Vermont is home to some of the oldest ski areas in the United States. They crisscross the big, rolling mountains with runs that cut through the seemingly endless New England hardwood forests. It’s this unique combination of pioneering ski history and the abundance of maple trees that creates the unique flavor of skiing found only in the great state of Vermont.
While western resorts steal most of the limelight when talking about skiing in the US, some areas in Vermont boast more snowfall and longer seasons than their Rocky Mountain counterparts. Killington, which hosted a stop on the FIS World Cup earlier this season, is often one of the first resorts in the country to start spinning their lifts for the public. Lesser known areas Jay Peak and Sugarbush are in the heart of Vermont’s snow belt, and stack up powder days that keep skiers grinning from ear to ear.
The latter, Sugarbush, is the perfect intersection of Vermont culture. Not only is it one of the best skiing hills in the state, its very name speaks to one thing for which Vermont is best known—maple syrup. A ‘sugar bush’ is a term that refers to a stand of maple trees tapped for its sugary sap and used in the production of syrup. And it’s when the days start getting longer and warmer in late winter and early spring that the area really starts coming into its own.
When the springtime sun rises high in the sky, the icy grip of New England winter starts thawing, giving way to fun corn skiing and maple sugaring. The slopes invite skiers to enjoy the abundant snow, now softened by the warmer weather, and the maple sap starts flowing providing the liquid gold that Vermonters use to turn just about anything into a delicious treat. The unique elements of skiing and maple sugaring come together and serve up an especially sweet Vermont springtime extravaganza.
‘Sugar on snow’ is a long running tradition that embodies spring in Vermont. Back in the old days, folks would literally dish up a portion of corn snow and pour a highly concentrated dose of maple syrup over the top. These days, the concoction is more commonly made with a little more sanitary crushed ice, but the result is largely the same. When the ice and maple are stirred together, it forms a chewy, frozen treat that is one of the sweetest things of the season. It literally and figuratively embodies the flavor of Vermont.
John Atkinson is a Vermont local and a senior photographer and snow reporter for Sugarbush Resort. And like most Vermonters, John has a personal relationship with maple syrup and might well be considered a connoisseur of all things to do with this sweet New England treat. https://atkinson-photo.smugmug.com/