as Nice because of its more consistent pitch.  There was plenty of snow, but there wasn’t much of any fluff on top, so the powder skiing was fairly underwhelming, certainly by NVT standards.  Combined with the cold temperatures, the skiing was definitely “slow” this morning.  I’m glad I had my fattest skis at 115 mm underfoot, but even they didn’t keep me planing high enough on some of the shallower pitches.  After skiing it, I’m actually looking forward to trying the snow from this storm chopped up a bit in chowder form – the trails are going to be great at that stage because this stuff put down a ton of liquid equivalent.  There were certainly some good turns to be had, but nothing spectacular like you can get with fluffy Champlain Powder™.

On my way to Burlington on Route 2, I found myself running right alongside a locomotive, the 2674 from New England Central Railroad, and I was impressed with the way the snow was flying as it cleared the tracks of fresh snow.  I sped ahead to see if I could catch it at the Jonesville railroad crossing, and quickly parked the car along the side of the intersection there and go into position.  I was able to catch the locomotive blasting through the berm left by the plow, and the snow was flying everywhere.  Just moments after this, I saw a snow plow approach the intersection, and the driver was really excited to see if I’d gotten the shot.  I gave him a big “thumbs up” to let him know that I’d managed to get it, and couldn’t wait to have a chance to see just what it looked like.  I’d argue it looked like what a locomotive would do on a powder day.

An image of a locomotive hitting the snow at the Jonesville railroad crossing in Vermont
Catching a locomotive hitting the snow at the Jonesville railroad crossing

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