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by Paul Maraschiello

In the morning we headed north to Stowe. This legendary ski area is very big and gets a lot of natural snow. Stowe has been ranked as the # 1 ski resort in eastern North America by Ski and Skiing magazines many times. Located in a picturesque little town with a true Vermont ambiance, it has a wide array of top-quality accommodations for every taste and budget. You can stay slopeside, find accommodations at one of the many lodges on the access road or opt for a charming bed and breakfast in town.

We rode the high-speed quad behind the base lodge to the top of the mountain and started down the hill. We took Hayride to the crossover because I wanted to ski over to the gondola. I knew from experience that there would be some great skiing on that part of the mountain. I was not disappointed, the skiing was great. According to a guy I rode up the gondola with, they had gotten 3 to 4 inches of snow every night for the past three nights. They had quite a few trails open and I was excited to sample what they had to offer. Stowe did not disappoint me. When I got off the lift, I explored the trails to the left. There were small moguls on Gondolier and as I descended, I encountered more moguls on Chinclip. I was on my Elans and they really liked the bumps. I explored all the trails to the right and left of the gondola and had fun playing in the bumps. I came down Perry Merrill and then came down Gondolier the entire way under the gondola. I went in for lunch at the restaurant just below the gondola and was out on the mountain in a short time.

It was starting to get a little icy, so after one run under the gondola, I headed over to the ski shop to purchase a file to sharpen my skis. After touching up my skis, I rode up the chair lift. I noticed a little sigh that warned of thin cover but didn't think anything of it. After getting off and starting down the mountain, I saw what the sigh was referring to . . . rock and bare spots on North Slope. I decided to go back to the gondola and spent the rest of the day skiing Chinclip and Perry Merrill and Gondolier. I could fly from top to bottom in a few minutes. Things were getting skied off and I took a couple of falls on the ice.

By 3:30, I was tired and headed to the base lodge. There was a great band playing Zydaco music, their name was Mango Jam. I really enjoyed their performance. There was a 2000K disaster in the lodge. The electricity went out and we were without lights and a sound system. That didn't seem to bother most of the skiers . . . the disaster did not affect the beer supply.

At Stowe, you can ski Vermont's tallest peak, Mt. Mansfield, ski 47 trails and ride the gondola or one of the 11 other lifts which offers access to a wide range of beginner, intermediate and expert terrain. On the slopes and trails, there are always many choices. Stowe is in the habit of letting one side of the slope bump up and they groom the other side so you can "bail out" if things get too outrageous.

Quad chairlifts service most of the trails and lift line waits are at a minimum. Whether you prefer groomed novice or intermediate trails, or steep trails with bumps, Stowe has it all. They have an excellent ski school under the direction of top nationally ranked ski and snowboard instructors. If you stay for only a day or a week, you'll have a great time at Stowe.