By Amy PatenaudeSki/Outdoor Writer
Our friends on the other side of the Connecticut River have a lot of nice ski areas too. Killington Resort and Okemo Mountain Resort are worth the extra drive and especially when they treat New Hampshirites like locals.
When one of my friends asked me if I wanted to go to Killington with him I jumped. The snow conditions were the best—packed powder everywhere and they reported 154 out of 155 trails open. The upcoming weekend forecast had that ugly “R” word and I rationalized I should go get it while the getting was good.
Killington offers $58 dollar lift tickets to Vermont and New Hampshire residents on Tuesdays and Wednesdays but not during holiday weeks. I handed my driver’s license over the counter with my money. The sales clerk handed me a lift ticket and she reminded me that Tuesdays are New Hampshire days too and to come back again soon.
I met Jeremy at the K-1 Lodge and booted up and we made it to the lift line at 9 am just as they started loading the gondola with eager skiers and snowboarders.
On the ride up I knew it was going to be a great day. The sun was shining and the snow sparkled on the trees and slopes. Best of all there was little to no wind and the temperature was in the double digits and rising.
On top of the mountain I was wowed by the view. I have skied Killington dozens of times but I realized this was the first time I had ever been here when the vista was crystal clear. All over Killington Peak I could see fabulous mountain vistas. I could see so much more than Vermont’s peaks the Adirondacks in New York and New Hampshire’s White Mountains starring Mount Washington could all be clearly seen by the naked eye.
We skied and skied. I think we were on a mission to ski every trail on the mountain. The cold packed powder snow was dreamy. Killington Resort’s trails connect their six peaks. We skied a few top to bottom runs back to the gondola and then more runs on Bear Mountain and Skye Peak before heading over to Snowdon Mountain and Ramshead Mountain.
People were skiing and riding and dropping into the trees off of the trails on Snowdon and Ramshead.
This was the nicest day I have ever had at Killington. I have skied here dozens of times but mostly for early or late season when not every trail was open.
At the Ramshead Lodge we stopped for lunch at 11:30. I had the burger special with lots of bacon and cheese and Jeremy had chicken tenders and fries and of course hot chocolate too.
We continued our mission covering as many trails as possible. We even skied down to Route 4 and rode the Skyeship Express Gondola back up to the top of Skye Peak. That was a first for me.
Just after 2 pm we took a short break right at the top of the mountain in the Killington Peak Lodge. We had a drink and my legs sure appreciated a little rest. Jeremy was more eager to get back out.
Superstar never skied sweeter. The trail is covered in deep snow and it will last long into the spring and maybe into summer at the rate this winter is going.
I can recall our last run because it is the trail I have skied the most in early season, Double-dipper to Cascade down to the K-1 Lodge. The lifts closed at 4 pm and we finished at 4:05. The skiing had been so good that I didn’t want to stop but my legs were glad the lifts were closed.
Jeremy tracked our day, we made 25 runs and skied 30,800 vertical feet. I was surprised at our total but on second thought there was a reason I was worn out.
Okemo Mountain Resort offers a special for Vermont and New Hampshire residents, Wonderful Wednesdays, non-holiday, all day for just $45 (plus $5 if you don’t already have their RFID card).
The three of us had planned to go skiing together over a month ago. When I woke up it was snowing. We were going to go to a resort 3 hours away but after a few messages back and forth we decided we would still go skiing but we’d stay to closer to home. Okemo Mountain had been on our short list of places we wanted to ski together this season and it was less than an hour and a half away.
I picked up Kris and Sharon in New London and we were on our way. The snow fell lightly, the roads were okay and traffic moved along at a reasonable speed.
Sharon is a good luck charm. Every time I ski with her it snows!
Kris skis Okemo often and knows her way around. She suggested that we start from the Jackson Gore base area.
Mid-week skiing is less crowded but a mid-week morning during a snowstorm makes it feel like you own the place. During a snowstorm it takes a while longer for people to show up. The only time all day we waited in a short lift line was after lunch at the Sunburst 6-pack.
We took the lift from the base and worked our way over to the Quantum Four-bubble chair that carried us to the top of Jackson-Gore Peak. While most everyone else scurried off to Okemo Peak we skied Jack Gore’s trails and made fresh tracks for a half a dozen runs in a row.
Down Limelight, White Lightning and Rolling Thunder we let our skis glide through the fresh snow. Kris thought the snow was like silk. I thought it was like butter. Our skis just glided and we floated while we made easy turns.
We cruised over to the main mountain and the tracked out snow was still cold and fluffy. We skied World Cup and took a run through their terrain park but we stayed clear of the jumps and features.
At the Summit Lodge we had lunch. Hot homemade chicken soup, grilled cheese sandwiches and a fresh made Rice Crispy square hit the spot. Of course we had hot chocolate too.
The snow continued to fall and for the views we were lucky to be able to see the buildings down below at the base. When we were on Okemo Peak we could barely see the top of the fire tower.
Okemo has made a great amount of snow and with the four or five inches of new fluff on top the only evidence we had that there was a big thaw a week ago is that the glades were not open. The snow was great and worthy of the accolades they receive for their snowmaking and grooming.
We had a fun day making lots of runs and enjoying the chairlift rides together.
On the way home we stopped at the famous Singleton’s General Store in Proctorsville, Vermont. It is truly one of those stores where if they don’t have it you don’t need it. Between the three of us we bought a pair of pants, a shirt, smoked sausage and we admired the pink Smith & Wesson 380 displayed behind the gun case glass.
Amy Patenaude is an avid skier/outdoor enthusiast from Henniker, N.H. Readers are welcome to send comments or suggestions to her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.