I often do my best thinking under stress, which explains why my thoughts were crystal clear on this particular Saturday afternoon last summer as I was making my way slowly back to Stowe, Vt.
On my road bike, I was finishing up a long loop that was ending on Route 108 with a 1,600-foot climb up and over the Mount Mansfield pass from Jeffersonville known as Smugglers’ Notch. With the sun burning high, temperatures in the 80s and my water supply depleted, my heart rate was pounding on the roof as my tired body struggled mightily to keep the pedals turning.
It was here that I realized what makes a place truly special. The place should have four distinct seasons, each offering a unique beauty. It should embody at its core both epic challenge and grand leisure, with diversity of weather and terrain that will test one’s mettle yet also soothe with stunning perfection. It should nourish the soul as a picturesque backdrop that brings families and loved ones closer together while at the same time beckoning solitary exploration. It should respect its history as the bedrock that will support its future.
Stowe is such a place.