This is a post is a continuation of a short series on Smuggler’s Notch. To catch up, you can find the first post in this series here, and the second one is here. Our family’s accommodation and activities were provided by Smugg’s, while extras like food and whatnot were paid for ourselves. (Image below, credit: Smuggler’s Notch, Vermont.)
Gooooood morning Smuggler’s Notch!
In contrast to the first morning, when the kids had been up early and racing about the condo, this morning was far more quiet. They’d had a big day and evening yesterday, and we parents got to reap the benefits with a little sleep-eye. However, it didn’t last long because Hubby and Stella were so keen to hit the hills again that they were insisting on squeezing in a few runs before Snow Sport University started up at 9 am.
Breakfast was a quick bowl of hot porridge and fruit (and coffee for Mom and Dad!) in the condo. Too quick, in fact, for even a photo. And with a blink of an eye, off they went out into the snow!
Drop off to Snow Sport University
Like Day 1, both children were registered to attend Smuggler’s Snow Sport University. We were really happy to see that Stella would have Blake as her instructor again. One of the neat things about the program is that during the day you can bump into your child on the hill and say hi and see how things are going. In the photo below, this is what Hubby did with Stella and she is trying to avoid the embarrassing parental contact – haha! Also note the red device strapped around her leg. This is a GPS and all the kids have one strapped to them for safety reasons, but at the end of the day you can also log-in and see where your child skiing, for how far, and at what speeds.
Max, who the day before had put on quite a show at drop-off, quietly raised his hand up to the hand of one of the instructors and walked off to join his group. In contrast to Stella’s experience, during the two days that Max was in this program, his instructors were, for the most part, fairly unmemorable. On the first day, one of his instructors was a young man by the name of Justin who was charismatic and full of energy, but the others seemed like they were just going through the motions. Sure, working with the kids in this age group is probably the least favorite choice for the instructors (since three-year-olds are far more work than say, ten-year-olds), but I don’t care — it’s their job and they should at least pretend to enjoy it! (Hey, the rest of us have to, don’t we? )
Ski lessons for the adults
Starting at 10 am, Hubby and I were registered to participate in adult ski lessons. We were really looking forward to this since neither of us had ever had the opportunity to have an actual lesson before.
I had signed up for a Level 3 lesson, which would focus on “tuning your turns.” My instructor was Neal, and he clearly loved his job. He’s been teaching up at Smuggler’s for two decades, but you’d never know it by his youthful zeal. He was patient, offered just the right tips, and peppered our time with jokes here and there. From one lesson alone, I made huge progress on my turns and have almost mastered moving from snowplowing stance to having my feet in parrellel position.
My Smugg's instructor in action
Adult group lessons are two hours in length and cost $75 per person. I lucked out with a great group, and was able to meet some interesting people while we swapped partners on the chair lift rides. In total, my class had two couples and three women. One of the women was from England and she told me that she and her family have been coming every year, for more than five years, to Smugg’s because they felt comfortable there and because their children enjoyed the kids’ programs so much.
Meanwhile, Hubby had his ski lesson over on another hill. He was signed up for a level 6 class. (In total, there are 10 levels of classes offered.) When we caught up at lunch, he was raving about his experience. By chance, he ended up as the only student in his class and he said his instructor, Charlie, was fantastic. From just this one lesson, Hubby was able to move from skiing on blue hills to moving over to black ones.
I have to admit that left to my own devices, I probably would not have forked out any cash for adult ski lessons (but willing would do so for my kids). But now? I will happily pay for a lesson every time I get a chance. It really helps to build confidence and enhance your skills. Stella is also now a big fan of lessons. Although she’s had lessons at a local hill, she found her lessons at Smugg’s to be more in depth and far more helpful.
Zip-lining with Arbortrek
More first-time experiences were in store for us today! Hubby, Stella and I (Max was not old enough to participate) were heading over to Arbortrek Canopy Tours. Our tour was called the “Wild Winter Ride,” and involved 6 zip lines and 2 sky bridges in the gorgeous Vermont forest over a 2.5 hour period. None of us had zip-lined before, so we were feeling nervous and excited (or at least, Stella and I were!).
I’m not even sure how to describe the experience. It was all so exhilarating and fun! So perhaps I will let the photos speak for themselves. Our guides were Roger and Stephanie and from start to finish, they were perfect companions who also made you feel very safe.
Here is our full group: Hubby and I are on the far left (it was pretty cold that day, as you can tell!) and Stella is the smallest one, sitting down with the red helmet beside one of our guides, Roger, with the yellow helmet.
I will resist the urge to post every single picture available! But, if you are interested, they are posted from each tour up on Arbortrek’s Facebook page.
It was truly an experience of a lifetime. And I really want to go back and try it out in the summer now too!
Re-grouping back at the condo
Our Arbortrek driver, Ben, was kind enough to drop me off along the way back where I could pick up Max. So Max and I headed back to the condo, and were joined shortly afterwards by Stella and Hubby.
After a big day of big activities, this regularly sedentary body was aching! I decided to fill up the Jacuzzi tub in our ensuite bathroom and soak my bones.
Hubby gave me this time of peace and quiet by happily whisking the kids off to the outdoor pool. From there, we gathered back to the dinner table for an Indian curry with chicken (the same one we made on this camping trip).
We decided to try something the Family Snow Tubing tonight, despite how tempted Stella was to head back to the Fun Zone. Just as we were heading out, we heard a huge “boom!” then a “bang!” We rushed out to find a full-on fireworks display! A large group of us gathered on the snow hill to enjoy the lights. Wow, it really felt like we were away somewhere special.
Once the fireworks finished, we resumed our regular plan to hit Sir Henry’s hill for Snow Tubing. After one run, Hubby and I quickly suspected that perhaps this wasn’t exactly a safe activity. The tubes were hitting really high speeds, it was difficult to slow or stop yourself. Add to that was that the two employees at the bottom of the hill, who I assume were supposed to help you stop, were pretty blase.
On my first time down, the tube had been spinning so much that I couldn’t see where the end was and I banged my head into a barricade (luckily, I was wearing a helmet, so no harm done). The experience spooked me though, and I decided then that I wasn’t comfortable doing any more runs. Before Hubby and the kids could even make their decision, a woman flew at high speeds on her tube right up and over the barricades. Another witness estimated she was at least 8 feet in the air before she hit the pavement. All of the parents quickly realized that the speeds were too fast and the barricades were not high enough and gathered up their children to leave. As for the poor woman, the last we saw of her, she was still lying on her back and a medic was checking her eyes for signs of concussion. I really, really hope she’s okay. So, consider yourself warned: I highly recommend NOT doing this activity unless some significant changes are made to make it safer.
We decided to cheer the kids up with a stop at Ben and Jerry’s. This time, with the memory still fresh of how yummy our treats had been last night, we all upped our sizes. Mmmm!
Good night, sleep tight!
Even with ice cream pumping through their veins, the kids were pooped and hit the sack quickly once we got back to the condo. Naturally, the adults weren’t too far off either!
Despite feeling shaken by the tubing experience, the day as a whole had been soooo fantastic. We’d made a ton of wonderful memories together and were no rush to go home. In fact, Stella had already announced that she wanted to live at Smuggler’s Notch forever. (This is high praise because she has done a lot of travel in her young life and has only ever said this once before, and that was when we stayed at Dunk Island in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.) Hubby and I could understand how she felt though since we were wishing that we had a whole week to enjoy Smugg’s.
p.s. I’ve added a video of what one of the Green hills at Smugg’s looks like from top to bottom. It’s me skiing on the first day, so you can even admire my fancy snowplow skills. Hubby got a “GoPro” camera from Santa, so the video is taken from the top of his helmet as we skied down it.