Eclipse Car Trip Apr 5, 2024

Eclipse Car Trip Apr 5, 2024

From Phil Caracci on April 11 2024

April 5-8, 2024 Trip : What can possibly Eclipse this weekend???

Sorry but I had to get that word in the title… This 3-day car trip to our lodge was offered for skiing and for viewing the solar eclipse from within the Path of Totality. The day would become night and night would become day all in a 2-minute span. That’s rather unique by itself but combine that with excellent spring skiing conditions and you really have something memorable!

This is Miramar’s 75th year and it’s most likely the first time that a total solar eclipse would occur in the Mad River Valley. What should we expect? How should we manage the lodge usage? The wise leaders decided a bus trip would not be best since there might be multiple options for experiencing the eclipse and thus a car trip gave everyone an opportunity to do it their way. We wanted to have our cook on duty as the small local restaurants would never be able to handle the crush.

March of 2024 was very kind to the Green Mountains. There were several major storms measured in feet of snow in the weeks leading up to the eclipse, the last storm ending Friday morning.

Over the three days we had various groups skiing Sugarbush, Mad River Glen, Stowe and Killington. That’s one heck of a lineup! In addition the nordic skiers enjoyed the Von Trapp trails and some hikers found hills to conquer too. (and others went snowshoeing)

Spring skiing for those unfamiliar is a bit different. Generally the snow starts off firm and gradually softens to the point that by 2:30pm, most people would rather sit out in the sun with a beer than ski or ride on the “slush”. The cold winter wind is replaced with a gentle 50 degree breeze.

As the eclipse day approached the frenzy (everywhere) grew. Lawsons was even brewing a Path of Totality IPA just for this occasion!!! Every bed in the Miramar lodge was spoken for. A full house…. 53 people. Wow!

What may not have been completely anticipated is the number of cars to get all those people up here might exceed the number of parking spaces. We have more land but it was all covered in snow and blocked by the barrier created by the snow plow one day earlier.

The weekend was a sunny one… except for the actual moment of the eclipse! OK, not to overemphasize this…. But there were thin clouds following 2 days with no clouds at all. Some members & guests watched the eclipse from the lodge. Some “chasers” raced north and east to outrun the clouds and view it in clear skies.

I decided it was a ski day and decided to watch it halfway down from the summit on a completely empty trail. I was set up with a zoom lens and a tripod waiting for totality listening to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon album played by a live band at the Sugarbush base off in the distance.

… And if the cloud bursts thunder in your ear
You shout and no one seems to hear
And if the band you’re in starts playing different tunes
I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon

Ski Bus Trip Feb 23, 2024

Ski Bus Trip Feb 23, 2024

By Emily from Mar 27, 2024
This week’s trip began as always.  Us Manhattanites met at the large green doors of the Masonic Temple in Manhattan. I’m curious what goes on in there, but basically, it’s just a meeting spot and a place for Miramar members to store their skis. I’m still curious what goes on in there. Shortly after the bus ride begins, we’re offered little plastic cups of brandy by David, carrying the brandy around his neck and wearing a miner’s headlamp.  The bus ride to Vermont was jovial and fun.  We got into a conversation about the history of Miramar, and it’s rumored that in the 70s it served as a swingers’ club. Needless to say, it’s no longer a swingers’ club but a good number of members met and married on a Miramar ski trip. Just saying. 

Saturday morning, we got up bright and early and had a sumptuous breakfast of pretty much everything you could ask for– yogurt, toast, eggs, pancakes, muffins, peanut butter, etc. etc. We hit Sugarbush by 9am.  Conditions were, well, northeast ice, but not a skating rink and could have been worse. Sun was shining. I skied with a lovely group of talented skiers who were all a lot more elegant on ice than me, and I was beyond happy to ski with them. Lunch at the main lodge with a bunch of Miramartians.  Several more skiers joined our group in the afternoon, and we did more skiddy blues. I bailed after that and met the après ski group at Rumbles where we drank and compared ice experiences.

Big gap in my note taking but suffice it to say that that Saturday dinner was lovely. A whopping 13 first timers and second timers introduced themselves at dinner, and there were a bunch of new members as well. After dinner people lingered and socialized. I took the down time to do some work and went to bed early.

Sunday at Killington. Not too crazy icy. Again, I skied with a group of lovely, ice proficient and elegant skiers. I geeked out on ski technique, tried to understand ice and just chilled with the friendliest skiers on the Mountain. Total lack of recall on the rest of the trip, but I got home Sunday evening feeling physically tired but energized by a weekend of skiing and connected to my ski-loving brethren.

Ski Bus Trip Feb 23, 2024

Ski Bus Trip Mar 22, 2024

By Phil Caracci from Mar 26, 2024
Spring skiing is special. The days are longer, the biting winter wind & cold has subsided and the snowpack has deepened. Yes, you heard me… deepened. Often March is the snowiest month in VT. Certainly this year!

As the forecast picture started to form, the trip registration started to grow until we had nearly filled our 50-bed lodge. NYC was looking at a drenching rain but colder air up north indicated a very different picture. The snow started shortly after our arrival on Friday night and continued for about 24 hours! Every turn on Saturday at Sugarbush was leaving fresh tracks in the powder. Yep, real like-you-see-in-Utah powder!

The best of the best found their way to the Slide Brook Wilderness for some tree skiing which leaves you on a road between the two peaks where you can flag down a shuttle bus to get back to base. This was a first for most in that group. Truly an epic day of skiing.

Another unique aspect of this trip was that 3 of our members invited their adult daughters to join them adding to an already unusually youthful group. This is Miramar’s 75th season and if you wanted a glimpse into the future I think you might have seen it right here with an outstanding group of new members and guests that bonded almost immediately.

Our new chef Matt made sure we were well fed and ready for the following day. His crème brûlée french toast at breakfast is amazing!

A day of nonstop snow is great but for me, the day after that when the sun is out is even better. And so it was on Day 2 at Killington where 24” of new snow blanketed their 7 peaks. We woke up an extra 30 minutes earlier to get here and savor every minute of this amazing day. Wow!

As you might imagine, the bus ride home was LOUD. There was so much joy and excitement. How could we top this? There was one idea…. A Flash Mob dancing in the middle of the Thruway rest area!!! Crazy fun! And when we got rolling again it was time for some bus ride karaoke! “Sweet Caroline… good times never seemed so good, SO GOOD, SO GOOD!”

Every trip is different. You won’t always get fresh powder and a flash mob but when you do you know you’ve reached the pinnacle of weekend skiing in VT and since 1949, nobody does it better than the Miramar Ski Club.

Ski Bus Trip Jan 19, 2024

Ski Bus Trip Jan 19, 2024

By Phil Caracci from Jan 21, 2024

There’s cold and then there’s damn cold! What else could you call a weekend that stayed consistently between 0 and 10 degrees.

But we’re eastern skiers so we know there’s no bad weather, just bad preparation for it. But still…..

Northern VT was getting snow (finally) after a few weeks of warm air and rain closed a few trails. But I think we saw about 4 feet of new snow in the two weeks leading up to this weekend. I’ll take it!

While I am not a tree skier, it seems that is where the best snow could be found. A few folks headed into the Slide Brook Wilderness area and found their way down to the road where they were scooped up by the Sugarbush shuttle that runs from Mt Ellen to Lincoln Peak. Someday I’ll try this.

Besides the cold weather, the other thing that stands out in my mind was the relative quiet of this group. I’ve been in Miramar more than two decades and this stands out as perhaps the quietest bus ride ever! And even the after dinner party was less rowdy than most. And no game of Left/Right/Center either!

Continuing on this theme, it was easy to talk at dinner but I attribute that to the sound absorbing panels that Richard, Chris and John installed in our dining room 2 weeks prior on a Work Weekend.

2023-4 continues to be the season of try-outs to be the club’s new cook. This weekend’s kitchen team is certainly a strong contender! Stay tuned to see who lands this coveted job.

Day 2 was still all about the cold. The mountain was cold, the bus was cold and someone said their pajamas were cold too. Should I explain?

I went to Mt Ellen, a.k.a. Sugarbush North, for the first time this winter. It started out sunny with no wind at the base. But halfway up the GMX the wind kicked into high gear and in a matter of minutes all lifts here were shut down. Brrr! Fortunately a short time later I was gliding down the slopes at Lincoln Peak and there was no wind at all. Only 2 miles apart but very different conditions!

Our ride home did involve a mechanical failure that left us with a cold bus. But that too was fixed as we crossed paths with a much warmer bus and arrived home on time and had the chance to make new friends too.

And as for the cold pajamas….. well maybe I’ll leave you guessing! LOL

Ski Bus Trip Dec 8, 2023

Ski Bus Trip Dec 8, 2023

By Phil Caracci from Dec 10, 2023

The emotions leading up to the first trip of the ski season have elements of the first day of a new semester in school as well as  the premier of a heavily-hyped movie.  There is expectation of greatness because you’ve been talking about it for months. “Winter is coming!”  “Think snow!!”  Like school, we know we will see our “classmates” again. The old routine will become the new routine but this year we may have some different “teachers”.

OK, I’m done trying to make this analogy work!  LOL. By now you figured out that classmates is in fact fellow members of this ski club and the teachers represent the employees, in this case the cook and the bus driver to name a few.

Carolyn, who cooked for us for 28 years, retired over the Summer and now we will discover what’s  next. But before we talk about food, let’s talk about snow.

The 23-24 ski season got off to an above average start.  There were a few good snow storms at the end of November and into the first week of December and even Mad River Glen, which relies on natural snow, opened up a day or two before my first ski day in VT.

There is always a lot of excitement for Opening Day of the Miramar season but the anticipated good conditions amped it up even more. And Saturday’s skiing at Sugarbush did not disappoint!  It was so good to see the gang and do what we do again!  Great snow!

Our cook that weekend was a new face for most of us and he delivered superbly crafted meals. Nobody left the table hungry!

As a special treat this weekend I invited Steve Joslin to come for dinner and talk about his family’s history in the Valley.

Steve has recently been part of a local project called “Take Me Back” where he, and others, were interviewed on a local TV station to tell the story of the early days of Waitsfield.

The Joslin family has a library named after them and a road and perhaps some other places too.  But it’s special for Miramar because the ski lodge was once the Old Joslin Mill in the early 1900’s.

Steve told the story of how the hydraulic powered mill got water from the Mad River to grind the grain and that same flow continued on to power a saw mill right next to it.  In 1944 a fire burned both structures, The following year another structure was built on the mill’s foundation but it was now used to sell 100 pound bags of feed for cattle.

While club members like to say the lodge was once a mill the reality is it was once a “bag feed store” (built on the foundation of a mill).  Not as exciting as it being a grist mill!!! LOL

Saturday was such a good day that few of us seemed to care that it rained rather convincingly on Sunday before changing over to more snow by night.

Any time you engage in an outdoor activity you have no choice but to accept the weather you get. One thing I have found consistently is that skiers and snowboarders seem to just roll with it instead of complaining about that which cannot be changed.

This season just started.  We know there will be many more good days to come.

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