Get Psyched With a Winter Hike
We're in pre-season purgatory right now, that time when few resorts are open, but you can feel that first lift ride can't be too far away (for many resorts it's Thanksgiving weekend). It's a practice of patience, and it's a good time to do all that pre-season stuff you promised yourself you'd do at the end of last year but didn't: get your skis/board tuned, check your gear for hole and waterproofing, evaluate whether it's time for a new helmet.
It's also a perfect time for an on-mountain hike! My friends and I hiked up the walking trails at Mad River Glen last weekend and it was an awesome way to get psyched for the 2015-16 season. We brought lots of layers, Hot Hands, water, food, and coffee keeping warm in a thermos. We brought leashed, treats, and blaze orange jackets and collars for the dogs--it's deer rifle season in Vermont right now and you can't be too safe.
The weather was warm enough at the base of the mountain, with the snow cover varied in texture and sparse in quantity. But not before long, we were walking through 6 inches of snow, and the snow just kept accumulating the higher on the mountain we got. It was absolutely beautiful snow--light, fluffy powder, the kind that makes you giddy--and it clung to the trees, gently weighing down their boughs.
On mountain we saw other hikers and skinners, and a half dozen or so people taking turns down the mountain. When we got to the top, we ducked into the shelter and warmed up, ate some snacks, and rehydrated (it's easy to forget to drink water when the temps are low). We noticed the sun was getting fairly low in the sky, and it was time to get back down to the cars. We talked about our plans for the upcoming season, who got a pass where, when we'd rent a ski house in another part of the state, and traded bits of information about what's new at Vermont's incredible ski areas.
The hike wasn't just a wonderful way to get excited about the ski season, it also was good for our bodies. We used our core, quads and calves, muscles that need to stay in shape for opening day. And you can't beat the cardio and endurance conditioning either, which no doubt helps keep you going on those long and hard-charging days.
Check your favorite resort's website or give them a call for information about pre-season hiking. Mad River Glen for example has signs and paper trail maps, so we felt confident about our trek. You want to make sure hiking is allowed where and when you are going, and that you won't encounter any potentially dangerous grooming equipment.
We're that much closer to skiing and riding this year ... see you on the trail!
By Sky Barsch. Sky is a writer and editor in Montpelier, Vt. Her passions are mountains, trails, traveling and food, plus her adorable powderhound, Siena.