As the snow continued to pummel the East Coast, my friends and I decided to explore the backcountry zone between Smuggler’s Notch and Stowe in Vermont.
Knowing that we had a big day ahead, I decided to wake up at a 5:00AM, getting ready as the quiet mountains remained dark. The group arrived at the parking lot of Mt Mansfield State Forest around 7:00AM, pulling out splitboards and triple checking our backpacks.
It had just snowed and this backcountry zone is known for having small slides so we were ready with our avalanche gear – beacons on and shovels and probes in our packs.
Soon it was time to start heading up the Notch Road (also known as Route 108), a fully functioning road in the summer that stays closed during the winter. We passed street signs and the trailhead for the famed Hellbrook Trail as we continued to skin up.
About a quarter of the way up it got too steep to skin so we continued our slog by bootpack, boards in hand.
At the top, we took a short break to change up our layers and then enjoyed fluffy snow through chutes and gullies as we explored on our way down.
We finished our day with hot chocolate and Sierra Nevada brews at the car, definitely tired yet definitely exhilarated.