Time for snow tires

By Courtney DiFiore

This weekend is calling for snow upwards to 5 inches by Sunday morning. Can you believe that? Despite our first snow last weekend, I’ve still neglected to switch my all-season tires for winter. I can’t possibly be the only one behind the eight ball on this one. Actually, now that I think of it, I did overhear a co-worker making an appointment today. There’s hope for me yet. As a result of this realization that I’m NOT ‘winter ready,’ I created a to-do list to keep me on track.

What am I missing and more importantly, what are you missing? Ready or not, winter is coming.

  1. Get snow tires
  2. Schedule oil change
  3. Make emergency winter kit to store in trunk
    This includes things like a flashlight, blanket, salt (dirt or kitty litter work too), batteries, jumper cables etc.
  4. Put in storm windows
  5. Stack fire wood
  6. Body conditioning (Check out this recent post on conditioning for winter)
  7. Tune equipment
  8. Get out the old base layers, jacket and so on
  9. Buy season pass or lift tickets early
  10. Watch ski and snowboard videos!

Preparing For 2014-15 Winter Season

By Courtney DiFiore

Imagine beginning your day with a beautiful sunrise over lush green mountains. As you gaze down into the valley, you bite into a locally grown apple. While stretching, you awe at the symphony of fall colors and plan out the rest of your day. Shall you take a swim in the local watering hole, play a few rounds on the links, rally some tennis balls or take a day trip to a nearby brewery? This is autumn in Vermont.

Between all the hikes, bonfires, swimming, biking and so on, there’s still one thing even the longest summer can’t make me forget… winter. Labor Day is celebrated nationwide and is the unofficial mark (for most) that summer is over. This holiday weekend has become a bittersweet time for those in love with the endless days of sunshine and tan lines. I, on the other hand, see Labor Day Weekend as a milestone counting down the days to the first snowfall.

This means there are fewer than 80 days to get ready for the season. While many are thinking about what new gear to buy or where to bring their old digs for a sharpen and wax, I’m concerned about my physical shape. I want to get the most out of my money. When I buy a lift ticket, I plan on lapping the lift until last call. If I’m not prepared, I’ll be the person huddled next to a heater in a base lodge. I don’t want to be huddled there tired, sore and hungry. No one wants to be that guy!

It’s important not to discount the physical beating your body takes when skiing and riding; it’s something to prepare for. Ready or not, Stratton’s chairlifts will start spinning. In an effort to jump start my winter training I’ve made a ‘to-do list’ that to keep me on track.

  1. Complete the 7 Summits Challenge – I’m looking to build my endurance and leg strength so I can go from first chair to Après with ease.
  2. Strengthen my core in the gym – Here’s a circuit I like to do from Men’s Health Magazine:
    seated ab crunchSeated ab crunch
    Sit on a flat bench, gripping the edges. Lean back, extending your legs. Then bend your knees and raise your legs to your chest. Lean your upper body forwards, bringing your chest towards your thighs. Aim for 12 reps.

    mb leg dropMedicine ball leg-drops
    Lie face-up and squeeze a light med ball between your ankles. Start with your legs straight up then lower them without touching the floor. Return to the start position as fast as possible. That’s 1 rep. Do 10-12.

    weighted one side crunchWeighted one-sided crunch
    Lie back, knees bent and feet flat. Hold a dumbbell with both hands by your right shoulder. Curl your torso up and rotate to the left, then lower back down. Perform 8-10 reps on one side, switch and repeat with the dumbbell by your left shoulder.

    cable crunchKneeling cable crunch
    Kneel facing the pulley of a cable machine with a rope attached high. Hold the ends of the rope near sides of face. Crunch three times in total: first aim your chest at your pelvis, then aim at your left knee, then at your right. That’s 1 rep.

    Perform 10

    burpee1 Burpee
    Get into a regular squat-thrust position: arms shoulder-width apart, hands on the floor with your legs tucked up to your chest. This is both your start and finish stance.

    burpee2Kick your legs back to a press-up position and lower yourself for a push-up before jumping back into start position.

    From here, thrust your body upwards, using your legs and core muscles to launch yourself burpee3from the ground.

    Do 3 sets of 20 reps.

  3. Attend two yoga classes a week – I plan on increasing my flexibility as it’s very important.

What are you doing to get ready for the season?

Climber’s Faith

Originally posted on September 2, 2014 by Liz Millikin on her blog Slackcountry Living.

Now here is something worth writing about:

In all sports, you must learn to trust your body. In skiing, you place your trust in the power of your legs, the pressure of your shins against the front of the boot, the angle of your hips. You trust your body to control your speed and propel you forward, to absorb impact and launch you into flight.

But I think… In one sport, it’s less about trust and more about faith. Trust has a logical basis. Faith is at least a little illogical. Faith requires a willful denial of logic. Which sport is this? Climbing.

In climbing, you must have faith that your hand will not slide and that the strength in your fingers is enough to hold steady. You must have faith that your reach will expand that extra inch, that your jump will bring you just a little bit farther than seems possible.

More than anything, you must have faith in your feet. Faith in the ability of your feet to find a hold where none exists, to turn rock crystals into a perch that will bear your weight just long enough to follow your momentum to the next hand hold, the next foothold-that-isn’t-there, anything to move forward.

Can you tell that I just went climbing after a hiatus of years?

lauren ted climbing
Ted and Lauren climbing near Stratton Mountain.

I was very rusty. It was awesome.

Hiking at Stratton

September is hiking month at Stratton Mountain Resort. Cooler temperatures keep the bugs at bay and makes for more comfortable hiking weather as the trees put on a show of colors. It also means it’s time to start getting your ski, snowboard, and snowshoe legs and lungs in shape.

Try the 7 Summits Challenge – Beginning September 1 through October 13, 2014.

hiking_summitWhen hiking up Stratton, there’s a lot of routes to choose. Ranging from easy to more difficult, you can use our guide to help you.

If you’re looking to hike more off the beaten path, try the Appalachian and Long Trail. The Appalachian and Long trails share a southern 103.6 miles, crossing over Stratton Mountain which was the inspiration for both of these storied routes.

Have fun getting those legs ready for the 2014-15 winter season. Don’t forget to tag us @StrattonResort on Twitter and Instagram when posting your awesome hiking shots this fall.

Let’s Ride!

By Adam Wanamaker

What is a glade skiing, powder-stash steward to do when the snow melts in southern Vermont? The most obvious answer is to go hiking.

Hiking is relaxing. It affords 360o movement on the mountain, an opportunity to explore and discover hidden nooks and crannies typically buried in the winter, a chance to meet some of the diverse wildlife and discover the down-right mesmerizing plant life that makes you swear James Cameron spent time in the Green Mountains during his “research” phase for Avatar. Hiking is great exercise, but it’s not the only way to get out and enjoy summer in the mountains.

Cue my personally preferred form of transportation, entertainment, excitement, and dopamine in non-snow bearing months; my mountain bike. It’s not often that two people get back from an hour-long hike and can, without saying a word, connect with a smile, a head tilt, or raising a glass with a mutual respect knowing exactly what the person across the way—a complete stranger perhaps—is thinking. In winter this happens regularly on a powder day in the lift line or in your preferred—ahem—establishment at the end of the day, and it happens after a mountain biking session, too.

Thankfully there is an increasingly large and dedicated community of mountain bike enthusiasts and land owners cropping up around the Stratton area, with most of the trail systems having opened or reopened to public access, planned, and constructed only within the past three years. Momentum is building around the mountain bike movement and clubs like the Manchester & The Mountain’s Bike Club have been busily building trails, organizing group rides, and taking the proverbial torch forward in making a cohesive community with a vision and a mission that area businesses and the Chamber of Commerce have been supporting around mountain biking. That’s why I implore you to go to your local bike shop in Southern Vermont and ask about trails. Not only will you get some great , non-Googleable info, but this is one of the few things where the internet hasn’t kept up entirely with the full-throttle work that’s being done to make steep mountains covered in ankle-deep mud not just rideable, but fun places to get your dopamine fix flying through the trees until winter comes back around. If I can’t convince you to revisit mountain biking or give it a spin for the first time, maybe this kid can.

About the author:

Adam Wanamaker got lost in his neighborhood the day he learned to ride a bike; although just 10 houses down his block, he’d broken into never-before seen territory. After biking all around greater Binghamton, NY and driving to ski Stratton on weekends in winter, he started at Stratton after graduating SUNY Binghamton. Three years ago he was part of a group on resort that started The Activity Hub, where he eventually became the supervisor of The Hub and more recently the Nordic Center. He loves exploring Vermont’s trails but prefers “bush whacking” to find new hidden Green Mountain gems and writing biographies in third person.

Once Isn’t Enough – A Profile of Matthew McPhillips

By Courtney DiFiore

It’s a funny thing, mountain life. There’s an allure to it and the lifestyle engulfs all who take part. The atmosphere is electric and mellow all at once creating the perfect oxymoron. Matthew McPhillips experienced the pull of this energy in 2006 when he first moved to Stratton Mountain. Now, 8 years later, he is immersed in the mountain culture as the Head Golf Professional.

“I was fortunate enough to be given the keys to an operation at age 25, and I take great pride in that. The fact that I am now entering my fourth season [as Head Pro], living on the complete opposite side of the world to every member of my immediate family just goes to show my dedication to the position,” shares McPhillips.

There’s debate as to whether it’s something in the water, air or Kool Aid that infects those that find their way to the mountain, but one thing’s for sure, there’s something special going on at Stratton that keeps people coming back. All year long, license plates from around the North East and beyond turn up in our parking lots. Before visitors reach the mountain they begin to feel the magic of Southern Vermont. The rolling hills and vibrant colors of green set the stage for a true scenic trip.

“Being close to major cities is nice but being able to literally get in your car and drive nowhere in particular…that is a luxury that a lot of people cannot access in their urbanized lifestyles,” explains McPhillips. The bends and curves of Southern Vermont roads become hypnotic to travelers. Sights of native wildlife create excitement and that’s the moment mountain life sweeps you off your feet leaving you breathless and wanting more.

When McPhillips was asked what keeps him coming back to Stratton after all this time, his response was simple, “I love the work I do and the beautiful Green Mountain State that is Vermont. I’ve found the right balance between work and play enabling me to stay active on a daily basis.”

Everyone has their own reasons for sticking around and though different, the one thing they share is Stratton. Have you found your reason to keep coming back?

The Benefits of Not Training

team-watermelon-preraceOur guest blogger this month is Lauren, an RRCA certified coach and the mastermind behind Health on the Run. Her running and wellness blog has been a favorite among the sneakered set since 2010. Since then, she and her husband have started a new life (and a new family!) in Southern Vermont. Follow her adventures in running in the Green Mountains.

 

This blog was originally written in July 2013, but the content is timeless. Enjoy!

Some runners run purely for recreation. A few miles a couple of times a week, just to stay in shape/burn off calories/eat that extra slice (or three!) of pizza on Friday night.

While I can’t argue with the fact that these are great benefits (and I’ve used running to justify splurges more than once), I personally need more out of the sport. Like many of you reading this, I thrive off actively training — the goal setting, the hard work, the endorphins, the races. I complain about it sometimes (of course), but I generally like the structure of a training schedule. It keeps me accountable, keeps me motivated, and helps me feel accomplished. For the past several years, I’ve gone right from one training cycle to the next…hitting a goal, resetting, working towards another. I love the sense of order and consistency it brings to my life.

But that kind of schedule can also lead to burnout. And now that I’m not training (not really), I have to admit that there are some very nice benefits to the time off. Especially when it’s summer in Vermont, and you don’t have to worry about fitting in your long run when there’s all sorts of other fun outdoor adventures to be had.

I still set goals for myself each week. I track my workouts, and come up with a set number of days I want to run and a certain number of miles I want to hit. Of course it’s all sort of arbitrary at this point, but it’s really the only thing that keeps me motivated. And the structure brings a sense of normalcy to an otherwise crazy time.

Sometimes, however, it’s good to put those goals to the side…something that’s a lot easier to do when there’s no race on the line. No one really cares how many miles I run every week except for me, and running isn’t the only form of physical activity (sometimes it’s easy to forget this when I’m in the middle of a training cycle!). In fact, there are other things I like doing just as much.

cascade falls_1

Like spending the day hiking up a nearby mountain.

cascade falls_17weeks

It’s so funny to me how I can feel absolutely fine (and like my old self) while running a race, but not while walking at an easy pace…well, not when that walk involves climbing a mountain, anyway. I love hiking, but it’s embarrassing how easily I get out of breath now. And I don’t particularly like the fact that I’m lagging behind Evan the entire way.

But, other than my damaged pride, hiking really is a great workout. And I can’t think of many other ways I’d rather spend a day. If there ever comes a day when I give up running for good, I think I’ll just dedicate my life to hiking mountains all over the country.

On Saturday, we headed to Mt Ascutney, the site of the crazy trail race I ran last fall (but not the same trail). It was a tough, but beautiful hike. About halfway up, we stopped for lunch at the top of a waterfall. Eating sandwiches with our feet hanging off the edge of the “world” and the endless green mountains all around is basically my idea of heaven on earth.

weathersfield trail_cascadefalls lunch

cascade falls_viewPictures don’t really do it justice

The day was humid, but not overly hot, which made it perfect for hiking. And although it was a little cloudy at the top, the mountain ranges still seemed to stretch on forever.

Mt Ascutney_top

Have I mentioned lately just how much I love Vermont?

On our way back home, we happened to drive by an orchard advertising freshly picked berries. So we just had to stop to pick up some strawberries and blueberries, which we devoured within 24 hours (in the form of strawberry shortcake and blueberry pancakes).

The next day we continued our Vermont adventures by running from another waterfall…this time, one that’s a fairly well-known spot for swimming on hot summer days. We drove out there with our towels and ran an easy (hot!) 4 miles out and back from the falls. The sole purpose of the run was to work up enough of a sweat so that the icy cold water would actually feel refreshing.

Turns out, it’s going to take a lot more than a 4-mile run on a hot sunny July day to make that water feel good. It was so cold that going under momentarily took my breath away.

buttermilk falls

But there’s nothing quite like an ice bath in a Vermont river. I think if I could finish every run at a waterfall/swimming hole, I’d be way more likely to take regular ice baths during training.

IMG 3913

And if I can spend every weekend frolicking in the Green Mountains, I’d say life is pretty good. Living in Vermont has its downsides, but weekends like this past one remind me why we chose to live in this state…and how lucky we are to be here, no matter how long it ends up being.

And I have to admit that it makes me pretty happy to not have any sort of long race to train for. There will always be another training cycle. I plan to enjoy this downtime as much as I possibly can.

CONTEST: Look back to GoPro

Face it, you’re not ready to let go of winter. It’s okay. Neither are we.Instagram_memories4_600x600

Help keep winter alive by sharing your favorite memories from this past season. Share videos or photos of your best powder turns, bump runs, slalom gates, ski or snowboard school lessons and après… anything and everything that made your winter unforgettable. To sweeten the deal, one person will win a brand new GoPro HERO 3+ Silver.

To enter, share a photo or video of your best Stratton memory on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Include the hashtag #Strattitude and tag Stratton before 5pm on Wednesday, April 23 to be entered. The winner will be announced on Thursday, April 24.

The rules: you must own the rights to any photo or video you submit. Photos and video must be from Stratton or the Village. Enter as many times as you want, but only one will win.

Why We Love Spring Skiing

By Courtney DiFiore

HSP2013_8435Remember how excited you were on your first day of the season? Channel that excitement and read on. The end of the season is not the time to give up skiing and riding. Aside from a powder day, spring skiing is the best time (I’d say). Here’s why:

1. Fewer people. By the time April rolls around, people are already thinking of biking, golf and tennis so they won’t be taking your seat on the lift. So grab your best friends and take a road trip.HSP2013_0935-2400px
2. Discounts, discounts and more discounts.
3. Outdoor music, festivals, contests and more. If you’re looking for an excuse to wear a wacky costume (not that you need one – we welcome costumes all day, every day) the Annual Pond Skim is your event. What’s spring skiing without some water to glide across?
4. Snow conditions are awesome. We love powder, but I’d say second best is the soft, spring snow. Spring snow has an amazing texture created by a mixture of warm temps and sunshine. It’s simply wonderful.
ChristmasStorySnowsuit15. No more Ralphie from A Christmas Story. It’s time to shed those layers and rock some flannels and a goggle tan.
6. Longer days. Thanks to spring equinox, the days of shredding can be extended into the evening. When lifts stop spinning, build a backyard booter and keep the party going.
7. Outdoor fun. Après skiing becomes a party on the Grizzly’s deck, portable grills on the back porch and tailgates in the parking lot. It’s great to be outside this time of year.
8. Sunny, warm bluebird days!

Goggle Tan For All

By Courtney DiFiore

HSP Pond Skim 2
It’s that time of the season – spring skiing! Spring means Stratton’s Annual Pond Skim. This event is a personal favorite because it’s full of thrills, chills and spills. I also really like it for the costumes. After my failed crossing last year (look for me, I’m the pizza slice!), I’ve compiled some helpful tips to keep dry this time around.

  1. Be prepared to fall – hopefully you don’t but let’s not get over confident.
  2. DON’T speed check – wax your equipment.HSP Pond Skim 3
  3. Lean back – but not too far back.
  4. Go STRAIGHT – turning slows you down.
  5. Wear the most ridiculous outfit you can find – suggestions include anything neon, shiny attire, onesies, wigs and so on.
  6. Get your best friends to join you – the more the merrier.
  7. Bring an extra pair of clothes – you may need them.

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