‘Boarder Reboot – Part 2

Day Tripper brings you the information and inspiration you need to get out locally. Families, culture-seekers, adventurers, and thrill junkies will all find something worth hitting the road for– mountains, museums, parks, casinos, breweries and vineyards– and always within a day’s travel of home. So open your door. It’s time to explore.

For those who missed ‘Boarder Reboot – Part 1:

I lived in south for the last 3.5 winters. Having adapted to the muggy, sweltering climes of North Central Florida, I expected a rude awaken upon returning north. In anticipation of this shock to the system, I also wanted to take advantage of the winter activities that weren’t available in Gainesville, FL. With that, I conjured my adolescent X-Games roots and dug my snowboard from the basement.

There are plenty of ski areas around given how cold it’s been lately. Willard Mountain it just across the river in Easton and West Mountain 45 minutes up the Northway. However, I opted to go the Vermont route for the past two weekends hitting Pico Mountain and neighboring Killington Ski Resort. This week we take a look at the latter.

Day Tripper: Killington Ski Resort, Killington, VT
Distance: 94 miles
Setting: Green Mountains

(L-R) Elisa Amaral of NYC, Nick Berardo of Boston, Myself from the Paper City, and Danica Ehmann of the Collar City (Image Courtesy: Nick Berardo)

Where we last left our hero, he was lying face down on the slopes of Pico Mountain. I returned to snowboarding after a 6-year hiatus. It was hoped that the outing at the modestly-sized Pico would serve as a suitable warm-up for a long-planned trip to Killington Ski Resort: the aptly-named “Beast of the East.”

Around the corner (3.5 miles) from Pico, Killington is the largest ski area by acreage in the Eastern United States. Its vertical drop of 3,050 feet is the 2nd highest in the east behind only New York’s Whiteface Mountain. Needless to say, I was in the big leagues of ski resorts.

Before hitting the mountain, I arranged to spend the night at a friend’s house on Lake Saint Catherine, Vermont. Just across the border from Granville, NY, Lake Saint Catherine is about 55 miles from Mechanicville. It was a small reunion with some college friends Lake Saint Catherine’s relative proximity to Killington (44 miles) made it pretty ideal for travel purposes.

View of morning on Lake Saint Catherine

The lake house, while somewhat difficult to reach in snowy conditions, was remarkable in its charm and impressive views of the lake beneath the Greens to the east. Wells, VT, the closest town, is quaint in its own right complete with the necessities for the secluded lakeside lifestyle.

I highly recommend looking into weekend rentals on Lake Saint Catherine if you’re planning on visiting that part of the Green Mountains and seeking peaceful, rejuvenating seclusion. But four-wheel drive is recommended, unless of course you have a tank-like 2009 Ford Focus like I do.

With my crew of college friends assembled from Troy, Boston, and NYC, we headed up to the mountain mid-morning on a Saturday. Despite my day of prep at Pico the week prior, I would yet again be the most novice member of the group.

The resort is indeed massive with four base lodges and another partially up the mountain. There are a total of 22 lifts and 2 gondolas to cover its 141 runs. Six peaks adorn the sprawling Killington Ski Resort, leaving plenty of room for all ability levels to be served.

Days/Hours: Open daily from early Nov. to late April. 9am-4pm. Extended hours on peak days and potentially in March and April.
1-day lift ticket (adult): $88 on weekends and peak days. $80 on midweek days.

Truth be told, I was feeling pretty confident going up the first chair lift. With a day of riding under my belt in 2013 and my equipment in order, I thought this day would be a return to form. Of course, this was not meant to be.

I went to strap my boots in after dismounting the chairlift successful. Crack! There goes my front left binding. I can probably manage, it’s okay. Crack! There goes the front right. Limiting my already limited snowboarding skills, my bindings added insult to injury.

While my fate for the day had been sealed before it began, that didn’t take away from the options and quality offered by Killington.

The views, especially from the gondola up to the peak, are utterly spectacular. While it was a pretty crowded Saturday, the sheer multitude of trails usually kept overcrowding on the runs to a minimum. Ice was really only an issue on the black diamond trails as Killington was at the end of a seasonably cold streak.

A view eastward from the summit of Killington Peak on a sunny winter’s day.

Another positive feature was riding in the gondola, something I’ve never done before. The difference in taking gondola up compared to the open chair was staggering. The gondola shielded us from the harsh wind and temperatures and left us fresh for a run. The open chair really stripped our energy for the descent.

Meanwhile, I was taking a beating. However, given the $88-lift ticket price I wasn’t about to lose an hour of daylight getting new equipment, though that option was certainly available.

[Note: Keep an eye out for deals in the equipment shop and between Pico and Killington. My lift ticket from Pico from the weekend before cut 25% off the Killington ticket. I also purchased a helmet at Pico the week before during “Helmet Safety Week.” As part of the promotion I received a free Killington or Pico lift ticket (up to $87 in value) for February or March.]

Ultimately, I through up the white flag as my bumps and bruises from Pico were fairly well exacerbated.  A cross-mountain run on a trail called “Great Northern” back to the car was it for me since my cautious riding prevented momentum from carrying me through some flat sections.

We weren’t only in our thirst for the Long Trail Brewery on this ski weekend. Be mindful when planning your trip to the brewery.

From the base of Killington we made the short trip east on US-4 to the Long Trail Brewery 12 miles away in Bridgewater Corners, VT. Named after a 272-mile hiking trail that runs through Vermont, Long Trail is distributed  in New England and extensively throughout Vermont. And yes, it is also distributed by Mechanicville’s own DeCrescente Distributing if you’re wondering.

Unfortunately, we weren’t the only ones with this brilliant idea. After twenty futile minutes of waiting for some of Vermont’s finest craft brews, we gave up and headed back to Lake Saint Catherine to conclude the weekend’s revelry.

After a second reminiscent evening with long lost friends, my two weekend venture back into snowboarding was over. I had rediscovered a great way to spend winter weekends back home. I also was able to spend some time with very patient friends and family who I’m sure take solace in their skiing accolades making the local Mechanicville press.

As I mentioned earlier, I still have a free pass for Killington for the next two months, so don’t be surprised if you see me carving up the slopes. Okay, I suppose carving would actually be surprising.

Lake Saint Catherine from the ice. Haystack Mountain is in the distance.

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