Mountain Biking Update

9 July 2016

Recently, I finished a six week Mountain Bike Clinic through Four Points Vermont.  In a class of 10 riders with two instructors led by our business to business partner and friend and owner of Four Points Vermont, Rick Sokoloff, I have discovered a new way to enjoy the mountains of Vermont.  In each of the classes we typically spent an hour or more in the field going over the fundamentals of this sport followed up by a hour plus of riding beginner to intermediate double and single track trails.  As Rick put it, he was working with us to “create a solid foundation that is reinforced through several skills that we will then have in our ‘tool box’ to safely and fully enjoy mountain biking.”  As with so many things like this, taking lessons to understand the fundamentals of the sport is critically essential to a., doing it safely, and b., giving yourself a real chance to enjoy it.

Ok, full disclosure, I was a bit anxious to take on this sport that is probably more embraced by those in their mid twenties versus those of us in our ummm, mid fifties (and taking this up at this stage of my life).  But, thanks to Rick and his assistant Shelley, I am truly hooked and hopelessly addicted to this sport of mountain biking.

This past Wednesday morning I ventured into what most would consider some real mountain bike terrain here in Stowe; Cady Hill Forest.  I have driven past the parking lot/trail head for this area numerous times and always wondered what it would be like to actually ride there as the trail I see from the road seems to just disappear among the trees and dense foliage.  Well, I can honestly report, it was the most fun combined with the most intense work out I have probably ever experienced since my days of youth when I used to run road races from 10K to full marathons.  I realized quickly that I had not huffed and puffed so much since those running days and also realized I need to do this more to make sure I can continue to experience the outdoor wonders of Vermont directly and personally.

Unlike downhill skiing, which if you follow us on FB, realize is probably our favorite winter sport, in mountain biking you definitely have to earn your downhill rides.  Now, with that said, I know there are some smart ski resorts here in Vermont and elsewhere that can provide you a lift to the top of the mountains with handy racks on the back of ski lifts.  I’m sure that I would love that assistance against the laws of gravity to quickly transport me to the top myself, but, I mostly realize, I can and will certainly benefit from the healthy work out needed to find myself gliding down a pathway through the woods that’s not much wider than my handlebars.  The downhills are so nice, especially when earned.

I just can’t adequately explain the joy and the feeling of riding through the woods.  And as there are so many levels of terrain (similar to downhill skiing) you can enjoy this sport whether you’re an adrenaline seeker bent on finding the most technically challenging terrain to someone that is just looking for a way to get off the busy roads and really check out the back roads and bike trails that seem to disappear into the woods!

If we can help in any way to introduce you to mountain biking please let us know and please note that we have several stay and ride packages for the beginner through advanced via the intense single day, private lessons to weekend (two day) clinics on our reservation page.

See you outside,

George

Spring is a Great Time to Explore Stowe

9 May 2016

The skis, snowshoes, snow shovels and winter gear have all been put away.  We took our last turns on Mt. Mansfield at the Stowe Mountain Resort on the last Sunday in April followed up with a great tailgate party with friends to celebrate the passing of winter and the full onset of spring.  The bikes have now been tuned up with tires inflated back up to optimum road/trail pressure.

We have begun to turn some dirt preparing our garden beds for the summer season.  The daffodils are now in full bloom and the tulips that we snuck into the ground before the hard freeze of last November are just about ready to break open in bloom.  Pansies have been added to the window boxes adding some welcomed color to the front of the Inn.  Vegetable seeds will go into the freshly turned soil by this coming weekend.  We have to be careful, though, and not get too far ahead of mother nature as our last frost can and has come as late as Memorial Day Weekend.

We do truly enjoy our four distinct seasons here in Vermont.  We feel a bittersweet sense of loss with the passing of the winter season though we are more than encouraged by the signs of spring as his new season upon us brings a whole new set of opportunities to get outside.  While spring is typically a quiet time here in Vermont the secret of all that there is to do and see here in this follow up season is quickly becoming a secret that is being spread far and wide as though dandelion seeds of the season.

Mountain Biking is our new sport to explore this spring/summer.  George is taking a six week Skills Clinic through our friends at Four Points Mountain Bike School and Guide Service.  He is very excited to check out our mountain trails from the seat of a bike versus the hiking boots on the ground.  We are so fortunate to have the Stowe Mountain Bike Club here for outdoor recreation development and advocacy for mountain biking in our community.

And we have readied the Inn to be bike friendly with an outside, bike, hose off wash station, dry/secure storage areas within the Inn, and lots of maps and recommendations for rides from a light stroll along the 5.5 mile rec. path to the wide variety of terrain options in places such as Cady Hill Forest.

So, pack your bags and your bikes (or rent here) and join us as we get outside and enjoy life.

George and Mary Anne

Mid-Winter Report from Stowe, 2/2/16

4 February 2016

What an interesting winter this 2015/2016 has been so far in Stowe, Vermont.  Guests who have stayed with us this season can certainly attest to the typical and atypical weather patterns we have experienced so far.

Even as late as Christmas Eve, I was golfing.  We hit a record high of 68 degrees that day and with a full blue sky and sunshine the greens of the golf course were just too inviting to pass up.  While we typically expect to be shoveling snow and hitting the slopes this record warmth had me reaching for the summer outdoor gear.

Within a week of that event we had a full blanket of snow on the ground, thanks to an 8” snowfall, something that is much more indicative of that point on the calendar here in Stowe.  And while so far this season we have missed out on a “real snowstorm,” and had serious snow envy for those who experienced the Blizzard of 2016 on the Mid-Atlantic coast, we still have had some truly amazing ski days on the mountain.  With the help of modern day snow-making technology and the hard work of the snow-making crew at Stowe Mountain Resort they have saved this season from what many who may be tracking our weather forecasts from afar would assume to be an abysmal ski season into a true Vermont winter experience.

At the risk of sounding like your local Chamber of Commerce and putting the best spin on things we truly have had some really wonderful ski days so far this season.  Yesterday, for example, we had a great spring skiing conditions, buttery snow, warm temperatures and no lift lines.  Bonus day for sure!  Granted, we have the luxury of waiting things out for a day of rain (way too many of those this season/year) or very windy and below zero temperatures and hit the slopes the following day or two.  And yes, our Innkeeper ski days are a bit behind where they typically are at this time of year though some of that is due to our business needs (we are planning some major building improvements – more on that in follow up blogs) and of course some not so perfect weather conditions.

Throughout all of this winter season we know our guests have been making the most of their time here.  Our incredible selection of restaurants, breweries, other Vermont local attractions in harmony with other outdoor adventures/pursuits have made for some lively discussions around the fireplace each evening.

We continue to do our snow dances as we know there is still plenty of winter left in the Green Mountain State.  Call us and we can fill you in on the real time conditions.

See you outside,

George

Welcome Back Winter!

2 December 2015

While others may lament the onset of, what has for us, always proven to be a wonderful winter season, we, of course, are looking forward to the next change in scenery and activities!  Winter in Vermont is celebrated by locals and those fortunate to travel here for all the reasons you might think and may not.  And while we are known as the skiing/riding capital of the east, you may be surprised to know that more than half of our guests come here in the winter for something other than this signature activity of alpine skiing/snowboarding in Stowe.

Many of our guests love and seek us out for the scenic beauty of our winter wonderland.  Certainly a scene on par with those of Vermont’s fall foliage or summer hiking scenes from the top of Mt. Mansfield.  Many of our guests have told to us that there is just something so calming and peaceful with watching a snowfall from the warmth of our living room next to the wood stove, a good book in one hand and perhaps a glass of hearty Cabernet in the other.  Or, other outdoor activities that may not get quite the same marketing exposure as alpine skiing/riding but no less enjoyable such as; snowshoeing, snowmobiling, dog sledding, cross-country skiing or perhaps catching a sleigh ride through the valley floor of Mt. Mansfield.

Ski Magazine recently listed Stowe and Stowe Mountain Resort as the #2 ranked ski destination.  Of course we think we are #1 (leaving that for another discussion) but what the writer of the Ski Magazine noted as a significant reason for our high ranking beyond just the incredible skiing and riding is our unique and truly special collection of restaurants both on and off the mountain.  We are so lucky to have so many high quality, mostly family owned/operated restaurants, in Stowe.  Only challenge you should have, confirming which restaurant/pub to try out this trip!

Check out our winter specials that yes, include several ski/ride and stay deals but also lots of other unique discount packages that will get you reaching for your calendar to confirm when you can get up here.  Another season is upon us, don’t get caught being too busy to take some time for yourself and get out here and enjoy our little corner of paradise.

See you outside!

George and Mary Anne

Sugar on Snow

22 March 2015

Ok, as much as we love our winter activities we also embrace the upcoming Mud Season (more on that in a follow up blog) and the opportunity to celebrate the passing seasons, winter to spring with the traditional “Sugar on Snow.”

What?  Sugar on snow?  As you may know, Vermont is the single largest producer of maple syrup in the U.S.  “Sugar on snow” is a delicacy here in Vermont found this time of year at many sugar houses (where they produce the maple syrup).  Essentially this dish is made by drizzling hot maple syrup over a bowl of snow.  The syrup congeals and hardens to create a crystallized treat.  That’s right and to complete the tableaux the traditional Vermonters will have this sugar on snow with a donut and finish it off with a dill pickle. 

The coming weekend, March 28, 29 is the official Maple Sugar Festival celebrated all over Vermont.  There is a wonderful weekend celebration planned at our friends at Boyden Valley Winery just up the road from here.  More info: http://www.boydenvalley.com/maplesugarfestival.html and http://vermontmaple.org/events .

The Boyden family has been making Vermont maple syrup for five generations in the picturesque Lamoille River Valley using a traditional wood-fired evaporator with sap collected from over 300 acres of maple trees located on their farm.  Did you know it takes 40 gallons of Maple tree sap to produce 1 gallon of maple syrup?  Vermont farms produced approximately 1.3 million gallons of maple syrup in 2014.

There is typically only a week or two where the sap runs and the optimal conditions permit the process of sugaring to occur.  The sap from maple trees flows when the trees experience an abundance of sunshine (reawakening the growing season) with temperatures below freezing at night and daytime temperatures above freezing during the day.

The whole process of how we get local maple syrup to our breakfast table from those amazing maple trees is best described at the sugar house.  There you will find the true Vermont sense of tradition of producing high quality, all natural, maple syrup, nothing added, ever.

If you have never experienced sugar on snow you need to add it to the list of things to experience here in the Stowe area and of course we hope you will consider the Brass Lantern Inn as your home base, independent of the season at hand.

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