Friday Hike Highlights

Friday, August 19, 2016

My hike this morning took me to a few areas where our staff have been working.  Mountain bike trail 6, Evolver, has been one of our primary trail maintenance selections this summer and I think you will enjoy the improvements that include nice berms to improve flow.  The maintenance will also help to decrease soil erosion. Feedback so far has been very positive.

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Trail 6, Evolver, is a blue, intermediate trail.  You can get to it via Trail 7, Gateway.  It intersects right around the top of the ski trail Drop.

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Near the top of Yardsale.

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My compliments to our trail crew - they have been working very hard on this project - it takes an understanding of the terrain and how downhill bikers prefer to descend.  And from time to time they throw in a little rock art.

Another crew that I would like to give a big shout out to is our brushback team.  This is the group who are out brushing back the trails and thining the glades.  

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This is an example of brush back, when you cut the brush that creeps in and decreases the width of a trail.  This photo was taken on Cut Off.

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Brush back on Uncle's.

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Glading is when you go "off trail" and thin out undergrowth and/or trees so skiers and riders can enjoy some tree skiing.  This is the section between Uncle's and Ridge, known to some as the Fantasticks.  Our crew did a fantastic job - see what I did there?

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You may get lucky enough to find this little cliff drop when you are skiing the trees this winter.  You will have to search...it's a secret.

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Aesthetically, it is so beautiful when you come upon glades like this.  Skiers right of Ridge or Freefall come to mind.  But normally, we do not thin right to the edge of the trail, especially where there is a prevailing wind.  It is best to keep a line of trees and growth to protect the gladed area from wind scour.  Little entrances will be provided for you to pop into the gladed area.  A perfect example of this is the tree skiing off Ego Alley (Sap Tapper) or Olympic (The Trials.)  When you duck into one of these tree skiing areas you feel like you have stepped through a door to another place.

As our trail crew shared with me, it is hard to be out there improving the glades but not being able to ski them.  I can see what they mean.  I found myself day dreaming of classic Vermont powder days and the distant whoops and hollers you hear through the trees.  It will be here soon enough.  In the meantime, enjoy the hike.

Predicting that the first question will be, "where are you doing brushback and glading?", I asked Hardy, our Mountain Manager to give us an update.  Here is what he had to say:

We are making terrific progress with our brushback efforts this year. Due to some unforeseen delays in materials availability for the snowmaking construction work that was planned for this summer, we found ourselves with a team of skilled mountain labor that could be redeployed to other productive work. The encroachment of the woods back into our ski trails is a process that we can never seem to keep caught up with, but we are making some catch up this summer with about three times the usual crew size running chainsaws and trimmers and pulling brush. At Mount Snow, we do not begin brushing back trail edges until the nesting periods of native bird species have passed. The brush that is cut remains in the forest, it is left in piles not to exceed 2’ in height. These brush piles are an attractive habitat for many of our woodland small animal species, but are not so high that they will interfere with woods skiing.

So far we have brushed back the trail edges top-to-bottom on One More Time, Overbrook, Drop, Switchback, Cut-Off and Uncles.  We also did some brushback on upper Gulch where brush was impacting our grooming ability. The brushback process involves cutting young tree growth typically 4” diameter and below, as well as overhead limbs of larger trees that  encroach into the trail. Limbing is done with powered pole saws from the ground, as well as with an off-road forklift with a man-basket that can lift saw operators into the air. We have also cleared out the woods between Ridge and Uncles as Kelly’s photos show, and we are currently moving into the woods to skier’s left of Olympic. Last summer there was brush trimming of young growth on the lower section of this area; this summer, we are working on improving the upper elevation entrance access to the wooded area. The area to the skier’s right of Ego Woods has also had the young growth trimmed and it looks great. For the balance of the brushback season our highest priority is clearing out around high voltage power lines, which is not as exciting as tree skiing but is critical to the continuity of resort operations especially during severe weather events. I am hopeful however that we will also be able to do some more tree area improvement as well as some trail edge brushback on Ledge and/or Choke. Stay tuned for updates as we move closer to ski season! 

Thanks Hardy and I will add that I talked to Nate (trail crew) and they were working on Dark Side of the Moon or the trees over in the Sunbrook area.

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