Ski Season is Here!

I lived in New York for a while before finally hitting the slopes and we have some great local mountains to ski on!   You can even sign yourself up for a day trip or weekend trip from NYC to Vermont.  There are many ways to get yourself to a mountain to enjoy a snowy ski day even if you don’t have a way to drive yourself.  Below is a list of companies that can help get you to where you want to go during this ski season:

Urban Sherpa:  www.urbansherpatravel.com

Zogsports: http://www.zogsports.org/nyc/Trip/Ski.aspx

Catskills Ski and Bus Packages: http://www.catskillhighpeaks.com/trailways-ski-new-york-bus.php?PHPSESSID=5e5734473f74831ecc0c7b0d3248202f

Emilio’s Ski Shop:  http://www.emiliosskishop.com/pipedreams_schedule.html

Catch the Homage Bus: http://nybustrips.com/

A friend just told me about another bus option – Blades Bus:  http://www.bladesny.com

Meetup.com: www.meetup.com Find local ski groups or start your own!

These were just a few options and hopefully one of them will get you on your way to the slopes.  Happy Skiing and Boarding!

Extreme Snow Tubing Day Trip

This day trip is not your average snow tubing event.  I went with Urban Escapes this past weekend on their extreme snow tubing and beer tasting day trip.  Having been to snow tubing areas that went straight down on narrow tracks and got a bit tiring after an hour, I can honestly say that this extreme snow tubing track was never anything but an adventure! 

After meeting in the city at 9am, our bus arrived at the Woodbury, CT  snow tubing area at around 11:30am.  Our group was given colored bandanas to wear so that we could identify who was in the group and mingle with each other throughout the day.  There were many tracks to choose from.  Most of the tracks were on one side of the street, which had all different track levels from beginner to black diamond.  Since this was the main area, the line got long rather quickly.  Luckily, Urban Escapes had reserved a track  that only our group could access.  After waiting through the long line for the other tracks, I decided to head to the other side of the street to try out the area reserved for the group. 

The track reserved for our group was longer than the others and was labeled both green for beginner and black diamond depending on where you launched yourself.  Even at the beginner launching section, I still found myself flying down the hill through the twists and turns.  From the black diamond launch, the momentum down the hill was intense.  There were turns where you would fly and catch air as you made your way down.  At this particular snow tubing park, they recommended that you go face first and so that you could drag your legs on the ground if you wanted to slow your speed.  I found that even when I dragged my legs, I was still going quite fast down the track.  We had a few people in our group that really embraced the speed of the track and kept their legs up, tried running starts and really flew in the air on the way down.  Helmet rentals are offered for $10 and I highly recommend them.  There is a lot of speed involved in extreme snow tubing and you want to be as safe as possible. 

We stopped for lunch as a group at 1pm.  Everyone had been given a choice of two different sandwiches that were provided by Urban Escapes while there was also a grill serving fries and grilled cheeses at the lodge if you were craving something warmer. After lunch we went back out to snow tube until it was time to depart for our next destination at 3pm.  Our day was only half over because now it was time to go beer tasting! 

About an hour away from Woodbury, CT, you will find the Captain Lawrence Brewing Company located in Pleasantville, NY.  The tasting room was full of people but we were ushered straight to the back area of the brewery where the beer is actually brewed.  Prior to the actual tasting, we heard an overview of microbrewing and how beer comes to be.  Our tasting included 5 different beers and we were given the opportunity to order growlers of our favorites.  As a beer lover, I thought Captain Lawrence Brewery had some fantastic offerings.  This explains why the tasting room was so full of other happy beer tasters.  Once the growler orders were complete, it was time to head home.  For our group, the bus ride back to the city was very festive as many chose to enjoy their growlers on the trip back.  We arrived back in NYC at approximately 7pm.

This was my first trip with Urban Escapes and it was a lot of fun.  Our guides were very friendly and fun to hang out with during all of the activities.  This is a relatively new company and I will plan to go on more adventures with them in the future.  There are other future snow tubing and beer tasting events that you can sign up for but I recommend doing so quickly as they usually sell out.

Weekend Ski Getaway in Vermont

If you are looking for more than just a day trip to the slopes, how about a weekend getaway to Vermont?  There are still weekend trips scheduled for this winter season through a variety of companies.  I recently went on a weekend trip to Stowe, Vermont with Zogsports.

For this trip to Stowe, there were enough people going that we had two buses for the group.  We departed on Friday at 4:30pm from the upper west side to try to avoid traffic (although we still ended up barely moving for about an hour trying to get out of the city).  After we were out of the NYC rush hour traffic, it was pretty smooth sailing and there was a scheduled stop in CT for a quick dinner break.  The arrival time at our lodge was close to 11:45pm and once checked in, you could choose to go to the bar for some more socializing or get rest for the next day of skiing.

Included with the trip cost were 2 day lift tickets, a delicious breakfast on both Saturday and Sunday, as well as a group dinner Saturday evening.  We were told when to be ready if we wanted to take the group buses to and from the mountain and there was also a shuttle if you wanted to go at different times.

Zogsports provided an itinerary so that you could choose to go with the group and meet up throughout the day for lunch and other apres ski activities but it was entirely optional.  On Saturday night those who chose to went to a local bar for some live music and drinks after dinner.  The next day I packed up, loaded the bus and went for another full day of skiing.  Our buses left directly from the ski resort at 4:30pm to head back to NY.

I really enjoyed my first trip to Stowe.  There was plenty of terrain to explore so it didn’t get boring.  During this weekend, the ski conditions were great and we even had some snow flurries on Sunday.  It was fun riding in the Stowe gondolas that transported you to different areas of the mountain.  When you needed a break from skiing,  there was a wide variety of food available ranging from a fine dining restaurant at the top of the mountain to the fancy yet more casual offerings at Spruce Lodge.   You could also find cafes that served the usual choices of soup, sandwiches and pizza by the slice if you just wanted a quick snack.

It is always different every trip, but I found that a lot of the people in this particular trip stuck to their own groups.  My friend and I had lots of fun regardless, but I thought there would be more mingling when off the slopes.   Some of the trip leaders would check in with us, but I do wonder how much fun it would have been if I had been there on my own.  I would be happy to go on this trip again next season, but would probably make sure I had a friend to go with me.

Zogsports has some upcoming weekend trips to Mount Snow which is another great Vermont mountain to ski on.  Dynamic Outdoors has a weekend trip to Killington, Vermont planned this February too.  So there are definitely plenty of other opportunities to plan a weekend escape before the ski season ends.

Getting to Belleayre Mountain for A Ski Day

After having a great time on last year’s day trip to Belleayre, I was eager to return for a visit during this ski season.  Since it appears that Zogsports is not offering a day trip to this location, I was happy to find out that there is a bus you can take from NYC Port Authority to and from Belleayre for a day or weekend of skiing.  Adirondak/NY/Pine Hill Trailways has a ski package for a round trip bus ride and 1 day lift ticket for $81.  If you would rather stay for more than one night you can also look into their weekend packages combining lift tickets, bus transport and lodging.  I did not see an option to buy my ticket online and was informed that I just needed to go to the Adirondak Trailways sales terminal at Port Authority.  They recommended arriving early and I had no problem buying my ticket that morning. 

Departing at 7am, the bus arrived close to 10:30am.  The scheduled departure time directly from Belleayre to head back to NYC is 4:15pm.   One thing to know is that there are some local stops along the way and we switched buses at Kingston, NY.  However, we were on schedule with the timing estimates we were given.  This mode of transport is perfect if you are someone like me who does not have a way to drive but would still like to get out of the city for some local skiing. 

I love the trails and view at Belleayre and now that I know how to get there on the weekend, I look forward to a few more visits before the winter ends.

Day Trip to Hunter Mountain

This weekend, I celebrated the arrival of 2010 with my first ski outing of the season.  On January 2nd, the weather was perfect for a ski day!  Snow was lightly falling in the city and continued throughout the day.  There was a dusting already on the ground when I headed to the Times Square pick up location.  

I signed up for this day trip through Outdoor Bound and prior to the day of the trip they sent an email noting the two pick up locations available, what to bring and who our guide would be.  While waiting for the bus to arrive, I received a message from the trip leader that he was on a different bus at the alternate pick up location near Union Square.  So I was on my own heading to Hunter Mountain but since it was mostly a sleepy ride that was fine with me.  The bus company we went with was Urban Sherpa and it turns out you can also sign up directly through them for numerous ski day trips.  Even though my Outdoor Bound guide was on the other bus, everything was still handled properly and I left the bus with my lift ticket and rental pass in hand ready to get on the mountain.

The main mountain (Hunter West) had many extremely difficult slopes, so I spent most of my time on the intermediate slopes at Hunter One.  Since we left the city at 6:15am, we arrived at the mountain early enough to enjoy some of the freshly fallen powder before the slopes got more crowded.  As the afternoon went on, conditions got a bit colder and icy, so I headed inside to warm up before the bus ride back.  Our Outdoor Bound guide sent us a message that he was doing the same, so we were all able to meet up and hang out for a bit before the return to NYC.

Since I went alone on this day trip, I would have to recommend that anyone going alone should prepare to spend the day that way.  Most people on the Urban Sherpa bus were with their own friends and there was no real mingling that I was aware of.  Even alone though, I still had a lot of fun and enjoyed some great time on the slopes.  And because I had signed up for this trip with Outdoor Bound it worked out well as I had people to hang out with for a bit towards the end of the day which I would not have had otherwise.  Outdoor Bound and Urban Sherpa have many upcoming dates available if you would like to plan a day to get out of the city and onto the slopes.

I am very excited for more skiing and other winter adventures in 2010.  Happy New Year everyone!

Here Comes the Cold Weather!

The holiday season is upon us once again.  While I have had a rough time over the past two months, I am looking forward to getting back out and enjoying all that winter in NYC has to offer.   And I can’t wait to write all about it!  Thank you for your patience during this difficult time.  Winter fun is on the way!

In the meantime, you can read about some of last year’s winter outings here:

Snow Tubing (Offered again by MMA this season)

A Day Trip to Windham Mountain

A Day Trip to Belleyre Mountain

Ice Skating at the City Ice Pavillion

Happy Holidays!

A Ski Day at Windham Mountain

I finally went on my long awaited ski day last weekend and it was most likely my last one of the season. Once again, I had signed up to go with Zogsports and this time the group was headed to Windham Mountain for the day. Our bus was scheduled to depart from the city at 6:30am and after some interesting subway detours to get there, I was in my seat and ready to go!

It just so happens that this particular day in March ended up being unseasonably warm. Windham, NY was supposed to go up to 45-50 degrees which is not your usual ski weather. Since I was so cold last time I went, I still brought all my cold weather gear just in case but when I stepped out into the sunny, warm weather on the mountain it became immediately evident that I would not need any of it.

This trip was really well organized – something I have come to expect from my past experiences with Zogsports. However, this time I felt like our group leader took some extra steps to encourage everyone to mingle and come together as a group. We all had the option to put some colored tape on our ski jackets or pants to help us recognize other group members throughout our day on the mountain which was helpful. Since I had come alone on this trip, I was not sure if I would have anyone to ski with this time and I had made my peace with that going into it. But before we left the bus to get into our gear our trip leader helped people to pair off this time so that no one had to go it alone. Because of that, I got to spend the day skiing with a great group of girls. I had way more fun than I had expected!

The challenge on this day was the ski conditions. Because it was so warm, there was less snow, melting slushy areas, and sections that were a lot more difficult to maneuver through than they ordinarily would be in colder weather. Later in the afternoon some of the slush had turned into ice. I had some fantastic wipe outs (luckily I didn’t get hurt) and my muscles were definitely feeling all the extra work I was doing to try to stay upright down the slopes. I was going to be sore the next day for sure!!! I certainly missed the powdery snow I had enjoyed on my last skiing adventure!

Like my last ski trip with this company, everyone was welcome to meet up for lunch at 1pm. It was great to take a break and hear how other people had been enjoying their day. We then hit the slopes for a while longer before finishing the day off with an Apres Ski at the lodge bar. Our ski day ended at just the right time since it actually started to rain heavily once I had already returned my skis and was back inside. After some drinks and snacks with the group, it was then time to get back on the bus and return to the city.

For this day trip, rentals were not included in the price but I was really pleased that a group rental rate had been arranged for us. There is one weekend trip remaining with Zogsports for this ski season. Next year, I am hoping I will be able to sign up for one of these longer trips and I would also like go on more of the day outings. It really is a great way to actively enjoy the winter season. You can head to www.zogsports.com for all the details on their upcoming trips and their numerous sports leagues. For all the information on skiing at Windham, please go to their website at www.windhammountain.com.

The end of the ski season does not mean the fun is over, however. It only means it is time for a different variety of activities! There are still plenty of things to look forward to in 2009 and I can’t wait!