Staytripper, March 2021

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MARCH 2021


Mad About Maple Sugarhouse sweets worth the drive


Gimme Shelter Book a night in a backcountry hut


Chill Power

Winter dipping in Lake Champlain


Erin Dupuis


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Marching On

M A RCH 2021

Springtime is just around the corner, on March 20. That’s not the only turning point in sight: Effective this week, people who are fully vaccinated and at least 14 days out from their final vaccine dose can now travel to and from Vermont without quarantine restrictions. As more folks are able to explore the state, Staytripper continues to present safe options for dining, entertainment and outdoor recreation. Local travel has long been embraced by Vermont’s 251 Club, which challenges participants to visit every single town and city in the state. Not surprisingly, the pandemic has brought a surge in new members eager to discover hidden gems close to home. In this issue, we hear stories from the club’s nearly 70-year history. Speaking of driving, we recommend a maple-themed road trip this time of year — Vermont’s sugarhouse treats go way beyond syrup. Or you could experience creative outdoor dining: You might be surprised by the space heater, firepit and igloo options at local restaurants. Prefer to commune with nature? Strap on your skis or snowshoes and traipse along a farm trail, or head to a rustic cabin in the woods. Or go jump in an ice-cold lake — Scandinavians aren’t the only ones doing it these days.

ROADS LESS TRAVELED............ 4 The 251 Club encourages Vermonters to explore the state BY ALISON NOVAK

SUGARHOUSE HIGH ................. 6


Five unexpected maple treats worth the drive BY JORDAN BARRY

CABIN FERVOR........................... 8 Vermont Huts Association offers year-round, remote and pandemic-safe lodgings







COLD COMFORT........................ 10 Dining al fresco — à la winter in Vermont 14


• Burlington


10 8

8 Huntington

• DESTINATIONS Trapp Family Lodge Outdoor Center ... 14




Montpelier Fayston

• 8



Vermont Farm Trail Network .............. 15

St. Johnsbury

Waterbury Center





Winter Dipping in Lake Champlain...... 14 ON THE COVER: Tyler Van Liew and Hannah Bush at Vermont Huts Association’s Bryant Camp in Bolton Valley








Exploring the state? Follow the pins to find the fun in this issue.








Roads Less Traveled The 251 Club encourages Vermonters to explore the state BY AL ISON NOVA K •


ontpelier resident Brenda Greika has settled into a weekend routine during the pandemic. She packs up her car with ample food and drinks, pops a Starline Rhythm Boys or Patti Casey CD into her player, and drives to a Vermont town she’s never been to before. To celebrate Halloween, Greika visited Evergreen Cemetery in New Haven to see a gravestone with a window built into it. It belongs to 19th-century doctor Timothy Clark Smith, who feared being buried alive and was reportedly entombed with a hammer. In January, Greika ended up at the NorthWoods Stewardship Center in East Charleston, where she communed with a barred owl. Sometimes, she’ll just turn down a dirt road to see where it leads. “You’re going to meet cows, moose, deer,” she said. “Eventually, you’ll pop out in some of the most amazing places you’ve seen in your life.” Greika is a member of the 251 Club of Vermont, an organization composed of 4,200 people who share the same goal: visiting all 251 towns and cities in the state. Greika joined the club in the late 1980s and now sits on its board of directors. She described it as “one of my saving graces” during the pandemic. The club was founded more than 65 years ago by Vermont Life contributor Dr. Arthur Wallace Peach. In 1954, inspired by readers’ queries about how they could know “the real Vermont,” Peach proposed an informal group encouraging Vermonters and those who loved the state “to discover the secret and lovely places that main roads do not reveal.” For decades, the club included a large number of older, retired members, said executive director Stephanie Young. The Burlington resident took the wheel in January 2020 with a goal of making the organization more accessible to a broader audience. Before Young — a law professor who teaches online for Purdue University Global — took charge, joining the club 4


required filling out a paper form and mailing in a check. She implemented an online payment system and launched Facebook and Twitter accounts to establish a social media presence. The club’s quarterly newsletter is now delivered to members digitally, as well as in its original paper form. In the past year, said Young, more families and young people have joined. Take Burlington High School senior Parker Ballard, who signed up last spring to combat the boredom of remote learning. By fall, he’d checked the last town off his list. The club, which counts Gov. Phil Scott and U.S. Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) among its rank and file, has been around long enough that it now has second-generation members. Burlington resident Thom Fleury, a principal at Leicester Central School, learned about the organization from

his parents, early members who completed the mission as retirees. It took Fleury 11 years — from 1987 to 1998 — to reach 251. In each town he visited, Fleury sent himself a postcard with a message detailing his visit. He keeps those postcards, alphabetized by town, in a library card catalog at his home and periodically flips through them. One of his favorite 251 Club activities was visiting rustic roadside eateries. He recalled a particularly good breakfast at the Busy Bee Diner in Glover. His least favorite trip? The one in which he picked up a speeding ticket. At a post office in Beecher Falls, a town near the Canadian border with a population of about 200, an

INFO Learn more about the 251 Club of Vermont at Membership costs $22 for one year or $58 for five years.


affable postmistress greeted Fleury in French. Since she didn’t recognize him as one of the townspeople, he explained, she must have assumed he was a tourist from north of the border. Young said club members — roughly 88 percent of whom live in Vermont — have displayed ample creativity in how they carry out their visits. One walked through every town, racking up a total of 1,666 miles over 606 hours. Another hit a golf ball in each of the places he visited. And then there are newlyweds Loretta Cruz and Aaron Agnew of South Royalton, who joined the club last summer after their planned hon-

eymoon to Maine’s Acadia National Park fell through due to COVID-19. Instead, they spent time exploring Bennington and Rutland counties, checking towns off their list. Young isn’t just the leader of the 251 Club; she’s also an active member. In the eight years her family has lived in Vermont, they’ve visited 122 towns. Recently, she said, they took a weekend trip to the southern part of the state, hitting another eight towns. In Rockingham, they visited the Vermont Country Store and bought truffles and old-timey Charles Chips to snack on during their drive. In Grafton, they got a grilled cheese at the town’s general store, MKT: Grafton, that was so delicious they’re

still talking about it. And in Stratton, they went snow tubing, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Young’s two school-age sons especially liked Mountain Sweets, the candy store in the center of town. “The club is so appealing because it’s a challenge, and it gets you out there to discover the parts of Vermont you might not have discovered,” she said.

Take a snow break with us! We are on VAST Corridor 7, between Jay Peak and Smuggler’s Notch.


If you love Vermont, she’ll love you back. Just go out there and feel the love. BRENDA GREIKA

Some destinations are notorious among club members, Young noted. Lewis, population zero, is so difficult to find that members often leave it until the end. And Glastenbury is part of the “Bennington Triangle,” said Greika — an area known for its spooky and strange happenings. Greika is saving that town for last; if aliens abduct her, she said with a laugh, she’ll at least have visited all 251 towns. Though she was born in Connecticut, Greika said Vermont has her heart. “Every town has their own little specialty — either food, arts or musicians,” she said. “To me, if you love Vermont, she’ll love you back. Just go out there and feel the love.”

Top row: View of McCullough Turnpike on Route 17; painted silos in Cambridge (photos courtesy of Matt and Ann Parsons) Middle row: Brenda Greika with a barred owl in East Charleston (courtesy of Brenda Greika); Eve Ermer and Scott Russell at Lewis Pond Overlook (courtesy of Eve Ermer and Scott Russell); Arlington welcome sign (courtesy of Pat and John Williams); Boardman Hill Road in West Rutland (courtesy of Kristen Jarvi); Kathy and Charles Giurtino in Montpelier (courtesy of Charles and Kathy Giurtino); Lake Dunmore (courtesy of Stephanie Young) Bottom: Pat and John Williams upon completing all 251 towns and two gores (courtesy of Pat and John Williams)

ow n WHAT?

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STAY SAFE, STAY ACTIVE The Seven Days team has reenvisioned our weekly Notes On the Weekend newsletter to include creative, constructive and fun ways to spend your time from a safe social distance. From virtual yoga classes to delicious recipes to day trips, there is something for everyone asking, “NOW what?” SUBSCRIBE AT SEVENDAYSVT.COM SEVEN DAYS STAYTRIPPER MARCH 2021 6V-NowWhat1220.indd 1

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Sugarhouse High Five unexpected maple treats worth the drive S T ORY & PHOTOS BY J ORDAN B ARRY •

Left: Bragg Farm’s maple kettle corn, maple sundae made with ingredients from Morse Farm, Vivid Coffee’s Sugar Shack blend, the Gateway Farm’s maple butter and Woodnose’s Sacré.


ere’s a totally unsurprising piece of trivia: In 2020, Vermont was the top mapleproducing state in America — again. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, our maple trees pumped out more than half of the country’s crop, resulting in a record-breaking 2.22 million gallons of syrup. The Vermont Maple Sugar Makers’ Association has canceled its annual Maple Open House Weekend for the second year in a row due to the pandemic, but sap is still flowing and there are plenty of ways to tap into the spirit of sugaring season. We took a scenic drive into the sugarbush to try five maplebased products that go beyond syrup (though there’s plenty of that, too). 6


Buttered Up The Gateway Farm, 506 N. 116 Rd., Bristol,

When you pull into the driveway of the Gateway Farm, don’t be surprised if curious cows across the street are eyeing you. They’ll keep watch as you head into the tiny, rustic self-serve farmstand. Inside, if you’re lucky, an old Pepsi fridge will be stocked with the farm’s ever-popular maple butter ($7). The diversified operation, which is split by Route 116 in Bristol Flats, also sells its pasture-raised meats, eggs, maple, birch syrup and other local products. But the maple butter is really worth the drive. The combination of pure maple syrup and salted butter is distinct from

Maple butter from the Gateway Farm

traditional maple cream, which is essentially spreadable maple syrup. The butter adds a richness that mimics

a melty, slightly salty maple caramel. Who wouldn’t want to spread that on some toast for breakfast?

Creemee Season Morse Farm Maple Sugarworks, 1168 County Rd., Montpelier, 800-242-2740,

A snowy scene at Morse Farm Maple Sugarworks

The creemee window at Morse Farm may have snowbanks piled up on both sides, but don’t let that stop you from grabbing a late-winter cone — just knock on the window or call to let them know you’re there. Inside, the farm’s sprawling gift shop is open seven days a week all year round, and you can order frozen maple treats along with a hot coffee or tea to balance your internal temperature. If you’re worried about eating a creemee in the car — or simply want to stock up — the store offers to-go pints ($4.79). For a DIY sundae in the comfort (and warmth) of your own home, don’t leave without a bag of maple-covered kettle corn ($2.25) and a variety of candies sold in a “maple bento box” ($11.95). They range from soft, stretchy taffy kisses to gemlike drops.


Bragg Farm Sugarhouse & Gift Shop

Bragg Farm Sugarhouse & Gift Shop, 1005 Route 14, East Montpelier, 223-5757,

COVID-19 has made the experience at this classic maple stop more Vermonty than ever: Private tastings now take place in an unheated annex to the gift shop, where customers can sample the syrup spectrum from light to dark among stacks of old sap buckets — and away from other people. Posters about the sugarmaking process and the chemical

composition of pure maple syrup provide educational reading material as you contemplate the merits of each grade. After you’ve chosen a favorite, head into the shop to grab a gallon to take home. But beware: Maple-coated treats abound, and the massive bucket of kettle corn ($6.95) is nearly impossible to resist. Its salty-sweet crunch is ideal for car snacking — as long as you’ve got hand sanitizer.

Bean There, Drank That

Nose for New

Vivid Coffee, 150 Cherry St., Burlington,

Woodnose, Branon Family Maple Orchards, 539 Branon Rd., Fairfield, 827-3914,

Technically, Vivid Coffee’s new café just off of Church Street isn’t in the woods. And no, the coffee roaster’s signature Sugar Shack blend doesn’t actually contain any maple. But if you’re heading off on a maple road trip, it’s a good idea to stop in for thematically appropriate fuel. The maple-like sweetness of the Sugar Shack blend makes for a delightful espresso experience on its own, if that’s your style. Taking it up a notch, the Sugar Shack latte ($6) — espresso, oat milk, maple syrup and coconut-maple whipped cream, available hot or frozen — is the perfect drink to put in your cupholder. Thinking ahead to tomorrow’s mapledrenched pancake breakfast? A bag of freshly roasted beans ($11) will certainly Inside Vivid Coffee perk things up.

A sign opposite the long driveway up to the Branon Family Maple Orchards sugarhouse proclaims that the solar-powered, multigenerational family business is “tapping the sun.” Now, part of the family has also started tapping into the booming nonalcoholic spirits market. A corner table in the sugarhouse’s well-stocked store displays tall, slender, brightly labeled bottles of Woodnose’s Sacré ($35 for 750ml). Justin and Roger Branon Rodriguez craft the zero-proof aperitif from the Branon family’s organic maple syrup, which is fermented with a vinegar mother and aged in bourbon barrels. That elixir is combined with fair trade, shade-grown coffee and fresh maple syrup. The result is a complex, tangy nonalcoholic beverage that’s enjoyable as is — like sipping a booze-free amaro — or mixed into a mocktail or cocktail. Bottles from the 2020 vintage are also available at Winooski’s Beverage Warehouse, if a drive to Fairfield isn’t in the cards. No matter where you get it, Sacré puts a whole new spin on maple.

The shop at Branon Family Maple Orchards




Cabin Fervor

Chittenden Brook Hut

Vermont Huts Association offers year-round, remote and pandemic-safe lodgings BY K EN P IC A R D •


ven before the pandemic, getting into the woods and staying there for days at a time was the ultimate form of social distancing. The Green Mountain State is blessed with miles of backcountry trails for hiking, mountain biking, snowshoeing and skiing. But until recently, people who wanted to turn a one-day outing into an overnight or multiday adventure had to haul all their shelter, cooking and winter warming gear with them. Not anymore. In the last few years, the Vermont Huts Association has been steadily building its catalog of year-round, remote accommodations that allow outdoor enthusiasts to spend more time exploring the state’s natural beauty and less time driving from one trailhead to another. “It’s exciting. Things have grown each year,” said RJ Thompson, executive director of the Stowe-based nonprofit. “COVID has really turned on a lot of Vermonters to exploring their backyards and neighboring opportunities.” 8


Since the pandemic began, the VHA’s network of cabins, huts, yurts and lodges has enabled Vermonters to, as its website proclaims, “play safely with your trusted pod.” Thompson estimates that bookings increased 30 percent over the same period of the previous year. Reservations are completely sold out through this winter and into early April. Thompson, 37, is a University of Vermont graduate who started the VHA, with cofounder Devin Littlefield, in August 2016. Two years later, the group partnered with Yestermorrow Design/Build School in Waitsfield to construct its flagship cabin, the Chittenden Brook Hut in the Green Mountain National Forest. The cabin was finally completed on November 30, 2018; its first guests arrived the very next day. Today, the VHA leases eight huts in the backcountry and sidecountry. The latter term refers to locations where visitors can park their vehicle and reach the hut relatively quickly, without a several-mile excursion. The

INFO The Vermont Huts Association will begin accepting spring and summer reservations in mid-March. Learn more at


Nulhegan Confluence Cabin

It’s just a really surreal getaway … It’s real primitive and rustic. PAUL HAYES

Chittenden Brook Hut

“They all offer unique vibes and different recreational opportunities, depending upon what your preference is,” Thompson said. However, you don’t need to be an accomplished backcountry camper or endurance athlete to enjoy the VHA’s huts. The day after Christmas 2019, Paul Hayes of Bolton took his then-10-year-old daughter, Harper, to Bryant Camp, which sleeps as many as 10 people. While his daughter used snowshoes, Hayes skied in, pulling behind them a sled with their food and gear. In all, he estimated, it took them only about 30 minutes to get there. “The beauty of Bryant is, it’s just a really surreal getaway,” Hayes recalled. Father and daughter arrived after dark in the freezing cold, then grabbed some wood and started a fire. “After a couple hours, it was like 70 degrees in there. It’s real primitive and rustic.” In the long term, Thompson envisions the VHA offering hut-to-hut adventures, through which hikers, skiers, paddlers and mountain bikers can travel from one hut to the next, covering dozens of miles each day. In winter, you can already ski from Bryant Camp to Bolton Lodge to Crow’s Nest Yurt to Triple Creek Cabin — with little or no need to ever leave the trail. m



accommodations include the Nulhegan Confluence Hut in the Northeast Kingdom, located a mere 300-yard walk, ski or snowshoe from Route 105 near Bloomfield. The VHA’s huts wouldn’t qualify as glamping, but they’re definitely a step above tents and lean-tos. Though each hut is unique, Thompson explained, they all provide a heat source, such as a wood or propane stove, to keep guests warm in the winter, as well as cut firewood. Some huts provide a cooking source, such as a propane grill; a kitchen outfitted with bowls, plates, pots, pans and utensils; and lofts, bunk beds or sleeping platforms with padded mattresses. Visitors must bring their own sleeping bags and, during COVID-19, sheets to cover the mattresses, as well. Sanitizing sprays and wipes are provided. None of the huts has running water — guests either carry theirs in or gather it from snowmelt or nearby streams — and most have no electricity. The Chittenden Brook Hut has a light-duty, off-grid solar panel to power indoor lights but no outlets for charging devices. All the huts have an outhouse or composting privy. The VHA doesn’t own all the huts it rents. Rather, it’s steadily building partnerships with other nonprofit groups — including the Catamount Trail Association, the Green Mountain Club, the Velomont Trail Collective and the Vermont River Conservancy — as well as governmental agencies and private landowners, to create a statewide network of huts. As Thompson put it, “Without the trail network, the hut network doesn’t really exist.” In fact, the single most important criterion the VHA considers when deciding whether to add a new hut is the recreational opportunity nearby. All rentals are located either trailside or along a spur that’s part of a larger trail network. Triple Creek Cabin and Crow’s Nest Yurt, both in Huntington, as well as Bolton Lodge and Bryant Camp in Bolton Valley, are situated along the Catamount Trail or close to it, making them popular destinations for backcountry skiers. Chittenden Brook Trail, in the Green Mountain National Forest near Chittenden, is off a spur of the Long Trail. And Merck Forest & Farmland Center in Rupert has a series of cabins located on more than 3,100 acres of managed forest, a working farm and a sugaring operation. Even the VHA’s sidecountry huts offer unparalleled outdoor options. The Nulhegan Confluence Hut sits along the Nulhegan River, part of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail. In warmer weather, the hut can be reached via canoe or kayak from the river’s headwaters in Island Pond. It provides paddlers with water access to the Connecticut River, as well as the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge.


Triple Creek Cabin

Triple Creek Cabin



Cold Comfort Dining al fresco — à la winter in Vermont BY SA L LY P OL L A K •


n a 9 degree day in Burlington, Dan Bornstein and his girlfriend took a seat on the patio at Zero Gravity Craft Brewery to drink a couple of beers. The Pine Street brewery has installed electric heaters above the tables in the outdoor space it shares with the Great Northern restaurant. “I have no problem with it,” Bornstein, 28, said of drinking a beer in single-digit weather. “I’m a local and a snowboarder. They have heated seating, too. That’s pretty awesome.” A Burlington resident who works in transportation logistics, Bornstein said he’s staying away from indoor dining establishments during the pandemic. But having an outdoor beer on a sunny day is enjoyable — even in winter. “We’re trying to get out and feel some sense of normalcy,” Bornstein added, emphasizing that he 10


wears a mask and maintains social distance. “[And] supporting the local economy is huge.” Northern New England is not the first place you’d pick to dine outside this time of year. Frigid temperatures, snow and wind aren’t exactly conducive to settling in for a leisurely meal. Still, Donnell Collins, chef-owner of Leunig’s Bistro & Café on Burlington’s Church Street, said that during the holidays, especially, folks sat outdoors at tables framed by gas-flamed lanterns. “People bundled up in snow gear and sat out there and had drinks,” she observed. Innovations installed by Vermont restaurants for winter dining include unheated tent areas, outdoor space heaters and firepits. Two resorts erected plastic-covered domes, called dining igloos, equipped with space heaters. Even with these adaptations, dining out comes

with a certain level of risk for coronavirus transmission, according to Tim Lahey, an infectious disease physician at the University of Vermont Medical Center. The safest way to eat a restaurant meal during the pandemic is to order takeout, Lahey wrote in an email to Seven Days. He rated the risk level of various dining scenarios, from lowest to highest, as follows: • Not going out at all • Getting takeout • Eating or drinking outside and apart from others • Eating in a semiprivate dining room used by others recently • Eating in a crowded dining room (Lahey also noted that the risk of each scenario could vary depending on factors such as the


Warm Whiskey on the Patio Juniper at Hotel Vermont, 41 Cherry St., Burlington, 651-5027,

On a recent Friday evening as I left our house for a cocktail on the patio of Juniper, my daughter offered this advice: “Good luck, Mom. Don’t get COVID or frostbite.” I am pleased to report that I acquired neither on a relatively balmy February evening — 36 degrees — following a brutal cold spell. As I entered the bar, I gave my contact information to a hostess, then proceeded to the plexiglass-shielded bar and asked for a hot toddy. I couldn’t remember the last time I had ordered a drink at a bar, and it was something of a wonder to watch the bartender at work. I applauded her mixing skills and felt extra admiration for her courage in serving people

(including visitors from out of state) in a pandemic. Soon, I was outside on the patio, cupping a glass mug of warm whiskey and bitters. The outdoor tables were occupied, including by a jolly foursome in one corner and a couple and their goldendoodle at a two-top. In the center of the space, a group of about six people sat in Adirondack chairs around a gaspowered firepit. Standing by the door to the bar, I overheard their conversation about pods and quarantines. Sipping my drink, I gazed at the lights strung around the patio. When the weather cooperates, such as on the night I visited, people gravitate outside, a bartender told me. The patio has recently acquired space heaters. COLD COMFORT

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number of people at the establishment, whether the dining party is strictly limited to household members, and the local incidence of the virus.) He classified dining igloos as “likely an intermediate risk” and explained why: “Importantly, since we know SARS-CoV-2 can hang in the air for a long time … there is still risk that new diners could inhale the air just recently exhaled by previous diners.” For those who want to brave the elements for food and drink, here are a few options.

Above and right: The firepit on Juniper’s patio SEVEN DAYS STAYTRIPPER MARCH 2021


Cold Comfort « P.11 S’mores Around the Bonfire Zenbarn, 179 Guptil Rd., Waterbury Center, 888-936-2276,

Individual s’mores kits and prerolled hemp joints are among the goodies at Zenbarn in Waterbury Center. In its ample outdoor space, stones placed six feet apart around a bonfire function as rustic seats. Space heaters and a wood-burning stove also provide warmth. Patrons are welcome to eat outdoors at the restaurant, which serves fried chicken and waffles, eggplant masala, and casual pub fare such as burgers, salads, sandwiches and wings. Folks who want to pop inside to warm up will be treated to live music, a Zenbarn staple that’s been kept alive during the pandemic through a fundraising effort. The roughly $8,000 music fund guarantees that musicians will be paid regardless of how many people show up, according to coowner Noah Fishman. “We’re committed to our artists,” he said. “They’ve sustained us, and we wanted to sustain them, too.” The shows, which also can be livestreamed from home, “have been a bright point for us,” Fishman added. He expects that Zenbarn’s outdoor space will get more use as spring’s milder weather approaches.


Having an outdoor beer on a sunny day is enjoyable — even in winter.


Also try… • • • • • • •



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Opposite page: Marlena Tucker-Fishman and Noah Fishman enjoying drinks by Zenbarn’s outdoor wood-burning stove; live music inside Zenbarn This page, counterclockwise: Mansfield Terrace igloo, fondue plate and gourmet hot cocoa; drinks and snacks by the Falcon Bar firepit




Dining in a Dome Equinox Golf Resort & Spa/Falcon Bar, 3567 Main St., Manchester, 362-4700, Spruce Peak/Mansfield Terrace, 7412 Mountain Rd., Stowe, 282-4625,

According to Jeff Everts, the recently arrived director of food and beverage at the Equinox Golf Resort & Spa in Manchester, outdoor winter dining in Vermont isn’t “much of an option.” His view is informed both by the weather — the temp hit 3 degrees below zero a few weeks ago — and by his experience at resorts in places such as Phoenix, Los Angeles and Orlando. “There are not many space heaters that are going to keep you warm [enough],” he said. Yet for hardy souls, the Equinox presents a few possibilities. Its Falcon Bar has an outdoor area furnished with a gas-powered firepit. More than a dozen stools ring the pit, making it a suitable spot for a cocktail or a cup of hot chocolate. And diners can carry food from the indoor restaurant outdoors, Everts said. The resort also has a pair of heated dining igloos, which come with a two-hour rental fee of $200. The price includes a charcuterie board for four people and a choice of wine or beer. At Stowe’s Spruce Peak, high up the Mountain Road, the Mansfield Terrace is the site of five plastic-covered dining domes with table service. The rental fee for 90 minutes is $50 Monday through Thursday and $100 Friday through Sunday, not including food or drinks. Blankets are provided for especially chilly days. Sushi is the featured menu item, though fondue and s’mores are available, too. Diners can watch skiers ride by in the chair lift, ascending the slopes. Said Andrea Heffner, director of marketing and sales, “Igloos are the exciting new thing.” m ST2V-OGE022421RIGHT 1



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WINTER DIPPING IN LAKE CHAMPLAIN Watch a video of the Red Hot Chilly Dippers at


Katharine Montstream on Lake Champlain

In January, the UK’s Guardian wrote about “the exhilarating joy of outdoor ice-bathing,” a centuries-old practice that has “soared during lockdown” as a much-needed pandemic stress reliever and endorphin releaser. “It’s pretty normal if you’re in Sweden or Denmark or Finland,” said Burlington painter Katharine Montstream of the pastime. “In the UK, this is huge, and it’s really blowing up. Especially with [the] pandemic, they have had a huge surge of people wanting to do this and needing outlets.” The same is true in Vermont, it seems. Montstream has been winter dipping regularly in Lake Champlain for three years, but the pandemic prompted her to begin plunging in nearly every day. She’s amassed a group of friends, playfully dubbed the Red Hot Chilly Dippers, who join in her shivery adventures. Montstream documents their dips through photos and videos on an

Instagram page that has more than 1,500 followers. Featured in a recent episode of “Stuck in Vermont,” a Seven Days web series hosted by Eva Sollberger, the group is seen wading into icy waters at Burlington’s Oakledge Park, Perkins Pier and south of Texaco Beach. There have been themed dunks — for everything from Thanksgiving to Inauguration Day — involving costumes, wigs and flags. But mostly the focus is on “getting in the lake and letting yourself forget about some of the really difficult things that are going on in the world right now,” Montstream told Sollberger. “When you go in the lake, the tactile sensation is so intense, you absolutely cannot think of anything else except what’s happening to your body,” she said. And if you need inspiration to get through the season, Montstream also noted that the cold-weather dips are equivalent to “not letting winter win.”

Learn more… • •


TRAPP FAMILY LODGE OUTDOOR CENTER 700 Trapp Hill Rd., Stowe, 253-8511,

Stowe’s Trapp Family Lodge may be known for its singing founders, but its reputation also rests on stunning mountain scenery. The place was named one of “the most breathtaking mountain lodges in North America” by Passport magazine. Locals love it, too: They’ve voted the place Vermont’s best cross-country ski area more than a dozen times in the Seven Days readers’ choice awards.

Also try… •


The on-site Nordic center is widely considered America’s oldest; it celebrated 50 years in 2018. While the pandemic has brought new safety precautions to the center — visit the 14



website for details on mask wearing, reservations, gear rentals and occupancy limits — the hills remain as alluring as ever. In fact, as Vermonters continue their quest for fresh-air fun, Trapp has had “an uptick of season pass sales this year,” said marketing manager Benjamin Gilbert. “With plenty of wide-open spaces and room for distancing, cross-country skiing is one of the safest ways to recreate this season,” he noted. Visitors will find 37 miles of groomed trails on the 2,600-acre mountaintop property, suitable for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. More advanced skiers can also lay tracks on 62 miles of ungroomed backcountry territory. One popular trek is the three-mile journey to Slayton Pasture Cabin, a rustic waystation for skiers built by the von Trapp family in 1971. Located on a wooded knoll, the log cabin is available to guests for 50-minute time slots — reserve one in advance to avail yourself of the roaring fireplace inside. Those without

a reservation may warm themselves around the outdoor firepit and pick up hot or cold food items. Or refuel après-ski with schnitzel

and a Berliner Weisse: The nearby von Trapp Brewing Bierhall Restaurant is open for takeout and dining by reservation.



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St. Albans Albans Berlin | Derby | Middlebury | St. • 802-388-4951 © Kubota Tractor Corporation, 2021. This material is for descriptive purposes only. Kubota disclaims all representations and warranties, express or implied, or any liability from the use of this material. For complete warranty, disclaimer, safety, incentive offer and product information, consult your local Dealer or go to

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Find a full list of winter farm trails at

Imagine snowshoeing through a forest of maple trees, past sap lines running from trunk to tank, then stopping at a sugarhouse to pick up some of that justmade maple syrup. This sugaring season treat is now accessible at Randolph Center’s Silloway Maple, thanks to the Vermont Farm Trail Network, launched by Dig In Vermont late last summer.

Farm trails to try… • • • •

KNOLL FARM, Fayston, 496-5686, SANDIWOOD FARM, Wolcott, 888-2881, SILLOWAY MAPLE, Randolph Center, 272-6249, TRADE WINDS FARM, Shoreham, 897-2448,

This directory of farm trails open to the public is a collaborative project supported by the Farm-Based Education Network, Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont, Shelburne Farms, University of Vermont Extension, Vermont Fresh Network and Vermont Department of Tourism & Marketing. The goal: to connect visitors with new food and farm experiences

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— and new ways to get outside during the pandemic. “There’s nothing better than walking around a farm, seeing animals and just being outside,” said Tara Pereira, executive director of Vermont Fresh Network. The winter excursion options are plentiful. At Fayston’s Knoll Farm, one cross-country skiing trail ascends to 1,800 feet for a fabulous view of the Mad River Valley. (You might also spot some of the farm’s Icelandic sheep.) Shoreham’s Trade Winds Farm invites guests to ski on groomed trails, slide down the sledding hill or skate on a lighted rink. And Wolcott’s Sandiwood Farm allows visitors to ski, snowshoe or fat-bike through the sugarbush, enjoying views of Mount Mansfield and, on select dates, a bonfire. Visit Dig In’s website to learn more about participating locations and read the Farm Trail Ethic before you go. Pereira hopes to add more farms from all across Vermont in the future, suitable for visits in every season. “Farms are such a big sector in our state,” said Pereira. “This is another way to experience, explore [and] see the beauty of farms in Vermont.”

© Kubota Tractor Corporation, 2021. This material is for descriptive purposes only. Kubota disclaims all representations and warranties, express or implied, or any liability from the use of this material. For complete warranty, disclaimer, safety, incentive offer and product information, consult your local Dealer or go to

your staycation 802.878.1100 ESSEXRESORT.COM

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