Author Archives: The View from Up Here

10 ways to go green during family travel

Smugglers Notch Vermont family nature

Many families who visit Smugglers’ Notch Resort on vacation applaud the resort’s environmental efforts focused on animal habitat protection, trash and energy use reduction, and water conservation. Environmental stewardship is important to these visitors, who often pursue similar efforts in their homes.

And what about vacation time? No problem. Whether your family already has good green habits  or is eager to make green your new routine, you’ll find that practicing environmental responsibility on vacation is easier than you’d think. Take a look at the following tips shared by Smugglers’ environmental team:

Preparing for your vacation

  • Bring along refillable water bottles for each family member.
  • If you’ll be shopping at your destination, pack a reusable shopping bag.
  • If driving, plan your route to choose the most gas-efficient route. Many states have travel information websites that outline road closures and construction. Checking out these sites will help you reduce gas-guzzling backtracking or idling. Consider traveling the old state routes that parallel the interstate. These routes can be  more scenic, and the lower speed limits may help you use less fuel.

Upon arrival

  • Typically trash and recycling containers are clearly identified, but if in doubt, check in with your vacation destination’s staff.
  • If you picnic, be sure to pack out trash and recycling for proper disposal and use compostable, or better yet, reusable utensils and dishes.
  • Hang up pool and bath towels; dryers consume a lot of electricity.
  • Before choosing take-out dining, check to see if the take-out containers are recyclable or compostable.
  • Don’t toss books and magazines. Recycle or “gift” these items to your vacation destination for other guests to enjoy.
  • Enjoy some green fun outdoors. Look for nature hikes or other activities that educate about the environment.
  • Make it fun – this is your vacation, after all! Have a friendly competition to see who can come up with more green tips.

You’ll leave a positive footprint at your destination, and your vacation memories will be extra special … and evergreen!

 

Salt water pool chlorination at Smugglers’ Notch Resort

Notchville pool at Smugglers' Notch Vermont

In the summer, splashing in the pools and taking a trip down the waterslides are highlights for our guests. With swimmer comfort and safety top of mind, we’re transitioning our Village Center pool facilities to salt water chlorination, an effort expected to wrap up  during summer 2015. We’re confident it’s the best way to serve our water-loving guests.

For swimmers, pool water treated with a salt water chlorine generation system has some benefits over traditional chlorine sanitization:

  • It’s less irritating on the eyes.
  • It’s softer on your skin.
  • It won’t fade or damage swim suits.
  • It provides a more comfortable experience for swimmers with asthma, allergies, or chemical sensitivities.

There are environmental, safety and resource management bonuses, too. Conversion from chlorine allows our pool managers to reduce storage of this hazardous chemical on site. Also, the salt water system is regenerative, which creates less waste.

Here’s how the process works:

First, salt is dissolved in the water. The water passes through a salt cell which produces a chemical reaction that generates enough chlorine to keep the pool disinfected. Eventually, the reaction slows down and the molecules revert back to their original forms, becoming salt and water again. This reduces the need to add salt on a regular basis, and because chlorine is generated within the water, there is better consistency of sanitization.

In recent years, two of our small condominium neighborhood pools were converted to salt water chlorine generation systems, and one new neighborhood pool was built with a salt water chlorine generator in place. This past winter we converted the 85,000-gallon Courtside Pool and hot tubs, which are in use year-round (and add a waterslide in the summer).  Feedback from our guests has been extremely positive, with many folks remarking on the softer skin feel of the water.

This summer, it’s time to move on to complete conversion of our other large water complexes: Mountainside, with a lap pool, lagoon, kiddie pool and Giant Rapid River Ride, and Notchville Park, with  three pools and Twister flume waterslide. Soon our guests will be enjoying the benefits of salt water chlorination at all their favorite splash and swim spots at Smugglers’!

Dip into more information about our pools and waterslides!

Mountainside pool at Smugglers' Notch Vermont

Tips for watching wildlife

Sterling Pond Vermont

One of the great things about a trip to the Green Mountains of Vermont is having the opportunity to observe and learn about wildlife. Here at Smugglers’ Notch, and in the surrounding area, some time spent in the field can yield numerous opportunities to view birds, woodland animals, and even aquatic species.

Before heading out on your wildlife viewing adventure, be aware that few species are active during the daytime and most species seek to avoid human presence. Plus, you want to be respectful of the animal and its habitat and enjoy their activities from a distance. Keeping these two points in mind, the following tips will help direct your efforts.

  • When to go: Wildlife is most active during the first couple of hours of daylight and the last couple of hours before nightfall. Take a walk or a drive along the back roads near the resort during these time periods. Or, sign up for the resort’s guided Evening Wildlife Watch to enjoy wildlife spotting by canoe. Smugglers’ also offers an early morning Birds & Bloomers walk for bird and wildflower spotting with an expert guide.
  • What to wear: Sturdy shoes for walking and clothing that offers protection from underbrush and insects to ensure comfort.
  • What to bring: Binoculars and a camera if you’re so inclined. Although most animals are readily identifiable, a field guide for birds can be useful since you are likely to see many species. A small daypack can carry gear, a bottle of water, a snack and also hold clothing you might need as temperatures shift at the beginning and end of the day.
  • What to do: Walk slowly and quietly on trails. Be patient, and stop frequently to listen. Often larger species make noise as they move through woods or brush. Open meadows can also be great spots to view wildlife. Sit quietly on the perimeter of a field to watch and listen.
  • What about kids? Sure, you can wildlife watch with young kids! Pick a location that offers immediate interest to them. Choosing a spot alongside a stream gives children something to look at, and you might collect leaves to press later or a few interesting stones before settling down to wait for wildlife. A child can carry their own small pack and you could include any of the wonderful wildlife guides currently available for young children.

Successful wildlife watching requires two things: first, getting out into the natural world, and two, patience! Just imagine the excitement of spotting a critter. But even if you don’t, time spent in the natural world can be relaxing and rejuvenating, and offer connection with a friend or family member who accompanies you. In sum, any way you look at it, wildlife watching is a winning vacation activity.

Ski school stories: My best day

Snowboarding Smugglers' Notch Resort

Earlier this winter we asked a few of our ski and snowboard instructors to share a story about their best day supporting a snowsports student. Their replies show that the word “lesson” really doesn’t do justice to the experience. Sure, the lesson is about learning or improving on skills, and that in itself is exciting. But their “best day” stories showed that a lesson can be about fulfillment, exploration, challenge, independence, creativity, friendship and more – all good stuff!

Here’s snowboard instructor Greg Fatigate’s “best day” story:

Diana was as terrified of her toe-side turn on her snowboard as she was determined to not quit. She had felt the sensation of a smooth arc on a snowboard and knew she was hooked. However, there was a skeleton in her snowboard closet that she couldn’t forget. A fall she took the season past manifested itself in an awkward transition from heel-edge to toe-edge. We called it the pivot kick.

Diana is a thoughtful mother of three children, all of whom I have the pleasure of snowboarding with as well. A professional career woman in her early forties, Diana always sticks out in my mind as someone whose breakthrough is memorable and inspiring.

I like starting out on terrain that my student or group is already comfortable on. So we went to mid-station on the Village lift. To eliminate the awkward pivot kick, we focused on a long track across the widest part of the hill. We identified what we felt from our board when it was flat on the snow in transition. We also identified what we should feel in the interaction between our shins and the tongues of our boots when we begin to close our ankles. We came to see that this was the feel we needed to make a smooth toe-side turn.

Diana also noted that she liked the longer track we took during the drill. She noted that she typically just stays to the side of the trail. The track we took was nice, long and smooth.

Then came the inspiring part: Because we worked out the terrifying hitch kick, Diana is now able to ride with her kids just about anywhere on the mountain. For her and her family, time on the mountain is precious. Before this, she told me, she couldn’t spend it with them. She is able to focus on the joy of being with them, not the fear of the pivot-kick.

All of our instructors’ “best day” stories can be read in Explore Smuggs magazine.

Have you had a rewarding snowsports instructional experience? We’d love to hear about it – share your story in a comment!

Tips for Vermont maple sugaring season travel

Vermont maple

Nothing’s sweeter than sugar on snow during Vermont’s maple sugaring season!

In Vermont, another busy maple sugaring season launches when warming temperatures in late winter and early spring signal the sap to begin running in maple trees. Once sap is collected by sugarmakers for boiling, billowing white clouds of steam are the telltale sign of a bustling sugarhouse. This is a great time for a sugarhouse visit, as learning about maple sugaring can be a fascinating and educational experience for families. These tips will make your travel to Vermont during the maple sugaring season your sweetest vacation ever!

  • Enjoy sampling! Maple is much more than syrup. When planning your Vermont visit, visit shops, wineries, and breweries with a maple specialty. Even spas may have a maple treatment!
  • Research events you might enjoy. Vermont’s celebration of maple encompasses many events, such as the statewide Maple Open House Weekend March 28 and 29, and smaller events hosted by businesses or towns. Big or small, these activities are each unique celebrations of our state’s heritage.
  • Mind your maple manners! Sugarhouses that are open to the public typically welcome visitors of all ages. Keep in mind that a sugarhouse is a working environment, and care should be taken around functioning equipment. Sugarhouses may have their own individual guidelines, and your sugarmaker host will be happy to provide guidance to support your visit.
  • Pack appropriate clothing and footwear. Weather in Vermont can be changeable in late winter and early spring. Be sure to check the forecast and dress accordingly. Layers can be conveniently shed when you go from the outdoors into a warm sugarhouse. Many sugarhouses are in rural countryside settings and sturdy warm and waterproof footwear ensures comfort.

Smugglers' Notch Vermont MapleFestCelebrate Vermont’s maple sugaring season with Smugglers’ Notch Resort! Smugglers’ will host a MapleFest Celebration from March 27 – April 12, 2015. Complimentary activities include a weekly carnival with sugar on snow and a maple-infused beer and spirits tasting, visits to a local sugarhouse and specialty food sampling. Children will receive a maple themed activity book. The resort’s snowshoe and walking treks will educate and entertain with maple lore. Lodging packages during this time period feature the lowest rates of the season. Start planning your maple vacation!

Ski tips: Skiing glades

SmugglersNotchglades

At Smugglers’ Notch Resort, gladed or wooded terrain encompasses about 22 percent of the trail network, and there are gladed areas for different levels of ability. Why ski glades? Skiers value a run through the woods for the natural beauty, challenge and caches of powder the experience can offer. How about adding this experience to your next ski vacation?

Smugglers’ adult ski instructor Sherm White has years of tree skiing under his belt and loves to introduce skiers to this special experience. He observes, “The essence of skiing in the trees is getting back to our roots (pun intended!), where the skier is alone with the mountain, without the benefit of grooming and snowmaking. But lots of people miss out on this experience because they are intimidated by skiing in tight spaces.”

If you’re new to skiing glades, a lesson can bolster your confidence and skills. Take note of the following tips from Sherm to enhance your experience:

  • Study the trail map to figure out the best trail for you, given your skiing ability. Glades marked on the trail map are graded in difficulty, the same as other trails are. The grade is determined by the closeness of the trees and the steepness of the slope.
  • For a first taste of skiing the trees, look for shorter trails that won’t tire you out and lots of negotiating space between the trees. Look for easy access to open trails if you need a break from skiing in the woods. More advanced skiers can look for longer runs with more challenge.
  • Risk management is always important. If you don’t know where you are going, stay on the gladed trails marked on the trail map and by trail signs. Take your pole straps off your wrists and always wear eye protection. Many experienced glade skiers wear helmets as protection from too close calls with branches. Never ski in the woods alone, and always try to stay in sight of your companions.
  • Skiing off groomed terrain puts a much greater emphasis on turning the feet to turn the skis. Carving really doesn’t work well. You need to be able to turn the skis on demand. Here are three skills you can practice on groomed terrain that will help you build the skills and confidence you’ll need:

Link hop turns, where you hop, turn your feet and land. Try to do this without twisting your upper body.

Sideslip by facing down the hill with your skis across the fall line, and slide downhill. See if you can point your tips from one side of the trail to the other without actually making a turn.

Practice hockey stops as a great exercise to control where you are going. The key is to stay balanced over your feet and not let your feet get ahead of or behind your body.

  • After you’ve developed the skills to confidently ski gladed terrain, as you ski look at the spaces between the trees, rather than at the trees. Your body follows where you are looking.
  • Just as you would with any trail, follow the rules when skiing glades. For example, at Smugglers’ most of the gladed trails close at 3 pm, so you shouldn’t plan on entering the glades right before or after that. Also, never duck under a rope that marks a closed area or head out of bounds late in the day. If something goes wrong you will be putting yourself and any rescue response in danger.

If you are new to the woods, or don’t have anyone to venture into the woods with, taking a lesson is worthwhile. Your classmates just may become your new glade skiing buddies during your ski vacation. The instructor can help you add a new and rewarding dimension to your mountain experience and serve as your guide to those secret snow stashes!

Family ski tips: Preparing young kids for skiing

SmugglersNotchMomChild

At Smugglers’ Notch Resort, the Treasures nursery caregivers dress a lot of little ones for outdoor play over the course of the winter season! In addition to enjoying snowy playtime outdoors, children as young as 2 ½ can learn how to ski in the nursery’s introductory program with a dedicated 20-foot conveyor lift and small slope. For winter-loving  parents who are eager to introduce their young children to skiing, Treasures director Shelly Schaffer offers words of wisdom as well as clothing tips.

Preparation. It’s beneficial to talk about the concept of skiing well before your ski vacation. Take out ski equipment and allow young children to play with it. Read books or show videos about skiing and other winter sports. Before a ski vacation, children should be familiar and comfortable with winter clothes and gear, so it’s good to have kids dress up in their winter clothing and practice putting on mittens and hats. Parents of young children know that each day brings different challenges. Some familiarity with this new undertaking will help ease the way for your little skier.

Getting dressed

Choose cozy layers for comfort and warmth. Stay away from pure cotton for underlayers; consider a cotton/polyester blend long sleeved shirt topped with a fleece or a wool blend sweater.

B is for balaclava … and bibs. While a knit hat offers warmth for snow play, when skiing, a thin microfleece balaclava covers the head, ear and neck and fits well under a helmet. Bibs are better than pants at preventing snow from creeping inside. Make sure the bottoms of bibs are wide enough to fit over top of the ski boot.

Mittens must be user-friendly. Those that Velcro half way up the hand, slide on with ease and are long enough to cover the wrist are great. Putting mittens on before the jacket will help keep the mitten in place. If you purchase long mittens make sure that they stretch over the jacket. The mitten should be waterproof. Avoid gloves … it takes a lifetime to get their little fingers in the right holes!

No bunching or scrunching with socks. Dress little feet in long non-cotton socks that cover the entire calf and fit well so that nothing bunches under the ski boot. A wool blend is best for warmth and wicking.

Top with a wind and waterproof jacket to ensure warmth. Now your child is dressed and ready!

A few final thoughts for parents …

Patience, patience! When signing up your child for ski school or working with your child following formal ski instruction, keep your expectations realistic, be extremely patient and use small words and phrases to describe skiing fundamentals. Children need to feel safe at all times and know that you are totally focused on them. For that reason, once your child is on skis, allow them to glide no more than a few feet at a time while you make sure they always are perfectly visible. Early introductions to skiing should be no more that 1/2 hour to one hour for toddlers.

Once the experience is over, continue to talk about it in a positive manner. Celebrate your child’s achievement and make a big deal about how proud you are of them for learning to ski!

In this short video, Treasures director Shelly Schaffer and the center’s young skiers chat about dressing for snowy fun!

Looking for more tips for children? Take a look at The power of play: Three fun ways to prep kids for skiing & riding

 

Ski school stories: My best day

SmugglersNotchsnowboard

Recently we posed this question to a few of our ski and snowboard instructors:

Will you share a story about your best day supporting a snowsports student?

Their replies, which we’ll post throughout the winter season, show that the word “lesson” really doesn’t do justice to the experience of snowsports instruction. Sure, the lesson is about learning or improving on skills, and that in itself is exciting. But as our “best day” stories show, a lesson can also be about fulfillment, exploration, challenge, independence, creativity, and friendship. And sometimes, that “best day” stretches into the full season, or beyond.

Snowboard instructor Drew Tolbert shares his “best day” story:

It was a cold day on the hill so things were a little slow; a little clunky. The young rider and I just wanted some smoother turns – not too much to ask for – but the crunchy snow and our equipment just didn’t want to cooperate. Feeling defeated, we loaded the lift and did a shaking, seated dance to try and warm up quick. On the lift ride, we started talking about hobbies. My snowboarding friend told me about her skills as a tap dancer; the fancy footwork and rhythm that made her a graceful and powerful performer. From there our mission was clear: she just needed to find her own beat and let her feet do the work!

Once we figured out that tap moves could be tapped right into the board, it was a whole new song and dance. She was sliding all over the trail with ease. Suddenly it wasn’t so cold and the lift rides were all smiles and laughter. After that, I was following her, trying to match her rhythm and admiring the smoothness of her turns. I paused at the top of the last steep pitch to watch her dance casually down the fast slope. Not long ago that same pitch felt like a white knuckle luge track.

We cruised down to the gazebo on Morse Mountain to finish the session. This stoked little girl was transformed – she had figured out how to use her other talents to make a breakthrough in her riding. Dancing on her snowboard, she said it was time to learn tricks!

Learn more about Smugglers’ Snow Sport University instruction programs. We guarantee that each member of your family will learn to ski or snowboard, or will improve technique, no matter what his or her ability level – novice to expert – or we will refund the lesson portion of that person’s vacation package. The guarantee is a simple sign of our confidence that you’ll have your own best day on our mountain!

Returning to the slopes with confidence

SmugglersNotchlesson

If you’re returning to the slopes after a hiatus from skiing or snowboarding, coming back might seem a bit daunting. But rest assured, you’re not alone, and there’s a support system in place for you!

Rena Perkins, a snowsports professional at Smugglers’ Notch Resort, observes, “In ski school lineup, I frequently meet skiers who were once avid practitioners of the sport, until something happened to take them away from the mountain. Perhaps it was a move to a non-snowy area; maybe health problems or an injury that made skiing uncomfortable; or perhaps they’ve been caught up in the family whirl of soccer games and ballet lessons. I think I can speak for all snowsports professionals when I say this: I love to welcome a fellow enthusiast back into the fold.”

To ease the transition for skiers and riders returning to the slopes, Rena shares the following tips.

1. Start slowly! When you’re getting back into skiing or riding, remember that you haven’t used a lot of these muscles in this way since, well, the last time you skied or rode. In addition, you developed the specialized balance and motor skills needed to ski or ride over some time when you were first learning; it may take awhile for those skills to become second nature again. In short, you will probably be a little rusty, so let yourself ease back in!

2. Embrace new technology. Shaped and alternative camber skis revolutionized skiing; it’s now virtually impossible to buy a “straight” ski for recreational use. Snowboards are now made to handle to any type of terrain and delight any kind of rider. Ski and snowboard boots are more supportive, and at the same time lighter, warmer and easier to walk in. You will notice that this new equipment comes with a new price tag as well. So before you drop a bundle of cash on untried equipment, take out some demos, available at most shops that rent equipment.

3. Take a lesson. Instructors are some of the most knowledgeable resources when it comes to new technology, teaching techniques and analysis and development of skills. In addition, people who spend so much time on the hill have genuine passion for their sports and enthusiasm for bringing others back to the mountain. A lesson will get you back up to speed while building confidence, which is arguably the most important aspect of skiing or riding well.

4. Go with the right attitude. If you learned to ski or snowboard when you were a kid, you probably had an easy time picking up the skills because you had young muscles and no fear. With age comes wisdom; visions of yourself scuttling around collecting your equipment after a classic “yard sale” can be daunting. We’ve all been there – give yourself a break, relax, and be patient as you relearn skills.

5. Educate yourself. The advent of shaped and alternative camber skis and boards has changed skiing and riding. Gone are the days when your ski tips reached your up-stretched fingertips or you hopped onto your snowboard in a pair of snow boots. Pick up a ski or snowboard magazine or talk to industry insiders like instructors, bootfitters or snowsports retailers. They can show you how your sport has changed, and what those changes will mean for your return to the mountain.

As a final thought, Rena advises, “Take heart, there’s only one thing that every skier and every rider needs to be successful, and that is confidence. So if you are ready and excited to get back into skiing or riding and you can only work on one thing, build your confidence, and everything else will fall into place.”

And speaking of confidence, be confident that there will be a snowsports professional ready to celebrate and support your return to the slopes!

SNRadultsnowboard

Ski school stories: My best day

SmugglersNotchkidslesson

 

Recently we posed this question to a few of our ski and snowboard instructors:

Will you share a story about your best day supporting a snowsports student?

Their replies, which we’ll post throughout the winter season, show that the word “lesson” really doesn’t do justice to the experience of snowsports instruction. Sure, the lesson is about learning or improving on skills, and that in itself is exciting. But as the instructors’ “best day” stories illustrate, a lesson can also be about fulfillment, exploration, challenge, independence, creativity, and friendship. And sometimes, that “best day” stretches into a season, or beyond.

Ski instructor Shawna Fatigate shares her “best day” story:

I met Matt, now a 9 year old, when he joined a level 4 group lesson on Morse. Matt quickly demonstrated that he was able to match his skis through most of the turn and with some extra one-on-one time he was skiing parallel on Snow Snake. I arranged with his mom to do a transition lesson so that Matt could take his new skills to Sterling and Madonna. During our chairlift rides, Matt wasn’t chatty so I took the liberty of giving him the chairlift tour, pointing out sights like Mount Mansfield, Lake Champlain, and Canada. I noted the blue sugaring lines, the number of chairs on the lift, and where the gladed trails were. Apparently, he listened to every word because, according to his mom, he repeated the whole story to his family that evening.

The following season, Matt became my ski buddy on his vacation. He had officially outskied his family and wanted to spend some time on Sterling and Madonna. With Matt, every day became an adventure and exploration of trails and terrain. We got a trail map and a highlighter and marked every piece of terrain we skied. By the end of the week we had tackled every open blue trail and a few sections of black terrain. Matt’s trail map was his trophy to hang on his wall at home.

My favorite part about skiing with Matt is that when we encounter tricky terrain or have a spill in deep snow he gives a “Whoa!” as if he were on a rollercoaster. He approaches everything new with a sense of wonder and excitement as if it was the best day ever even if he ends up eating a face full of snow. Matt reminds me that learning new skills is important, but the adventure and experience is ten times more valuable.

Learn more about Smugglers’ Snow Sport University learning programs. We guarantee that each member of your family will have fun, learn to ski or snowboard, or will improve technique, no matter what his or her current ability level — novice to expert — or we will refund the entire lesson portion of that person’s vacation package. The guarantee is a simple sign of our confidence that you’ll have your own best day on our mountain. SNRAdventureski