We woke up to snow in the mountains, so we decided to shift our rollerski workout to a ski walking threshold workout at Mt. Ellen. The morning was super cold, and we started on bare ground looking just uphill at snow. Some of it was natural, but we walked right by a serious snowmaking operation in the works. They are already gearing up for some GMVS alpine training on the hill, preparing for after the Colorado trip ends.
|Snow guns adding to natural snow at the Kelly Brush Arena.|
We ski walked up the service road, finding more and more snow as we got higher. The day was perfect, with good temperatures for winter exercise. Fall is officially over in Vermont!
Our goal for the day was to do 4 10-minute threshold intervals up the mountain. It’s a lot easier to get to threshold when you’re moving uphill, so we thought a lot about technique and efficiency to keep us moving up smoothly and without spiking the heart rate.
As we got into higher elevations, the day revealed itself to be spectacular. We had amazing views over to Camels Hump and Mansfield, which also had a good frosting on top. Looking east, we could clearly make out the Presidential Range in New Hampshire.
At the midway point, we found a sweet layer of rime on all the trees, and some seriously drifted snow in the ditches.
|If you look closely enough, you can see three dark figures hammering up under the lift towers.|
At some point, Ian, Dev, and Maddy realized that they could probably summit Mt. Ellen. They pushed on, going directly up the lift line towards the top, often wading through some pretty good snow drifts.
Eliot made it most of the way up, took in the view from the lifthouse, knocked some hoar frost off a few chairs, and cruised back down the mountain.
|Not a bad day on the mountain!|
|Looking over the snowless Mad River Valley at the White Mountains, which are just left of center in the distance.|
|Looking off towards Camels Hump (center) and Mansfield (right).|
|Another look east towards the Whites, which can’t match the incredible white in the foreground.|
|I stopped short of the top, but Ian, Dev, and Maddy finished their fourth interval within fifteen seconds of the summit. They are celebrating an incredible 360 degree view with arms raised.|
We’ve only got a few days left in the Valley before we head out for our grand Western tour, and it will be pretty hard to leave this stuff. This was one of the more incredible hikes that I have been on since being at GMVS, and we’ve been all over the US and Europe. We can get pretty special stuff close to home.
|The three summit-ers just below the top.|
After taking our summit photos, we realized that we had 30 minutes before lunch, so we jackrabbited our way back down the mountain. We made it down in about 20 minutes, changed clothes, hopped in the van and made it back in time for Mac and Cheese, salad, and sandwiches in the dining hall. Pretty sweet morning all in all!
|Cruising down one of the final pitches in the last of the deep snow.|