SUNNY THEN BITTER COLD AT SUGARBUSH

by Paul Maraschiello

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It was almost a perfect day at Sugarbush. The sun was shining and the temperature was cold, but not too cold. It had all the makings of a perfect day and I was psyched. Sugarbush has become one of my favorite mountains. It has two main ski areas (Sugarbush North and South) with six mountains and more than 100 trails. There are over 54 miles of trails and the mountain has a 2,650' vertical drop with a 4,135' peak elevation and 1,485' base elevation. There are a total of 18 lifts that include 7 Quads, 3 Triples, 4 Doubles and 4 Surface. There are 43 expert trails, 39 intermediate trails and 18 novice trails. There is too much to ski at Sugarbush in one weekend but I know the trails that I like.



I parked my rental car and walked to the main lodge. The first change I noticed was that the snowboard shop on the ground floor of the lodge had been replaced by a children's learning center. I changed into my ski boots and chatted with a couple of attractive women in the lodge and then I headed to the slopes.



I rode up the Super Bravo Chair and enjoyed the view of Stein's Run and other great views from the chair. When I got off, I began to systematically explore the trails. I warmed up on Domino which was fast but easy to hold an edge. I brought my Volkl P50 skis which are a stiff giant slalom ski, so I had no problems. As it is still early in the season for me, I took it easy and hit all the cruisers that run off the Super Bravo chair. I had a good morning making big GS turns on groomed slopes, spending most of my time on blue trails speeding down the slopes and enjoying the spectacular views.



For lunch, I stopped into the Tole House and had a delicious Chicken Caesar Salad in the bar. The food was good and the service was excellent.



After lunch, I took a ride up the Heaven's Gate Chair and took a run down the black diamond trail, Organgrinder. Then I decided to do a few bumps and hit Paradise, a double black diamond bump run. I did OK in the bumps for my first mogul run on the year.



I went back to the Super Bravo Chair and did a few more cruisers, including Snowball and Spring Fling. I took a couple of runs down Murphy's Glade and found that it too, was in excellent shape.



After a day of skiing, I headed to the Sugar Lodge where I was staying. This is classic mountain lodge less than 1/2 mile from the Sugarbush Ski Area on the access road. The Lodge has moderate rates ($79-$115). They offer the amenities you would expect from a larger hotel with the ambiance and warmth of a Vermont Country Inn. They have a really great stone fireplace in the main lounge which is decorated with comfortable easy chairs and couches. My room was very comfortable and had cable TV. That morning I had the complementary continental breakfast which was served in the bar and the coffee was good and strong, and the muffins were tasty. They have an outdoor hot tub and swimming pool that some of the guests took advantage of but I just hit the shower and then headed out for a little happy hour R&R.



I spent happy hour at the Hyde Away, located almost on the junction of the Sugarbush North access road and Rt. 17. It's small and it was backed. After wetting my whistle, I went to the Den located at the junction of Rt. 17 and Rt. 100 for dinner. They have the best fried oysters I have ever tasted on the menu as an appetizer and the prime rib was the special that night was delicious.



At the end of the evening, I went to the Blue Tooth, the local nightspot on the Sugarbush access road and enjoyed a few beers and some live music.



The next day, I once again sampled the complementary continental breakfast at the Sugar Lodge and drove up to the lodge.



It was bitter cold that day. It was very windy which made it feel like it was below zero. Luckily, I was prepared. I had brought my down vest and was glad that I had it. I may have looked like a four-year-old whose mother had dressed him up to play in the snow but I was warm.



I did runs on couple of wind-blown cruisers and then decided to take a run under the snow guns on Domino. Where they were making snow, the surface was buttery. I thought it was an even trade off because the snow guns weren't too bad and the snow under the guns was great. I skied over the Castle Rock and did a bump run down Middle Earth. I went in for a cup of hot chocolate and warmed up my toes.



After my mid-morning break, I decided to check out the trails on North Lynx Peak. I rode up the two chairs and wound up skiing the bumps on the black diamond trail, Sunrise with a beautiful blond woman. Next I took a run down Birch Run and then went in for lunch. I found an empty stool at the bar in the main base lounge and enjoyed an excellent bowel of chili washed down by a beer that really tasted good after a morning of hard skiing.



I went back to the Super Bravo chair and did Murphy's Glade, and a few cruisers. The trails were really getting skied off and I was starting to see blue ice. The wind had blown off most of the loose snow and the light was beginning to get flat. I called it a day and drove back to Manchester, N.H. where I caught a plane back home.



All in all, it was an excellent visit to Sugarbush. I had a great time skiing and stayed in a really nice ski lodge. All the meals I had on and off the mountain were very good and I am looking forward to my next trip to this part of scenic Vermont.

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