Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry, VT 03MAR2018

An image of people riding fat bikes on the Nordic Trails at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont March after a fresh snowfall
An image of the Prayer Flag trail on the Backcountry Network at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Heading down through a bit of fresh powder today on the Prayer Flag trail on the Bolton Valley Backcountry Network

Yesterday the Northeast was affected by Winter Storm Riley, a whopper of a system with wind gusts reaching 93 MPH in Barnstable on Cape Cod.  On the winter side of the storm, the Catskills were the epicenter for big snowfall, with accumulations reaching 40 inches.  Here in Vermont, the snow totals weren’t quite as outrageous, but the southern resorts still pulled in over a foot of accumulation.  Bolton Valley was reporting 4 inches of new snow from the storm, which seemed like just enough to temp me out for a tour in the new powder.

“I didn’t have first tracks, but I did catch second tracks, and they were generally bottomless thanks to the dense snow and 115 mm fat skis.”

I headed up to the Village in the mid-morning timeframe with temperatures in the upper 20s F and mostly cloudy skies.  The parking lots were already getting quite full, but there were still a number of parking spots right along Broadway, and I was able to grab one of those.  I actually saw a few folks riding fat bikes on some of the lower Nordic Trails, and it looked like a perfect day to be out on those.  Actually, with the fresh snow, comfortable temperature, and peeks of sun, it was just a gorgeous day to be out on anything – I saw all manner of folks on the trails varying from the bikers, to snowshoers, to Nordic skiers, to backcountry skiers.

A direction arrow and snowy evergreens on the backcountry network at Bolton Valley Resort in VermontWith only a few inches of new snow, I was looking for some low-angle glades for today’s tour, and I decided to venture across to the west side of the valley for a change.  I kicked things off with a run on Prayer Flag, augmented by ascending a bit farther up the west wall of the valley above the flags to get some extra vertical.  I didn’t have first tracks, but I did catch second tracks, and they were generally bottomless thanks to the dense snow and 115 mm fat skis.  Only when I had to cut hard to stop or adjust for a major obstacle would I get down to the subsurface.  Lower angle was clearly the way to go today though, because down on Brook Run I could see that steeper terrain like the Holden’s Hollow Glades will definitely need another storm before they’ll be back in top form.

Down at the pump house on Broadway, I reskinned my skis and headed back up World Cup to Bryant.  I skied the first half of Cup Runneth Over to start my next run, skipping the steeper bottom half because the new snow just wasn’t sufficient for that pitch.  Cup Runneth Over had seen a couple of skiers, but there was ample fresh snow remaining and the turns were generally very nice.  I finished out with some of the usual glades in the World Cup area, and even caught part of the Telemark Practice Slope, which had actually seen minimal traffic.

A Google Earth Map with GPS Tracking Data for a ski tour on the Nordic & Backcountry Network at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
A map of today’s tour on the Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry Network

The classic end to the tour was of course a visit to the Village Deli to grab some subs with that fantastic new bread they’ve got.  I didn’t see Gus today, but the Deli was really hummin’ with just about every table filled.  It sounds like we might have another storm affecting the area this coming week, so we’ll certainly be watching that potential over the next few days.

Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry, VT 03FEB2018

An image of a Coyote trail sigh no the Bolton Valley Backcountry Network at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of a Coyote trail sign on the backcountry skiing network at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Following a skin track out in the Bolton Valley backcountry today – the recent snow really started getting the backcountry conditions back on track.

As the forecasts suggested, we’ve moved back in a bit of a snowier weather regime after the past couple weeks of midwinter doldrums.  A system on Thursday ushered in some welcomed snow, with 4.4 inches down here at the house, and 6 to 8 inches at most of the resorts in the northern 2/3 of Vermont.

Today started out quite cold, with temperatures down near 0 F, but it was expected to get warmer throughout the day.  I waited until midafternoon, then headed up to Bolton Valley for a tour to check out how the new snow had settled in.  Temperatures were in the mid to upper teens F when I arrived, and checking the settled depth of the powder at the 2,100’ elevation level, I found it was 4 to 5 inches deep.

An image of an Old Goats trail marker on the backcountry network at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Old Goats: The Bolton Valley Backcountry Network is probably the only place you’re ever going to see a trail marker like this.

Instead of going all way up to Bryant Cabin today, I decided to do a bit of an abbreviated tour.  I headed about halfway of the way up the Bryant Trail, then connected onto Coyote and made my way up to Gotham City.  I saw a nice skin track taking a novel route into the upper reaches of Gotham City, so I followed that for a few minutes and added on some additional vertical.  I topped out close to 2,500’, where the depth of the powder was roughly 6 inches.  The upper reaches of Gotham City that I skied were totally untracked and yielded some excellent turns, and I followed my run out through the usual assortment of glades available throughout the World Cup area.  The turns were excellent on low to moderate angle terrain, with only the occasional contact with the subsurface unless you got into steeper terrain or areas that had seen previous traffic.

A Google Earth map showing GPS tracking data for a ski tour on the backcountry ski network at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
GPS Tracking Data for today’s ski tour on the Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry Network overlayed onto Google Earth

Even that modest storm that we just picked up was all that was really needed to make a huge bump up in the ski conditions, but we’ve got another system on its way tomorrow that should help even more.  We’ll see how this next system plays out, but another several inches on top of what we just picked up will really get things back in midwinter form.

Bolton Valley Nordic and Backcountry, VT 01FEB2014

An image of Ty making a Telemark turn in powder on the "Cup Runneth Over" glade in the backcountry skiing network at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Out for a short tour on Bolton’s Backcountry Network today to get some powder turns with the boys

Down at the house, snow from our current storm was just starting to fall around 3:00 P.M. today when I headed up to Bolton Valley with the boys.  E had headed off to get some work done at school, so it was just the guys at home, and I figured that we should get out and enjoy the snow for a bit.  After getting a closer look at the Cup Runneth Over glade on Sunday, it seemed like a nice, short touring option to try with the boys.

“Skiing in the upper section
of the glade was pleasant.
Even though there were a
number of sets of tracks,
there was still untouched
powder around, and a good
6+ inches of it.”

The temperature was in the mid 30s F at the house, and the flakes that were falling here and there quickly began to intensify into a steady light snow as we headed down the Winooski Valley through Bolton Flats.  Looking out ahead of us toward the west, we could see that that more intense snow was heading our way.  With the marginal valley temperatures with this event, the mountains are expected to do notably better with the snowfall, and indeed that was borne out as we headed up the Bolton Valley Access Road and got into sub-freezing air.  Snow was already accumulating on the road above ~2,000’, and the snowfall was much more intense up in the Village.  The boys quickly covered up with their hoods as we got out of the car and into our gear, because the snowfall would quickly wet you down if you didn’t get yourself under something waterproof.

An image of Dylan holding up one of the Cheeze-It and snow sandwiches he made on our backcountry ski outing at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in VermontLights were starting to come on for the alpine trails, and skier traffic was scant on the Nordic network as we skinned along World Cup and then Bryant.  The boys hardly believed me when I told them that we were in for just a few minutes of climbing before we’d reach the start of our descent.  Indeed that was the case, and we stopped along Bryant at the entry spot I’d seen for the upper section of Cup Runneth Over on Sunday.  We relaxed and hung out along the top of the Glade, enjoying the snowfall and the comfortable temperatures just below freezing.  Dylan immediately dove into his pack for some snacks, and ended up creating sandwiches comprised of Cheez-It® crackers with snow in the middle.  One lone skier passed by us as she made an ascent up Bryant, but, aside from her, all we saw were a couple other Nordic skiers and a guy on snowshoes.  With the fairly late hour, it wasn’t surprising that we didn’t see many people.

Skiing in the upper section of the glade was pleasant.  Even though there were a number of sets of tracks, there was still untouched powder around, and a good 6+ inches of it.  The boys practiced some Telemark turns and stopped down at the intersection with World Cup where the glade starts to dive down a steeper slope.  I began the steeper descent, but after I’d made a couple of turns, the boys asked if they could ski World Cup and work on their Telemark turns; they just weren’t feeling confident enough with their turns to take on the steeper part of the glade, and that was probably a good choice for them because I did find the coverage a bit bony.  They were definitely enamored with the clean, groomed look of World Cup, made all the more enticing with the coating of fresh snow that was approaching an inch by that point.  The boys certainly had a lot of fun on World Cup, trying different variations on their Telemark turns as they pushed around some of the fresh snow.

A GPS map on Google Earth showing data from a ski tour on the Bolton the Nordic & Backcountry trail network at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
The GPS tracking data from today’s short tour with the boys plotted on Google Earth

Once we were back at the car, I decided that boys could get a snack at the Bolton Valley Deli & Grocery, and we ended up also grabbing a couple of pizzas at Fireside Flatbread to take home for dinner.  I’ve wanted to make use of having the pizza right there in the lodge for a while now at the end of one of these evening tours, and today it worked out perfectly.  We had it in hand in roughly 10 minutes, so the guys at the oven were right on top of it.

We headed down from the mountain around 5:30 P.M., and roughly an inch of new snow seemed to be the total at that point, with continued moderate snowfall.  This is a storm where areas farther north are expected to get more snow, so we’ll have to see how Stowe does overnight, but there could be some nice skiing tomorrow if the snow keeps up for a while.  And the pizza from Fireside Flatbread was excellent as usual – their crust is one of my favorites anywhere.