Happy January and Happy 2020 everyone! It is the start of a new decade, and for my blog I am kicking it off talking about one of my favorite things in the whole world: skiing! As part of my life for so long, it’s what took me on some of my first road trips and introduced me to places all across New England. From my home state of Massachusetts, to Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine, I have discovered many mountains and adorable little towns. In this post I am going to talk about some of my favorite places, as well as give a little family and personal history about why I love skiing so much, and the happiness it has brought to my life!
I started learning to ski from the age of 6. My mom took my younger sister and I to a tiny little hill in Massachusetts close to our home and enrolled us in our first lesson ever. I don’t remember many details of that day, but I know I loved it from the start and it wouldn’t be the last time I stepped into a pair of skis.
The love of skiing runs deep in my blood. My very existence is something I partially can thank skiing for. My grandparents on my dads side were both members of ski clubs, which were a part of an ski association. At their annual party to wrap up the winter ski season, each club had to come up with a centerpiece for their table. My nana’s club, called “The Coffin Cheaters”, missed the memo about the centerpiece competition, but to their luck, one of them just happened to drive a hearse for a funeral home with an empty casket in it (so strange, I know). So my nana gets inside this casket, they carry it in and place it on their table, and out pops my nana with a bottle of champagne! It certainly caught my grampy’s attention, he presented her with the winning centerpiece prize, and they met. The rest is Kincaid family history! They eventually got married, took their honeymoon in Colorado skiing with friends, and started a family of four children who all grew up skiing too. That pure love of skiing is one of my family’s greatest traditions and my grandparent’s legacy. It brings us closer together as a family, has provided us with memories to last a lifetime, and hopefully more adventures to come too!
While my grandparents are no longer with us, I always feel them with me in spirit whenever I snap into my skis. As an adult now, I don’t find nearly as much time to go as I once did as a kid when my family would go up to Vermont every weekend. One of my resolutions for the new decade is to dedicate more time to do what I love. Just before Christmas, my family and some of my extended family returned to where we all grew up skiing together- a little mountain called Suicide Six in Pomfret, VT. This place still feels like my home away from home. It was the perfect spot to develop my ability over the years, and spend quality time with my family, all my cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and friends. Not much has changed here over the years. Our absolute favorite bartender Brian still works here, and we were able to sit in the lounge after a day of skiing and chat with him like no time has passed. Part of what I love so much about skiing is the come down at the end of the day, sharing the day’s experiences with those you love, and toasting the memories made with a cold beer.
*Above: my sister, cousins, and myself at the top of Suicide Six in December 2019*
Place of interest: Woodstock, VT. The ski area Suicide Six is about 10 minutes from the town center of Woodstock, and my aunt used to own a house a little outside town where we would all stay during weekend ski trips and school vacations. This is one of the most adorable little towns I have ever been, and it has that quintessential New England charm. The center of town is a hub to a plethora of local shops and small businesses, restaurants, and the historic Woodstock Inn. Make sure to stop into Gillingham’s country store, check out some of the shops, and drive over the classic covered bridge. Billing’s Farm has a museum that you can visit as well. Head down route 106 south and you’ll pass by a country club, horse stables, and then you will find the cozy Kedron Valley Inn and the South Woodstock Country Store. Suicide Six is home to skiing and riding in winter time, and they have mountain biking trails open throughout the summer. There are several hiking trails around, including a stretch of the Appalachian Trail which goes directly behind Suicide Six. Another close by point of interest is Mt. Ascutney State Park, which has excellent hiking trails to the summit and back. Other nearby towns include Quechee, South Royalton, and White River Junction. Quechee is home to a very beautiful gorge that you can visit, as well as the Quechee Inn, which has hot air balloons take off from their fields in the summer. I recently ate at a restaurant called Trail Break Taps and Tacos in White River Junction and it was so good. They had a huge beer selection, and the tacos were unreal. South Royalton while very small has an excellent brewery called Upper Pass, and is actually the subject of the opening credits to the show Gilmore Girls during the theme song!
One new year’s day, I also had the pleasure of heading up to Burlington, VT with my immediate family and our dog, Delilah. We stayed right in town on Lake Champlain at the dog-friendly Hilton. I absolutely adore Burlington and all the shops to be found on Church Street, the scenic lake views, and the amazing farm-to-table food at many local restaurants. I highly recommend visiting here, I definitely intend on going back in the warmer months to experience more of what it has to offer. The winter there is really pretty though, with lots of decorate lights on the streets, snow covered mountains in the distance, and no crowded areas to be found. My favorite restaurants were Sweetwaters and The Farmhouse Tap and Grill. There are also several craft breweries in the area, including Foam Brewers, Zero Gravity, and Magic Hat.
We spent one day skiing Mad River Glen for the first time during our mini-trip. It’s one of those places that feels so tucked away, and as you drive along the winding mountain roads it just appears as if out of nowhere and you feel like you’ve just discovered a hidden gem. The lodge is small, and still true to itself and the traditions that have existed for years and years, not taken over by any big corporate companies trying to make a fancy resort out of it. Here, it’s all about the skiing. It is a cooperative, so the skiers own it. They also don’t do much grooming at all, and leave the natural snow alone, which is my favorite type of skiing. The single chair lift is legendary, as is the challenging terrain. Early season conditions, steep pitches, glades, and natural bumpy moguls all made for one hell of a day! I had not skied like that in a very long time, and it did not take long for my legs to be burning on fire, my body begging for mercy by the end of the day. Despite the numbness from my cold toes, and the sore, fatigued muscles, it was all worth it. The pure joy I feel from this sport is unlike anything else.
Skiing for me is what gets me excited about the winter season in New England, and helps me survive the long cold months. I have my family to thank for introducing it into my life, and encouraging me to stick with it. It will always be more than just a sport or hobby to me, it has truly influenced my life for the better. Fun fact: I even wrote my college applications essay about it! There are so many important things I learned from skiing that have helped me grow as a person…
Staring at the trail sign with the two black diamonds on it, peering down a steep slope, and not backing down from a challenge. Getting stuck in a tough spot, with no promising lines to pick from, and navigating my way down as best as I can. Wipeouts are sometimes inevitable, that’s what helmets are for, you have to get back up to get down the mountain. Feeling sore and tired is proof of hard work. There is always room for improvement, always new challenges, and always new adventures to be had. These are all amazing lessons that skiing has gifted to me in my life. I am forever grateful to have grown up in a skiing family, and can only hope the tradition continues. Every person has something in their life that lights a fire in their hearts every time they get the chance to do it- skiing is that thing for me.
Travel and skiing combined is something I am trying to do more of this decade! Vermont is an all time favorite of mine. One of my major goals is to take it out west, to Europe, or even South America! I would love to know some of your favorite places to ski if you have them, and what you love about the sport! Let me know if you are planning on visiting VT to ski or not, and need recs on what to do, restaurants, etc!
P.S. Remember to be kind to others and do something that brings you joy today:)