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Birch Ridge Inn
Snow Stake Picture
of the Day
Birch Ridge Inn Snowstake
Tuesday, February 8, 2018
20 7/8 inches. Sunny day after storm. Over 16 inches of new snow in last week!

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Killington Snow Report for Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Killington Conditions:
Open Trails: 92
Open Lifts: 18
Groomed Trails: 0
Service Conditions: Machine Groomed/Powder
Average Base Depth: 15" - 24"
24 Hour Snowfall: 0.0"
48 Hour Snowfall: 0.0"
7 Day Snowfall: 5.0"

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The Snow Stake at the Birch Ridge Inn - Prepped for winter

The Snow Stake at the Birch Ridge Inn - Prepped for winter 

it is finally here....

With great anticipation, and a little nervious anxiety looking at the calendar, the 2017-2018 winter season of skiing and riding at Killington began this morning. Season pass and express card holders were invited by the mountain to begin the season today at 9:30 AM. And hundreds showed up to enjoy the first turns of the season.

Tomorrow the resort will open for the general public at 9:00 AM with service to Killington Peak via the K1 Gondola. Skiing and snowboarding terrain is on the Rime and Reason trails, including an early season terrain park on Reason. The open trails are serviced by the North Ridge Triple chair, which will load until 3:45 p.m. Last run down Rime and Reason is at 3:30 p.m before guests will be asked to walk out of the area on the "Stairway to Heaven" to Killington Peak to download on the gondola.

Unfortunately, as luck would have it, inn business kept Mary and I away from the mountain today (more on that later)... But several of our employees were able to partake. From thier reports back, they were really stoked by the conditions, which included beautiful soft snow, moderate temperatures, and a brilliant blue sky.

Chef Colin out for some early season turns on his board today.
Chef Colin out for some early season turns on his board today..

20 years ago, to the day, the first large pieces of machinery arrived at the property Mary and I bought. The transformation of 37 Butler Road from a private residence to the Birch Ridge Inn was beginning. In a fit of irony, 20 years later, heavy construction machinery is onsite again as we prepare the inn to greet guests for the winter.

While todays project does not involve digging a new foundation for a building, it is equally important. Each year before the onset of winter, we grade out the driveway to make sure that it can be snow plowed effectively. This year, in addition to doing the re-grading, we asked the contractor to re-work some of the drainage on the driveway to better handle water flow. While we have always gotten a lot of precipitation in Killington, over the last 5 or so years the nature has changed dramatically. What used to be slow and steady showers has turned into an all or nothing proposition. Now when it r@!ns, it usually comes in a torrent. The torrents, over time, eroded the ditches on the side of the driveway that were rebuilt in 2011 after Hurricaine Irene. In addition to digging out the trench on the right side of the driveway (going up to the inn), we also had our contractor add a new drain pipe under the driveway from the carriage way.

Working on rebuilding the driveway to the inn.
Working on rebuilding the driveway to the inn.

At the same time the driveway work was taking place, one of our neighbors had his contractor digging in a sewer line right in front of the driveway and carriageway. We had the inn on a planned shut down so we could continue our efforts to transition from the fall to winter seasons, so business was not impacted. But, needless to say, access to the inn has been a little tricky the last couple of days.

All is not lost, however. Our neighbor had the local asphault contractor re-pave in front of the driveway and carriageway this morning. Before the paving took place, our contractor had multiple yards of material deposited on the driveway to build it up for re-grading. That began this afternoon. Access to the inn should be back to normal tomorrow (Thursday November 9th), with the exception that the scars of heavy equipment will be still visible until the first snow fall of the season erases them from view.

Just because we were land locked at the inn does not mean we were sitting idly bye. The annual "Leaf Rodeo" at the inn was underway in earnst today. Pick your favorite weapon....rake, tarp, wheel barrow, leaf blower. They were all in operation today. The Green Mountains are really beautiful in the summer and the fall... but the piper needs to be paid when the leaves decide to head for the ground. Fortunately, today was crisp and sunny. The perfect day for picking up leaves.

"Leaf Rodeo 2017 " underway with the assist of a leaf blower today at the inn
"Leaf Rodeo 2017 " underway with the assist of a leaf blower today at the inn.

We will be working around the inn for the next couple of days as we prepare to re-open for the winter season on Friday.

If you are inn Killington this weekend, stop in and say hello. Wherever you may be, however, "Think Snow" at least for those of us up here in Killington.

Birch Ridge Inn

Birch Ridge Inn 

.... and we have not looked back since!

They say time flies when you are having fun. Its has been one helluva ride...

20 years ago today, October 31, 1997, in the offices of the Woodstock Bank in Woodstock Vermont, Mary and I signed the paperwork which would define the majority of our adult lives. We bought a property on Butler Road in Killington Vermont which we intended to convert into an inn.

Our journey actually started 11 months earlier in December of 1976. Over the Christmas Holidays several life events had caused some introspection. Over many glasses of wine, it had become obvious that we loved being in Killington and that we wanted to redirect our lives to live in this community. What followed was a period of intense activity as we analyzed various business opportunities, spoke with real estate agents, hired consultants to guide us, hired a lawyer, hired an accountant, contracted with an archtect and a developer, and interacted with too many agencies in the State of Vermont to imagine. Oh.... and there was the little matter of winding up our corporate lives which we needed to attend too as well.

With a lot of chutzpah, and anxiety, the actual closing on the purchase of the property was a marker in the ground, committing us to an uncertain future. We look back on it now and understand it was an inflection point in our lives where we took control. We decided our own destiny.... and we have not looked back since.

Of course, looking back to 1997 is a lot harder than it is today. The concept of carrying around a full fledge computer with camera in your pocket was still a dream. People were very careful taking picture, because film and developing cost a lot of money. But I did find some old pictures from our library that I scanned into the computer so you can get a sense of what 1997 was like.

Bill and Mary in the summer of 1996... And we thought we were old then....
Bill and Mary in the summer of 1996... And we thought we were old then....

The building at Butler Road prior to conversion to the Birch Ridge Inn
The building at Butler Road prior to conversion to the Birch Ridge Inn

The original front portico.  Has a Golden Arches sense about it...
The original front portico. Has a "Golden Arches" sense about it...

The original Snowshed which now call the Covered Carriageway.
The original "Snowshed" which we now call the "Covered Carriageway".

Original line drawing showing the birth of the Birch Ridge Inn
Original line drawing showing the birth of the Birch Ridge Inn

The Birch Ridge Inn
The Birch Ridge Inn

The front portico to enter the Birch Ridge Inn
The front portico to enter the Birch Ridge Inn

The Covered Carriageway this fall.
The Covered Carriageway this fall..

None the worse for wear after 20 years living and working in Killington
None the worse for wear after 20 years living and working in Killington

Construction work began to convert the property into the inn 1 week later, on November 7, 1997. For the next 5 months, right thru the end of February, it snowed almost every day while the inn was being constructed. On April 1st, 1998, Mary and I moved into what is now Room 3 in the inn, having sold our Killington home to a friend. It was not until Memorial day in 1998 that we were ready to receive our first guests. But that is a story and a celebration for another day.

Mary and I have had quite the ride over the last 20 years. Thank you to everyone who made it possible for us to live and work in Killington all these years.

2017 Fall Foliage Peak Color at Birch Ridge Inn

2017 Fall Foliage Peak Color at Birch Ridge Inn 

There is the old adage "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder". And no more is that apparent then when people are discussing fall foliage colors in Vermont.

Peak color can arrive on any given day at any given time under any given lighting conditions. Peak color is not universal across Vermont. Heck, it is not even universal within the same photo frame to different people. It is more a zen like quality, and definitely a state of mind.

Today finally just feels like fall. While I write this still dressed in summer shorts in my office, it is significantly cooler today than others this fall season. Temperatures are struggling to get to the mid 50's in Killington. And that is even with full out sunshine and a blazingly beautiful blue sky.

Aerial view of the Birch Ridge Inn taken by Steve Kent of Killington's Outside TV.  Taken October 12, 2017
Aerial view of the Birch Ridge Inn taken by Steve Kent of Killington's Outside TV. Taken October 12, 2017

Our next door neighbor, Steve, who happens to be the manager of Outside TV in Killington had his drone up this morning. The photo above is a stunning shot of the fall colors with the inn in the fore ground and the mountain in the back ground. It is as pretty a photo of fall colors as I have seen this year.

Mother Nature presents this scene only once a year to those lucky enough to capture it. Vibrant fall colors in Killington and the surrounding mountains will probably last for a few more days. If you have not had a chance to take your fall ride to see the colors, now is the time.

Wherever you may be, keep it in the fairway.....remember the leaf rule, and ask Mother Nature for some cold air so Killington can begin snow making.

Superstar, site of the November Audi FIS Womens World Cup, bathed in color

Superstar, site of the November Audi FIS Womens World Cup, bathed in color 

The remnants of Hurricane Nate cleared the area overnight. In the process, the counter clockwise rotation of the weather system has pulled down some delightlfully cool air from Canada. With a sky filled with deep blue and big puffy clouds, it finally looks and feels like fall in Killington.

Color on the mountain, in the Killington basin area, and at the inn has popped. The short lived phenomenon of peak fall color is all around those of us who live and work in Killington. For the next few days we will be soaking it all in, as we continue our preparations for the winter season to come.

Air compressors lined up in the Vale parking lot at Killington over the weekend waiting to be deployed.
Air compressors lined up in the Vale parking lot at Killington over the weekend waiting to be deployed.

Speaking of winter, planning and preparation for the change of season is in full swing. A fleet of air compressors were sitting in the Vale parking lot over the weekend. When I went up to the mountain this noon time to take todays blog picture, the compressors were moved; presumably deployed to the compressor farm in the woods on skiers left off of the Snowshed ski trail.

Snow making at the resort is imminent. There have been reports coming from people at the resort that various tests of the system have been taking place for the last few weeks. Everything seems set with the start of snow making only waiting on Mother Nature to envelop the resort in cold air. And with the Audi FIS Womens World Cup returning to Killington over Thanksgiving Weekend, snow making at Killington can not begin too soon.

The next couple of weeks will highlight the changing seasons in Vermont. Beautiful color will be in abundance around Killington for a few more days before shifting to the south and west of the area. After that, yours truly and many others in Killington will begin our various incantations to encourage Mother Nature to blanket Killington in snow.

Wherever you may be, enjoy the fall foliage, and don't forget the leaf rule if you happen to be chasing the little white ball around in your pursuit of happiness.

Fall colors popping in Killington around the Birch Ridge Inn

Fall colors popping in Killington around the Birch Ridge Inn 

Columbus weekend will be vary colorful in Vermont.

There, I wrote it down. Colors in the Killington area are continuing to develop. While peak color is always hard to define, as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, areas around Killington will undoutedly be reaching peak color in the next 3 to 4 days.

This fall season, the colors in the trees are changing very slowly. If you were just looking at the calendar, all of the trees in the central part of Vermonts Green Mountain National Forest should be ablaze with color right now. However, weeks and weeks of beautiful sunshine combined with warm temperatures are signaling many trees to stay green for as long as they can.

Guests to the Killington area this weekend will find a melange of color throughout the mountains. Muted greens are being complimented with yellows, deep reds, and burnt orange. While the "Kodak Moment" is a thing of the past, cell phone pictures by the thousands will be taked across Vermont this upcoming weekend as people partake in the fall season.

With the fall season underway, last night the Killington Pico Area Association held its annual meeting at the Peak Lodge on the top of Killington Peak. About 200 people attended to listen to presentations about the area. Major initiatives discussed included the upcoming World Cup over the Thanksgiving weekend, the continued evolution of mountain biking and other summer recreational activities, the Killington Resorts Solar initiative, and many other items.

This years World Cup over the Thanksgiving weekend will see much of the learning collected from last year put into action..... It is hard to comprehend "Bigger, Faster, Better" sometimes, but this years event will be all that. From changes to the starting line of the race (up higher on the headwall of Superstar) to more busses, bathrooms, concerts, and activities throughout Killington, this years World Cup weekend will be exciting. If you cannot make it to Killington over that weekend, it was also announced that NBC will be televising the event live this year. On Saturday, the broadcast will recap the days events between 3 and 4PM. On Sunday the 26, NBC will be broadcasting the finals of the event Live starting at 1:00 PM.

Summer activity in Killington are continuing to expand with mountain biking leading the way. The resort has continued to expand mountain biking terrain off of Rams Head. 4 years ago, Killington had 2000 mountain bikers use the resort in the summer. This year, the number is 20,000. Using the average growth of the sport at other resorts, the resort is predicting that 80 to 100K riders is not an unreasonable number to project in the next several years.

To coincide with the expanded summer activities, the resort continues to add staff. In the last 2 years about 150 summer positions were created to support summer operations. Killington now employs almost 600 people to support their summer business. While a fraction of their winter employment, the continued use of the mountain year round is clearly being seen as an economic driver for the region.

Along that same thought line, Mike Solimano and Tracey Taylor, President of Killington, and Vice President for special projects, announced that the resort this year has been able to sustain lift operations every week during the year, a first for the resort. Every weekend lifts have been spinning for either skiing or mountain biking. And of course, in the heart of both respective seasons, lifts have been turing 7 days a week to support visitors to the region.

The resort also updated the community on their ongoing solar energy projects. The Killington Resort, and its parent company, Powdr, are acutely aware of the potential impacts climate change could have on thier business model. They are in the process of making sure that the not only speak out about it, but that they do whatever they can to "walk the talk". With that in mind, Killington has constructed several solar farms throughout the state to feed Green Mountain Powers grid with electricity. Within Killington proper, solar panels are being installed through out the resort, some in very visible places, to also decrease the burden of the resort on GMPs infrastructure. Three large "Solar Tracker" arrays were installed this week in the Wobbly Barn parking lot across the Killington Road from the inn as part of that activity.

In addition to the discussions about the community, the KPAA also conducted the annual vote of officers and board members for the association. The Birch Ridge Inn is very proud to announce that Merisa Sherman, a long term employee of the inn (11 years) has been elected to the Board of Directors of the Killington Pico Area Association. Congratulations Merisa! Merisa tends bar at the inn on weekends, and works as the evening innkeeper on premise when Mary and I are away from the inn. We are confident that Merisa will do a great job representing the Birch Ridge Inn and the Killington community on the KPAA board.

The grand fall foliage show that Mother Nature puts on each year is well underway. Wherever you may be, get out and play for winter is coming. The whisper date for snow making operations to begin full time in Killington is in the middle of October. Remember, we have historically been skiing and riding snow at Killington the last week of October many years, so think cold and snow.

In the mean time, where ever you may be, keep it in the fairway, remember the fall leaf rule, and enjoy.

Fall colors surround Killington

Fall colors surround Killington 

The beginning of this week brought some of the warmest days of the year to Killington. For a town which thrives on the cold, it was not pleasant in the least (and I am being kind). All is now right with the Killington world again as a weather front with luxurious, cold, crisp air from Canada has settled over the region. Fall has finally arrived. "Bring a sweater".

Colors on the mountain tops around Killington are brightening up. The warm temperatures of the last several weeks slowed the progress slightly. But Mother Nature will not be fooled by temporary weather events when it comes to the leaves changing colors in the Green Mountain State. A couple of days of cooler tempertures with moderating sunshine will catch the progress of fall right up to its normal pace.

On Killington itself, the base area is showing nice color. Not all of the trees have started to change in earnest, so the color profile spans the gamut from summer greens to fall reds, with some yellows and orange thrown in for good measure.

Color at the base of Killington peak.  Taken September 29, 2017
Color at the base of Killington peak. Taken September 29, 2017

Color around the inn in the Killington basin area is following the same pattern. Many of the trees behind the inn are engaged in the process. Colors are becoming more pronounced each day.

This weekend at Killington brings the annual Killington Brew Festival at the Killington Resort. If you like your suds, this is a great time to sample many local Vermont brews.

With Fall Foliage season fully underway, the restaurant at the Birch Ridge Inn will be open nightly for the next 2 weeks (including Sunday and Monday evenings) to service fall guests to the area. Stop in and enjoy some cider at the bar when you visit the area.

Where ever you may be, get out and enjoy the fall season. Keep it in the fairway.....and start making plans for winter... it will be here before you know it!

Phil Tarren at Green Mountain National Golf Course with the Birch Ridge Cup (Photo courtesy of Bobby Peterson at GNMNGC)

Phil Tarren at Green Mountain National Golf Course with the Birch Ridge Cup (Photo courtesy of Bobby Peterson at GNMNGC) 

Congratulations are in order for Phil Taran for winning the Birch Ridge Cup in 2017. Phil took this years honors in the season long competition held as part of the Thursday Night Twilight League at Green Mountain National.

Loosely based upon the PGA's Fedex Cup, the Birch Ridge Cup is a competition to see who can amass the most points during the Twilight Season at Green Mountain. Points are assigned to each player each week based upon where their team finished in that weeks competition. Additional points are assigned for skills in the game, like closest to the pin. Points are also assigned for attendance, with extra points awarded if a player had perfect attendance every Thursday night (which Phil did by the way).

Phil took first place in the tournament. In addition to having his name placed on the cup, winning first place in this years tournament allows him to host a cocktail party for 25 of his friends at the Birch Ridge Inn to celebrate his victory.

Jeremy "Creeper" Rayner took second place in this years competition, winning dinner for 4 at the inn. Last years winner, Joe Havelka, took third place, winning dinner for 2 at the inn.

Congratulations to all of this years Birch Ridge Cup winners, and thank you to all of the people who played in the 2017 Thursday Night Twilight League at Green Mountan National Golf Course.

Where ever you may be, keep it in the fairway, and savor the last days of summer.

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