I’m lucky enough to have one of the most beautiful places in the world–Trapp’s Cross Country Center— right in my back yard. It is so stunning some days that it’s honestly almost a religious experience for me. Nothing could have made me happier therefore, when my 9 year old asked me out of the blue if I wanted to go for a ski at Trapp’s yesterday. The thrills of the mountain are usually the big draw for the boys, but I harbor a secret hope they will someday love and appreciate nordic skiing as much as I do. So, while I realize that driving a few miles up to Trapp’s for a cross country ski isn’t really a “travel adventure” for me…some of you may choose Stowe as your family adventure destination, so here are a few tips for skiing at Trapp’s with the kids that might be helpful:
1. The “corral” area– where you buy tickets and put on your skis– may truly be the windiest, coldest place on earth. A few hectic minutes fumbling with bindings can be enough to get the kids whining and you contemplating hot chocolates by the fire. BUT, as soon as you get into the woods, it’s like entering a magical world with an entirely different weather system. So, tip #1, get the skis on and RACE as fast as you can to the woods. Seriously, tell the kids it’s a race and go.
2. The cabin is a great destination for kids over the age of 6 or so, but it’s a long haul up so bring snacks and an extra layer for the ski down. Once you get to the cabin, kids are rewarded with a roaring fire and brownies as big as their heads, and first timers get a pin too.
3. If the cabin is too lofty a goal, the Picnic Knoll is a good destination for smaller kids. The long, flat Sugar Road ends on a knoll where you can either turn right around, or take one of the parallel tracks back to the Outdoor Center. The sugar shack is also a short ski away, and if you’re visiting in March you might be lucky enough to catch them making maple syrup from trees on the property. Sugar on snow is a huge motivator in my house!
4. My friend Kristina VonTrapp teaches cross country skiing to kids and has all sorts of tricks up her sleeve for making sure our kids have fun. One I loved was bringing a piece of ribbon and having two people hold it across the trail while the kids “limbo” underneath. She can also identify multiple animal tracks in the snow, which is fun for everyone. My boys like “glide races” where we ski as fast as we can until someone yells “GLIDE!”, then we tuck and the last person moving wins.
5. You can only expect kids to stay in the tracks for so long. After a few minutes, we try to find little “back country” detours that keep things interesting. Jumps, steep downhills, and “short cuts” (which are always longer) are hugely popular with my boys.
6. I survived my first winter of motherhood by pulling Case around in a pulk. These enclosed sleds are used by extreme adventurers, the military, and desperate mothers in need of fresh air and exercise. The kids sleep, you ski, and life is good. You can rent a pulk at Trapp’s Outdoor Center.
7. Trapp’s is steeped in history and offering the kids a movie night after a big ski usually goes over well in my house. I’ll admit that Case let out an audible groan when The Sound of Music opened with Maria spinning through the Austrian hills, but by the time the Captain started singing Edelweiss, both boys were singing along.