words and photos: Dan Brown/Kapitol Photo
This past fall, I received an email from a friend letting me know he'd won a reservation at the Stone Hut on Stowe via a lottery and asked if I'd join him and a group of friends for the night. Now for those not in the know, you might assume that I was in for a spa & ski experience, a day of meticulous groomers with fresh corduroy followed by an aprés ski scene of champagne and caviar. After all, Stowe has just recently opened the Mountain Lodge which rivals any resort out West for it's luxury, fine dining, and rooms. That, however, was not the case, as I was treated to one of Vermont State Park's little, and perhaps best, secret which allowed me to see that Stowe still has rough edges if you know where to look for them, creating a great juxtaposition of "down to basics & necessity" to "down blankets & pillows."
The Stone Hut, as summarized on the Vermont State Parks website, "was originally built as a warming hut in 1936 by the Civilian Conservation Corps", better known to anyone familiar with ski area history as the CCC which were responsible for cutting the original ski trails that grace the front of Mount Mansfield and elsewhere in Vermont. The Stone Hut is a joint operated public lodging facility between the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation and the Stowe Mountain Resort. The Hut earns it's namesake from it's stonework which forms the building's walls. The interior is cozy yet will comfortable sleep twelve people on wooden platforms that line either side of the hut. Mattresses are provided but it's strongly encouraged that visitors bring gear equipped for winter camping such as a sleeping bags as the only heat source is a small but adequate wood stove. Wood is provided, kindling is not. Food and lighting are also a must as you're S.O.L if you don't bring pack in either necessity. Restrooms & water are located in Stowe's Octagon lodge adjacent to the Hut which is a quick, but chilly walk through the snow. Advice: Go to the bathroom before you go to sleep.