Stowe Area Association
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Winter – Bring it on!

November 30, 2015
Submitted by Tom Jackman, Town of Stowe, VT

I’ve been waiting for the snow to fall. I’ve been waiting for the snow to fall.
I’ve been waiting for the snow to fall and cover us all.
I’ve been waiting for the snow to fall.

- Lyrics by The String Cheese Incident

It’s getting to be that time of the year when many us who live in Vermont are having snow dreams nearly every night; checking the weather forecast every day for any hint of a flake; and dusting off and gazing longingly at our skis and snowboards.

Vermont clearly has 6 separate seasons: winter, spring, summer, fall, mud season and stick season. Right now, nearing the end of November, we’re smack dab in the middle of stick season. November is often the cloudiest and dreariest month of the year around here. Along with the sudden shock of it getting dark at 4:30 when Daylight Savings Time ends, November is the time of the year when many Vermonters start getting surly and mopey with a case of the Stick Season Blues. Fortunately, this November has been kinder with the sunshine than usual, but the lack of early season snow so far has us getting a bit twitchy.

Usually by the end of October, a few diehards have hiked to the top of Mt. Mansfield to ski on a combination of 3” of snow and wet grass at the top third of the mountain. For most avid Nordic skiers, the first ski of the season is often up the closed Rte. 108 highway into Smugglers’ Notch. There’s nothing like that first early ski of the season to temporarily uplift our stick season spirits. Once winter really kicks in, usually around mid-December, we all feel a sense of deep relief and all is right with the world again. At least until mud season.

The Northern Green Mountains, which parallel the Byway, are often blessed with skiable natural snow when the rest of New England is dry. Even though we miss out on a number of Nor’easters that hit too far south, we benefit from a steady light accumulation of lake-effect snow from Lake Ontario to the west and Lake Huron to the northwest. Moist air travels hundreds of miles, hits the Northern Greens, rises up and the mountains squeeze out light, fluffy powder that is often referred to as “champagne powder”. It’s this phenomenon that has caused backcountry skiers around New England to refer to northern Vermont as Vtah (as in Utah).

With hundreds of miles of backcountry ski trails, a world-class downhill ski resort and a hundred miles of groomed Nordic trails, most of us never venture beyond a 30-mile radius of our homes during the winter and we love to have visitors!

Ski, ski, ski!