My hotel was located about six miles away from the Smuggler’s Notch ski resort going by way of Highway 108. The state of Vermont closes Highway 108 between Stowe and Smuggler’s Notch during winter. Ergo, it took me about an hour to get there via the great circle route. Not a bad drive, just a little silly.
From the top of Smuggler’s Notch you can see Mt. Mansfield and some of the runs at the Stowe resort 4 miles or 70 minutes away.
So anyway. As a ski resort, Smuggler’s Notch is kind of a locals-oriented place. Not that I didn’t meet plenty of French-Canadian snowboarders, but still, it doesn’t try to be a big destination resort. Which is sort of a good thing. One of its charms, though, is that it only has old-school, slow double chairs:
On the other hand, at least it’s not a single-chair, right? ‘Cuz nowhere would have one of those any more.
The day I was there was warm (50+ degrees) and sunny. Snow conditions ranged from spotty to slushy, though it should be noted that in the continuum that exists in my mind there’s some decent snow between spotty and slushy. Maybe just not a lot of it.
Also, this is the friendliest resort I’ve ever been to. Maybe it was the weather and the fact that the lifts are slow enough that lines develop at them resulting in no one being allowed to go up the lift solo, but whatever: everyone I sat next to on the lift wanted to talk. I met:
- A guy who sold his landscaping business in Massachusetts to move to Vermont and now works for the parks department somewhere.
- A guy who told his boss, who’s from Tennessee, that he shouldn’t bother trying to keep his car clean in the winter and that he better get used to employees coming in late whenever there’s a decent overnight snowfall.
- A woman whose best friend lives in Pittsburgh and who regrets the fact that USAir no longer flies non-stop from BTV to PIT.
- A French-Canadian teenager who has been to more major league ballparks than I have and who takes joy in hating on the Canadiens.
- A guy whose daughter is big into whitewater kayaking and is taking a month-long trip down the Colorado River this month.
- A guy who denigrates Jay Peak (another ski resort) because it’s too close to Canada and, thus, draws too many Canadians (he refers to it as “Eh Peak”). I’m still not sure as to what the appropriate number of Canadians at a ski resort would be.
- Other people.
It was a fun day. Tried skiing in the glades a little bit, which was kind of different. A few of the decent slopes had enough snow on them to go down. The atmosphere was as laid back as I’ve experienced at a ski resort. Cool place I’d be happy to check out again some time.