An annual spring-skiing roadtrip has been a long tradition in this Jones household, first with my twin sons from grade school into their college years. My sweetheart Marilyn, who loves skiing as much as I do, and I have been taking a spring trip together ever since we met.
This year, however, Marilyn had strained the medial collateral ligament in her right knee in an otherwise minor skiing mishap in late February and was advised to stay off skis for the remainder of the season. That made it hard to justify the usual roadtrip routine of ski, eat, ski, eat, sleep, ski. . . .
Since she couldn't ski, I felt she needed to be pampered with rooms that were above the clean, comfortable and convenient we normally look for, first-class health clubs, hot tubs and heated pools and spa treatments, preferably with shopping, entertainment and excellent restaurants nearby, so she'd have something to do while I (of course) skied as much as possible on the biggest, burliest, best spring-skiing mountains around.
There are lots of nice places to stay in ski country, and lots of great places to ski, but very few that meet all those criteria. Our first two nights of this luxury getaway were at the Mirror Lake Inn in Lake Placid, N.Y. just a few minutes from Whiteface.
At the Mirror Lake Inn, the lobby had a tasteful display honoring Olympic skier Andrew Weibrecht's bronze medal performance in Super G. Andrew is the son of the Inn's owners, and it was easy to share in their parental pride.
Mirror Lake Inn and Lake Placid had absolutely everything we were looking for: The beautiful room and view, including three deer bounding across the frozen lake early one morning, were conducive to her just relaxing when that was what she wanted to do. The gym and health spa were perfect for her rehab exercises and recovery, all the shops of Lake Placid were just a short shuttle ride away when she wanted to escape. Lake Placid also has a wonderful variety of restaurants. One night we ate at Lisa G's which we visit every time we are in the area for the friendly neighborhood feel and tasty "comfort food." The other night we splurged for her birthday and ate at The View restaurant in the Mirror Lake Inn, which is elegant fine dining as good as you'll find anywhere.
While she was enjoying the Inn, I was hammering all 3,166 vertical feet of lift-serviced terrain on Whiteface on the most perfect spring snow imaginable-soft yet firm and fast under bright sunshine warm enough to ski in just a vest. It doesn't get any better than that. Whiteface is one of the defining mountains of eastern skiing and riding. If you haven't tried it, put it very high on your "must visit" list.
The next two nights we spent at the new Stowe Mountain Lodge right at the base of Stowe Mountain Resort in Stowe, Vt. Stowe Mountain Lodge is the ultimate in slopeside comfort: quiet, elegant, with a service and amenities beyond what you'd expect at even a "luxury" hotel. And all the fun stuff of Stowe villages is nearby. She loved it all, the room, the health club, the spa, everything. There are too many wonderful restaurants in Stowe to visit in a week, including the excellent Solstice, right in the Lodge. We ate one night at the Red Basil, an excellent (and affordable) Thai restaurant at the edge of Stowe Village, and one night at Trapp Family Lodge where a new team has completely revitalized the restaurant and turned it into one of our favorites whenever we are in the area (if the grilled Arctic Char is still on the menu, don't miss it!).
I got to ski Stowe, of course, another of the defining mountain of the east. Once again I had absolutely perfect spring conditions. The spring skiing this year has been as good as I've ever seen it.
After Stowe, we spent our last night in a comfortable condo at Smugglers Notch in Jeffersonville, Vt. One step closer to reality . . .
Smuggs, too, delivered fabulous spring skiing, which I savored with the last ounces of energy left in my legs. Smuggs is noted for its kids programs, but it also has some of the most varied and challenging terrain anywhere.
There are a couple of excellent restaurants at Smuggs, including the Hearth and Candle and Morse Mountain Grill, but we eased down the hill about a mile to enjoy the high-quality comfort food at Three Mountain Lodge, which we will definitely re-visit. As we left for home we stopped for a scrumptious brunch at 158 Main in Jeffersonville, another go-to favorite.
There's an awkward moment each year when the snow on the slopes is still deep, the lifts are turning, lift ticket discounts are everywhere, the sun is shining and it really is the very best skiing and riding of the year. But the snow in the lowlands is either gone or going fast. People are thinking about gardening, golfing, baseball, biking, and other such things that we have to make do with until it's time to ski and ride again.
Like all the other fanatics, I'll be out on the slopes for at least another month at places like Killington, Wildcat, and Sunday River that hang on until the very end, and then skinning up and skiing down closed areas until there's no more snow to be found . . . Hope to see you out there!
If you still want to read about skiing and riding (and other outdoors sports both winter and summer) you can visit my web site www.EasternSlopes.com. Or you can just get out and enjoy. There's still snow on the slopes. What are you waiting for?