The Maple Syrup Season

By Kelsey Boyce

Tubbs Snowshoes Collecting Maple Sap for Maple Syrup Sugaring in Vermont

The original North American sweetener, the sweet nectar of the gods, liquid gold for your tastebuds. Whatever you like to call it, Maple Syrup is a North American tradition in both creation and consumption.

Oral stories vary from Native American and First Nations peoples on the discovery that the clear liquid from tapping maple trees could be boiled to become a sweet treat and integral ingredient for future generations. But, it is known that it was Native Americans in New England that would introduce European immigrants to the tradition of tapping trees, collecting sap, and creating maple syrup in the process called “sugaring.”

The season can vary in start date and length each season, but generally trees are tapped in early February and sap begins to flow when temperatures are 20-30F at night, and over 40-50f during the day. The sap flow can last anywhere from 7-20 days long, during which aluminum buckets, plastic bags, or rubber pipes are used to collect the clear liquid that resembles water. After the sap is collected, it is boiled at an extremely high temperature with a wood-fired evaporator located in what many call their “Sugaring Shack”. The evaporator reduces the sap at a 40/1 ratio, creating a very concentrated, sweet liquid called Maple Syrup.

Many people in both Canada and the United States continue the tradition of tapping maple trees around their property, whether deep in the woods, or along their driveway, to collect maple sap, and create their own batch of maple syrup. With deep snow remaining from winter storms, snowshoes help keep folks afloat while they are tapping trees and collecting sap throughout their property.

A Romp to Stomp volunteer and Stratton Mountain employee, Leah C., shared a few photos of her and her husband, Harold, in the process of maple sugaring in Vermont.

Tubbs Snowshoes maple sugaring, maple syrup

Harold, while wearing Tubbs Mountaineer snowshoes, drills a hole into a mature Sugar Maple to create placement for the tap.

Tubbs Snowshoe maple sugaring, maple sap collecting with snowshoes

All of the taps and buckets are set for when mother nature decides to let the sap flow.

Tubbs Snowshoes collects maple sap to create maple syrup

Leah collects bucket filled with maple sap while wearing Tubbs Xplore snowshoes.

The Maple Sap Evaporator for maple sugaring season

Harold and his brother keep the evaporating fire hot with maple wood in the sugaring shack.

The evaporator is used to reduce maple sap to maple syrup in the sugaring process.

 

Leah and Harold’s sugaring shack is used to reduce the sap to syrup in a 40/1 ratio.

This entry was posted on Thursday, March 27th, 2014 at 11:04 pm and is filed under International News.

Originally posted on http://news.tubbssnowshoes.com/2014/03/27/the-maple-syrup-season/

Insider’s Guide: A Co-Founder’s Tips for Wanderlust Stratton

By Jeff Krasno, Co-Founder of Wanderlust Festival

Our Insider’s Guide series offers new ‘lusters a peek into our festivals and introduces veterans to fresh adventures. In this installment, festival co-founder Jeff Krasno provides his tips & musings for a memorable Wanderlust Stratton. Be sure to check out our first post in this series: 25 Experiences You Don’t Want to Miss (Wanderlust Festival Summer 2014)

• • •

One of the aspects I love about Wanderlust is how each festival takes on the essence of its natural and cultural surroundings. This is particularly true at Stratton Mountain.

The beauty of the Vermont landscape is hushed. The mountains roll, the grass is lush, the sky often heavy. The colors blur like a watercolor and the energy is peaceful, old. If our Tahoe festival is Wagnerian with its high, jagged mountains thrusting into the thin air, then Vermont is more Debussy, impressionistic and dreamy.

Sunset at Stratton Mountain, Vermont

photo by Ashley Daige

Driving around Vermont, it is hard to find a town without a green market. Vermont didn’t so much rediscover the local food movement as it has served as an example for local-based economy. From maple syrup to cheeses to micro-brews, Vermont is the national capital of the cottage and craft industry. Even scaling brands like Cabot continue to work closely with local farmers.

On your way to the festival I highly suggest stopping at the Grafton Cheese Factory, on Route 30, on your drive just out of Brattleboro. See the inner workings of the factory and stock up on some cheese for the trip. A little further down the road, just before you get to Newfane, you can pull off at Dutton’s Farm Stand. Strawberries are perfectly in season during festival time. You can pick your own for CHEAP!

Even as Wanderlust Stratton continues to grow (and this year is going to be the biggest yet), the festival has retained a tight-knit, community feel. Snug in the shadow of the mountain and surrounded by dense summer forest, Stratton gives us a unique opportunity to create an intentional community. As you make the final turns up the access road – local victuals in tow – you’ll see what I mean. Stratton really becomes a little Wanderlust village, with yogis blissfully relaxing on the central lawn and strolling down the cobblestone walkways.

Read the rest of Krasno’s Insider’s Guide at Wanderlust.com

Stratton Named Finalist for NSAA Golden Eagle Award

By Lucyann Murray

We are excited to announce that the National Ski Area Association has named Stratton as one of four finalists for the Golden Eagle Award for medium-sized ski areas. The Golden Eagle Award, sponsored by SKI magazine, was established in 1993 to recognize outstanding resort achievements in the environmental arena. We are recognized along with Alta Ski Area (UT), Durango Mountain Resort (CO), and Arapahoe Basin (CO). Way to represent the East Coast!

The recipient of the Golden Eagle award will be announced on May 1, so stay tuned!

In an effort to reduce fossil fuel dependence and overall environmental footprint, we focused our attention on snowmaking. Four major projects took the spotlight: snow gun upgrades, electric air compressors, earth terrain features, and data tracking. After one Centac 1500 HP Diesel Air Compressor burned down in a fire, instead of purchasing another Diesel Air Compressor, Stratton upgraded to 300 high efficiency snow guns on the mountain. We replaced a second Diesel Air Compressor with the same size Electric Air Compressor, further reducing dependence on fossil fuels. 9900 cubic yards of earth fill has been installed at the tubing hill to substitute snow previous retired, and lastly Stratton has signed on to Efficiency Vermont’s Continuous Energy Improvement program which implements a complex data tracking system to help keep us accountable and reduce our energy use. The savings associated the these projects are vast, totaling about 251,670 gallons of diesel fuel per year, equivalent to 441 metric tons of CO2 being released into the atmosphere. With all these initiatives in place, we are on the road to becoming diesel-free in snowmaking.

Congratulations to all who helped put these projects into place! Keep your fingers crossed until May 1.

Make The Most Of Your Time At Stratton

By Lauren Suriani

Is this your first time here? Maybe it’s your second. Heck maybe you’ve been coming here for years. This is a bit of an insider guide to having the best time on the mountain. Whether it’s a Saturday morning or a Wednesday afternoon, these tips will help you have a great time at Stratton.

Where to Find the Best Snow

• Pay attention to wind direction. Ski the same side of the trail as the wind direction.

• If it’s windy and snowmaking was taking place the night before, ski the trails downwind from snowmaking guns. Ex. Snowmaking on Suntanner during a west wind, ski Yodeler first thing.

• Ski/Ride the trails that get the most traffic first. Ex. Ski Black Bear first thing, then work to Kidderbrook later in the day.

• Riding the gondi (gondola) is nice, but stick to the chairs if you want to find the best snow. They allow you to see and hear better. Watch where other skiers are going and listen, hearing the sound their skies or board makes can tell you a lot about the snow..

• Get here early on a powder day! If you really feel up for it, hike before the lifts open. I promise you, it will be worth it.

Avoid the Line

• Avoid the Base Lodge at lunch time. Try eating earlier or later and check out Sun Bowl and Mid-Mountain. (Mid Mt. have the best donuts on weekends!) Hint: Lift lines are short at noon since everyone else is inside eating.

• Avoid the Main Base. Check out Sun Bowl. It’s usually sunny and lines are generally shorter.

• If Shooting Star is running, use it! The lines are always shorter than URSA and it takes you to the same place.

• Get here early.

• Buy your lift ticket the night before; less waiting in the morning.

• Singles lines rarely work. Make a group of 6 or meet some new fiends and create a full group.

Have an Awesome Time

• Call the snow phone in the morning to get an idea what conditions will be like for the day. 802.297.4134

• Pack everything the night before. No stress in the AM.

• Get your skis/board tuned. Try First Run in Stratton Village. Skiing/riding on a fresh tune is just more fun, period. The best time to get a tune is right before new snow falls or when the snow is icy and firm.

• Come early or show up late. Early gets you a great parking spot and fresh groomed runs. Show up mid-morning like everyone else and be prepared to be patient. Show up after lunch for smaller crowds, sneak into a good parking spot and ski some bumps or small moguls! Sweet!

• Cool down. An old instructor trick is to ski an easy run on the last run of the day. You may feel comfortable and confident from a full day on the hill but take the advice, end your day on an easier run and a good note, you’ll be more eager to come back!

Why We Love 24Hours

By Courtney DiFiore

  1. Raises money for a great cause – The Stratton Foundation to help under privileged kids in the surrounding region.
  2. It’s fun!
  3. It’s an event for the whole family.
  4. It includes night skiing and riding (which is totally awesome).
  5. The Patriot Cheerleaders come and keep the competitors going with their spirit.
  6. There’s great live music.
  7. There’s a beer garden.
  8. There’s also (my personal favorite) fireworks!
  9. It all ends with a team B-B-Q and awards in the base area
  10. Did I already mention it’s fun?

Thanks to over 330 competitors and over 1,000 donors in 2013, we raised $175,000 in our first year. We look forward to exceeding $175,000 this year. Thank you to all who choose to participate from competitors to sponsors and everyone in-between.

See you at the starting line.

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VT Open Recap

By Adam Gray

HSP2014_4054-2250pxAs the morning clouds parted ways to reveal a deep blue canvas sky, Suntanner sat patiently awaiting its adoring fans, the 2014 VT Open Competitors. A massive 26-turn banked slalom snaking on rider’s right, a big air jump fit for giants halfway up on rider’s left, followed immediately by a freshly cut halfpipe — AND a 5 feature rail garden just below that. Suntanner was an arena fit for snowboarding’s kings and queens!

HSP2014_4083-2250px-2Friday, March 7th kicked off the VT Open with an insane rail jam. The parks crew pulled out all the stops crafting up an outstanding rail garden where athletes pushed themselves and one another. With over 100 competitors signed up for the rail jam, competition was fierce. Spectators mobbed the hill, trying to catch a glimpse of the many talented riders. Grizzly’s deck was lined with those hoping for a view.  Max Lyons and Ashley Bekah set the bar high from their first drop and as a result found themselves spots on the podium.

HSP2014_4200-2250pxThe excitement grew as the next event approached – halfpipe. Once again the sun shone, smells of BBQ wafted through the air and music vibrated with the cheering crowd. You could see the excitement building within the athletes. It was obvious that these athletes were going to put on an amazing show. Riders were going big out of the pipe, clearly putting their best foot forward. Competition was tough, but at the end of the event Ross Powers and Anna Valentine took first in Men and Women’s Pro Class. The Snurfer Challenge followed and put athletes and spectators alike in great spirits as attention shifted to the evening.

Lifts stopped spinning, the sun went down and the lights went up. There’s something magical about a mountain after hours, especially during the Vermont Open. A whole new energy settled itself on Suntanner, infecting all who hiked up to the Big Air jump. One by one the competitors dropped while the announcer competed with the cheering crowd. Jeremy Ellenburg and Elin Tortorice took first in Men’s and Woman Pro Class.

Day one competition may have been over but the celebration was not; the crowd made its way to Grizzly’s to keep the merriment going.          DSC_0117

When the sun rose on the second day of competition, everyone showed up prepared to perform at their best. The 26 turn banked slalom course looked inviting and frightening at the same time. The competitors couldn’t wait to fly through the turns. Athletes gathered at the top of the race course mentally and physically prepared as the crowd gathered at the bottom, some watching from Grizzly’s deck. While each competitor dropped into the course, the crowd cheered over the music and announcer. The camaraderie of the athletes was refreshing and infectious. Once again, Ross Powers and Anna Valentine took first in Men and Women’s Pro Class in the event.

Though the VT Open is still young (at only 2 years old), it’s growing fast; in fact the Roots Package and Banked Slalom were sold out before the event even began. Kudos to all those who per-registered and landed a spot. Thanks again to all who participated from athletes to sponsors, already looking forward to next year.

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Fresh Tracks at Stratton

By Lucyann Murray

We may be quiet, but we have been busy…

Wheels have been turning over here in the environmental sector of the mountain, and we are proud to announce the launch of Fresh Tracks online.

Our new website includes a complete timeline of Stratton’s environmental accomplishments from 1990 – 2013. The individual sub-pages on waste, energy, natural resources, infrastructure improvements, and education point out key initiatives going on throughout Stratton.

For example, did you know that we have initiated compost in Stratton-owned food service establishments?

Or that our tubing hill is made out of earth fill?

Or that we have used cork flooring in the dashing bear, and cork is a renewable resource that can be harvested from the same tree for up to 350 years?!

This is only the beginning of what has been accomplished around the resort. There is much to learn by browsing the website. There is even a section that tells YOU how to contribute to the Fresh Tracks mission if you click on the “Environmental Education” section.

Help us grow this initiative and protect, conserve, and enjoy for many generations.

A Hot Spot for Alpine Boarding

By Courtney DiFiore

Like many that live in Southern Vermont, I too share a deep love for the outdoors. In the winter season, you can find me shredding the mountain on my snowboard most of the time, but I can ski as well. I don’t share the same love for it as riding but it is a nice change. Another on-hill sport I’ve been dying to try since I first learned about the sport is Alpine boarding.

Alpine boarding is similar to snowboarding in that you have both feet strapped to one board, but there are some major differences. The board is longer, stiffer, more narrow and designed only to be ridden in one direction. The boots used are hard shell boots, similar to a ski boot, but softer and significantly more comfortable. The bindings are more rigid than a freestyle binding and in conjunction with the hard boot, provide greater control over the edge of the board.

Because Alpine snowboarding is such a niche sport, finding equipment locally is near impossible. This is why getting the chance to participate in the East Coast Expression Session (ECES) was so exciting for me! ECES comes to Stratton every other year providing demos and clinics for Alpine boards.

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ECES set up a tent in the main base area February 26-28 allowing anyone interested to demo and learn more about the sport. On Thursday, I took the plunge and demoed a Donek Alpine Board. Todd Brown, one of the many that make up our local contingent of passionate carvers at Stratton, helped me on my first run. He used the Gondola ride to the summit to prep me with some need to know info like: it’ll probably feel a little weird at first, getting up is the hardest part, it’s important to set your edge before leaning into the hill  and so on.

The bindings for Alpine boards are comparable to step in bindings for a snowboard; it’s really quick. Once I was clipped into the board and ready to ride, Brown set sail for Janeway Jct. and the Meadows. Talking me through it, Brown and I cruised back to the main base focusing on locking in my edge before I tried leaning into the turn.

I was surprised at how easy it was. I’m no professional, but I’d definitely say the learning curve is a small one if you’re already an experienced snowboarder. Though I was ready to start taking turns on my own to practice, I decided instead to join the woman’s clinic ECES was holding. What a great group of ladies! They were so motivating, encouraging and educational.

If you’re looking for more information on the sport or equipment, see www.bomberonline.com. Bomber Industries is the largest US supporter of Alpine Snowboarding and is a one stop shop for equipment and information including a very active online forum.