Six Days, Three Mountains: Vermont 2013

Every year, we make our way to the big mountains of the north like a pilgrimage to a holy land.  We kneel at the alter of the snow gods, praying for their mercy in the form of fresh snow and blissful conditions.

This year, we made our trek to Okemo, Stowe, and Jay Peak.  Going to the mountains and disconnecting from reality is possibly one of my favorite things to do in the wintertime.  Mountain Meditation.  Time to breath in the fresh air, forget about next Wednesday’s deadline, leave the tech world behind and listen.  Listen to the wind blow.  Listen to the trees creak.  Listen to the snow underneath the edges of a freshly waxed board.  It’s like classical music.  It heighten’s the senses.  It’s the perfect connection of man and nature.

Okemo

Where am I?

Where am I?

In the southern stretches of Vermont, first on our trip, Okemo welcomed us with open arms.  We arrive at the mountain, among the first in line.  The air is clear and the parking lot is still half empty.  About three flights of stairs above the parking lot sits the base lodge lift, barely visible from the stairs of the base lodge itself.  Overcast?  More like under siege.

Breathtaking

Breathtaking

At 3,343 feet above sea level, Okemo has 2,198 feet of vertical drop.  Apparently, the cloud couldn’t quite make the trek.  Upon emerging from the cloud, a spectacular view was revealed.  The distance was bathed in white, with subtle undulations where the clouds blanketed the tops of the lesser mountains surrounding us.  The greater peaks emerged like majestic islands in a sea of white; the clouds battering their fortified shores.

The Karst.  Photo cred: Nick Dicton

The Karst. Photo cred: Nick Dicton

Beckoning us below

The undulations became more pronounced, suctioned to the tops of the smaller peaks.  Flowing.  Dipping. Sinking.  Rising.  Like lingerie over a karst landscape, hinting to the hidden treasures below… beckoning us with their hypnotic allure.  We followed.

Exploring off the piste

Exploring off the piste

Mountain meditation would be incomplete without a trip into the trees.  Okemo’s bevy of natural snow was almost as sweet as the view itself.  We drank the sunshine, we ate the headwalls.  We lived.

Jay Peak

Polar opposite of Okemo, at the northern end of Vermont awaited Jay Peak.  We made our way through the spooky Vermont highways and back roads, enveloped with trees.  If not for the occasional road sign, one could be fooled into thinking that they were merely on a treadmill, under guise of some cruel trick at the hands of a sardonic deity.

Aerial Tram, Jay Peak

Aerial Tram, Jay Peak

Location wasn’t the only polar opposite from Okemo to Jay Peak.  Arriving at the lodge, we were greeted with ripping winds.  This time, the overcast was entirely overhead, no such gifted breakthroughs would be given today.  Still, we crammed aboard the Aerial Tram, with 60 other passengers (give or take) and headed to the peak.

The winds howled.  The tram swayed side to side, creaking like an old house in the night.  I looked down at the 100 foot drop below.  Without control.

photo cred: Nick Dicton

photo cred: Nick Dicton

At 3,968 feet above sea level, Jay Peak offers 2,153 feet of vertical drop.  Steep runs were made more challenging by the sparse covering of the base.  Dodge a rock here, jump a patch of dead grass there.  You make the best of it, or It makes the best of you.

Below Jay

Below Jay

Though the conditions weren’t perfect, neither are we, so we manage.  Days like this are a challenge to endure.  The wind cuts through you as if composed of tiny razorblades.  You better pump those legs on the way down, boy, and get warm.  Cuz the lift ride up is licking it’s lips in anticipation of your pulsing carcass.

Are you Pro-pig?  Photo cred: Nick Dicton

Are you Pro-pig? Photo cred: Nick Dicton

Enduring a day like that deserves the spoils of war.  And Prohibition Pig offered it in spades.  I came hungry, I left fully immobilized, half asleep, and kind of sad that it was over.  And by god is that a good thing. A testament to the overwhelmingly delicious and seductive foods of the pro pig.  I can’t recall the last time I’ve been so satisfied… from a dinner alone.

Stowe

Below StoweWe forged onward on our spiritual journey of gnar, and the next day we found ourselves under broken clouds on the trails of Stowe.  At 4,396 feet above sea level, Stowe offers 2,362 feet of vertical drop, the biggest mountain of our trip.  Standing at the feet of this majestic mountain left me feeling a bit insignificant.  Ahhh, perspective.

Stowe topTrails cut into the mountain side like scratches down the back of a recovering sex addict.  It’s existence based solely on your pleasure.  Just one look makes my pulse race.  The sky opens, if only for a moment.

Hello, sunshine

Hello, sunshine

Hit me baby one more time

Hit me baby one more time

The sky opens up after all, and the sun kisses our rosy, wind battered cheeks.  It’s time to hit the park.  Beauty is found in lines flowing from jump to jump, rail to rail, headwall to halfpipe, and we soak it in like an alcoholic in a brewery.  Addiction comes in many forms.

The Long Goodbye

Alchemist's gift to the world

Alchemist’s gift to the world

We make sure to grab some Heady Topper from The Alchemist Brewery on the way back.  This is quite possibly the world’s best IPA.

A parting gift.  Photo Cred: Nick Dicton

A parting gift. Photo Cred: Nick Dicton

With every good thing, must come an end.  We part ways and leave a present for one of the remaining riders.  That should keep them busy a while.  Our nine hour drive awaits.  Goodbye, Vermont.  Until next time…

~~~

If you liked this post, make sure to follow me for future updates!  In the meantime, get shredding!

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