Here’s the thing about those icy, flat slopes: They absolutely make you a better skier.
I’m about to talk about Stratton Mountain, the ski resort that’s just 10 minutes from where I grew up in Vermont, and I know what you’re thinking: Ice. Bitterly cold temperatures. Liftlines crowded with New Yorkers and Bostonians. Terrain that’s, well...the place is known as “Flatton.”
Yes, it’s all those things. But it’s also my home ski area, and here’s why I love it.
I thought I won it for being fast, a misconception my father did not dispute even though it would cost him thousands in race gear and entry fees over the next decade.
I used to crave chocolate moose— yes, moose—because there was a counter that sold them in the old base lodge at Maine’s Sugarloaf Mountain in the early ’80s. The place offered other cast-chocolate Maine kitsch, too—lobsters, lighthouses, seagulls—but it was the moose lollipop I wanted.
It’s a wonder we didn’t end up with serious injuries to our wool-hat-clad heads.
Hunter Mountain, N.Y., isn’t where I actually learned to ski. But Hunter is indeed where I learned to ski. Chasing my older brother down icy black diamonds like Hell Gate and Minya Konka, yard-saling big-time on the double blacks at Hunter West—Westway, under the liftline, even. No matter how hard I skied—or rather how hard I bit it—my brother never let me win.
I’d like to apologize to everyone in those liftlines whose skis I walked on.
I’d like to thank all the guys—students at Norwich University, all pushing retirement age by now—who gave me shoulder rides to the top of my local hill in central Vermont. I was five, too small to hold down the poma platter. They made a little boy with a runny nose very happy. Man, how I loved to ski when I was five.
No place does diners like the Northeast, and these ski-country classics keep the flame alive.
Dot’s Restaurant, Wilmington, Vt. » The beloved eatery was taken out by the Hurricane Irene floods but rebuilt in 2014, much to the region’s relief. The space may be new, but the food is exactly the same, with legendary pancakes (served with real Vermont maple syrup, natch) and eggs accompanied by homemade breads.