Long Trail Lodge: Another Bunny Trail Tale
Apres Life in Central VT (evening of day 4 in the string “Extended Circle” of 14-15)
This side-story or “bunny trail” hops around my “Extended Circle Route” of the 14/15 season. John and I were in Vermont capturing 5 ‘n 5. In advance planning we conferred with Jack, a native of Killington who went on to carve a career position in Tahoe, the most diverse ski region anywhere. Not only was Jack a notable mover and shaker at Squaw Valley, basin, but he married up with Virginia who was an instructor of note at Northstar resort. They have allied and aided the BSC instruction and coaching teams for years!
We sat with Jack and Virginia during one of our now well established afternoon sessions at BSC which immediately follow our Saturday lessons: Live music by leading local bands combined by BYO, pot-look snacks, munchies sharing all of which starts shortly following dismissal time at the Xtreme Team camp. Jack and Virginia return frequently to their early stumping ground: Rutland. VT and Killington resort. “If you’re going to Ver,ont. you have to meet Oke,” they advised. Did they steer us right? Oh yea! “After skiing, stop at the Long Trail lodge The manager is an old friend of ours,” we’re informed. “Oke is a character, and he has a bottomless bag of tales and stories.”
This advice is to good to pass over. After four days of John’s healthy vegetables balanced by my junk food, it was our night to enjoy a real meal. (I try to enjoy at least one decent dinner a week.) The “Long Trail Lodge” is a well regarded local spot. The food is good. The atmosphere is “my-kind” and the bar alone is worthy a visit. The Lodge lies right on the Long Trail of Vermont. Sections of the trail double as the well regarded, very famous “Appalachian Trail”. In Vermont like all mountain states, summer is just as much if not more fun as winter.
The Long Trail Lodge has a sister camping facility. Over time it has established itself as a fine rest stop and comfortable oasis for the countless hikers to break for good food, real accommodations, a watering hole and solid camaraderie. For years guests have signed the guest book and often adding comments for fellow travelers, kith ‘n kin at home and posterity in general.
So John and I stopped in on our return from a frigid day at Killington. I was still frozen and was most likely carrying a chip on my shoulder. Bah, humbug! You could probably read it on my face. Upon entering to a warm greeting, I inquired of the front desk, “Say, do you know a guy named Okie?
“I might.”, was the cautious reply accompanied by an incisive, but not intrusive look-over.
Well, I knew instantly. “You’re him!” I blurted,” as my frosty demure was not simply melted, but rather evaporated. “Jack and Virginia.” I continued, “send their best. They advised us ‘gotta meet Oke’. I think they’re right.”
Oke was actually working so he politely turned down my offer to tip a few with us. But he opened up and the information, jokes and stories began to flow. Virginia and Jack were right and right on. What a time. What an education. John and I did eventually took a break to eat.
Among a myriad of other BS, Oke informed us of his sign-in routine and ritual – sign the guestbook and comment if you choose. John recalled his wife’s parents had hiked the Long Trail years prior. On the spot, during our delicious dinner, John called to connect with Bill, his father-in-law. “Yes.”, Bill replied from afar. “In deed Pat and I had stopped to break at the Long Trail,” he continued, “but, most likely not the Lodge but the campground.” Oke dug out the records and John poured over the archives in search of the cherished treasured signatures. All transpired while savoring a few drafts. We didn’t unearth the buried prize, but it was fun was in the hunt: searching, sharing and consuming the “Cracker-Jacks” and infrequent “peanut” en route as we “hiked” the trail back in time. The entire experience itself a memory in the making, topped with the forging of new friends. Thank you one and all.
Stop and say “hello” to Okie. Enjoy the meal or stay the night, ski the entire central VT region or concentrate on a couple fine resorts. Then share the good news.
Then, go on to day 5 … Come, Ski With Me!