Ice Storms and Torchlights – A Quick Trip to Mount Snow


Photo Courtesy of Mount Snow

It was Tuesday’s snow report that finally pushed me over the edge.  Staring out the window at my winter-bleak backyard–brown grass and no snow in sight–a ding signaling a new email pulled my attention back to my computer screen.  A new edition of The Lift, Mount Snow’s digital newsletter, had arrived.  It touted the fact that contrary to the backyards like mine in areas further south, Mount Snow and the surrounding town of West Dover, “looked like winter,” with the past week bringing 14-inches of new snow.  We were planning a trip to Stowe at the end of the month, but I was suddenly overcome by a powerful urge to ski immediately.  I didn’t want to wait a few more weeks.  The slopes were calling.

Given that it was the Tuesday before Martin Luther King weekend, I figured that finagling a ski trip on such short notice would be a long shot.  And because our girls had plans on Saturday that included community service and birthday parties, we were only going to be able to stay over on Sunday night.  I swung into action, managing to secure a couple of rooms at the cozy Gray Ghost Inn and rallied the family with the plan to leave at dawn on Sunday morning.  Since Snow is only a 3 1/2 hour drive from our house near NYC, we figured we could be geared up and on the mountain by lunchtime, giving us a half day of skiing on Sunday and a full day on Monday–totally worth it.

What we didn’t bargain for was the ice storm.

IMG_2710The weather reports were forecasting rain for Sunday up and down the east coast.  Ever the optimist, I said that any precipitation at the mountain would be snow.  A light mist was falling from the sky as we pulled out of our driveway at seven a.m. and by the time we reached the Connecticut state line 45-minutes later, the combination of frozen roads and rain had turned I-84 into a skating rink.  Cars were spinning out left and right.  There was zero traction to be had.  My husband pulled off the highway and we waited out of harm’s way.  Armed with the lunch and snacks we’d packed for our day on the slopes, we hunkered down to wait for the forecasted warmer temps to move in and thaw our route north. Two hours later, having talked all about how terrible it would be to get stranded in the snowy wilderness with no food or heat, we were on our way.  We pulled into West Dover four hours behind schedule, trying to talk our disgruntled kids down from their disappointment of having missed a day of skiing.

I share this story because in spite of our crazy drive, we ended up having a fantastic time.  We headed straight to the mountain and enrolled the kids in ski school for the next morning.  A newer skier, I opted for a group lesson for myself. We got fitted for our boots, skis and helmets without feeling rushed and were treated to totally personalized service by the folks in equipment rentals.


We watched as soaked skiers (it did rain on the mountain, as it turned out) squelched their way into the base lodge as we headed to the Station Tap Room for a happy hour beer–our disappointment assuaged by the fact that we wouldn’t have skied in that weather anyway.  And we got to have the unique experience of watching Mount Snow’s annual Martin Luther King weekend torchlight parade and fireworks.

IMG_2726Huddled together on the deck of the Tap Room, pints of Trapp Family Trosten in hand, we could see the red glow atop the Canyon trail as a big group of ski school instructors assembled to light their way down the slope.  We yelled and whistled as the parade of skiers began to to weave along the trail and watched a pretty amazing fireworks display erupt over the mountain.  By the time the pyrotechnics had ended, the rain had changed over to snow, and we headed back to the inn ready for the great skiing we knew was waiting for us the next morning.

Disclosure:  We received complimentary lift tickets and ski rentals at Mount Snow.  As always, all of the opinions in this piece are entirely my own.

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