Saturday, December 15, 2007

An Early Winter in Stowe



Winter has begun right where it left off last spring.
Stowe Mountain Resort opened earlier than anticipated, in the middle of November, when some early season storms blanketed the mountain. By Thanksgiving, most of the trails were open, and with the help of Stowe's incredible snowmaking talents, great bases could be found. No floating boulders up there. Another two-foot snowfall came in early December, followed by several refresher dumps, leading to the opening of most of the cross country ski centers. And now, a massive storm is forecast for the 16th of December, with snow totals conservatively predicted in feet, not inches.
All this early snow is a continuation of last spring, when in April we saw several late season storms that kept the mountain open until the last weekend of that month. The picture at the top of this blog is a picture of me and our friend Trevor (one of the Auberge's frequent fliers, and occasional dinner guest) standing on top of Mt. Mansfield--on the Nose, to be precise. The date was April 22, 2007, and we'd hiked up, had a little lunch, then skied down into the spring warmth. So where's global warming?
It's important here to take the long view. Last December, everyone was in a panic that lasted through Christmas, when we had the first green Christmas ever (for us, in Stowe). The snow didn't fly till the day after Christmas, and the season didn't get wintry till the Valentine's Day storm dumped four feet on us. Thanks to snowmaking, the mountain was skiable, and with cold weather it was even good. But travelers are fickle by nature, and they need to hear the news from the north country that it's snowy.
So let the word go forth, from this time and place, to cross country skier and downhiller alike, that the snow is here, and it is plentiful. Oh, and global warming? Well, one of the side effects of global warming is that more moisture is trapped in the atmosphere, and right now it's getting wrung out over northern Vermont. The extremes I've just described are symptomatic of the situation, and though we're happy for the snow now, if spring comes early this year it will be interesting to note the reactions. Until then, let it snow.