Since starting my new job last week Wednesday, I haven’t been out in the snow much. This weekend was my first trip since our last storm which brought about 15-20 inches. It would have been sooner, but…only 5 hours of accrued time-off so far. Yesterday was a downhill day at Bolton, all lifts were running, and every run was great. Lots of powder in the woods, and Andre showed me a “secret glade” between Hard Luck and VT 200, which was new to me.
Today, it was time for some back-country. Bolton’s snow report had mention of the possibility of avalanches this week with the existing icy snow covered in a thick layer of fresh powder, so we didn’t want to head anywhere too crazy. Dewey Mt. was a spot we had both been, was well forested, and not too steep.
Looking at Mt. Mansfield from Underhill, Dewey Mt. is to the right, closest to the Chin, with the Nebraska Notch to the other side, with Mt. Clark across the notch.
We took Stevensville Rd., a very narrow, fun road that’s minimally maintained “snow tires and 4×4 recommended” as the sign says, and left the car at the parking area at the end of the road. It was a full lot today, but there was one spot left. We got our gear on and from there, and we headed up the Overland XC trail. I noticed a group of people snowshoeing down, who looked like they had camped out for the night somewhere, carrying down a trash bag, some Catan games, water, and a box of Budweiser cans. Starting up from the trailhead, the Overland XC ski trail was marked with a sign, and was the trail on the left side. The trail on the right being the Nebraska Notch trail, which heads through the notch, gains some elevation, and eventually meeting up with the Long Trail at its Taylor Lodge, on a scenic lookout above Lake Mansfield.
The track up looked familiar, through a well-spaced, gently sloping hardwood forest with lots of birch and beech trees. The Overland XC trail was marked with red blazes. After about half a mile, the marked XC trail made a left, continuing gradually upwards, but there was another well worn skin track to the right, heading directly towards Dewey Mt., at a less gentle pitch. We went right here, and continued upwards for at least another half mile. Here there was great view of Mount Mansfield behind us as we climbed our way up Dewey Mt. across from it. After about a half mile of climbing, the track split again. At this junction there was an unusual amount of foot prints, boot prints, paw prints, and other tracks going every which way. It was obviously a high traffic area, not sure why. It looked a bit like a football game had taken place here. The path left seemed to go towards the summit of Dewey Mt., and the right option appeared to almost head along the ridge and down the other side. Here we chose the right option.
As we continued over the ridge line, but beneath the summit of Dewey to our left, the trail climbed up gradually and took a bit of a turn. The woods here were still very wide and open, and it was clear that this would be an excellent way to come back down. Apart from the cold, the weather today was incredible. The snow was perfect, dry powder, the sky was blue, and the sun was producing a constant sparkle as it hit lots of lingering snowflakes, making their way down from the tree tops in the light breeze to the ground below. The snow on the ground was also looking particularly attractive. Here in the sun, you could see the shapes of all the individual snow crystals glistening as they lay on the ground. Due to the cold, they hadn’t had a chance to melt at all yet.
As we headed up further, we passed a very large boulder which had trees growing up from its top. Looking to the right, it became apparent that we would need to come back the way we came here. The terrain to our right dropped of sharply, and while it could certainly be a fun way down, it would put us right at the bottom of Nebraska Notch, which would make for an awfully long trek back. That wasn’t an adventure we were looking to have today.
The ridge we were on went on for quite a ways, and the woods eventually tightened up quite a bit. The trail became very narrow, and looked almost accidental at times, as it went though unmarked terrain on some very thick forested areas, but looking to the bottoms of tree trunks, you could see a few scars where skis have rubbed by them in the past. As we continued onward, and elevation decreased slowly steadily, we decided to turn back. It seemed as though the trail we were on could have eventually linked up with the Skytop trail, but that’s not where we were headed today. As we came back to the summit, we had a quick lunch of cheese and salmon jerky, and then made our transition to head back down.
The trip down was amazing. Long, with varied terrain, and PLENTY of powder. Apart from the very start at the bottom, where everything rejoins the skin track, this area was not tracked out at all, and no matter what way you went, the woods were open and there was lots of fresh snow.
I’ll definitely be back here. I’ve been to Dewey Mt. before, in similar conditions, but this by far was my favorite route.