Why I Live in a Mountain Town
Why I Live in a Mountain Town (Photo: Nelson Brown)
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Why I Live in a Mountain Town

A Sugarbush ski and bike patroller shares his blueprint for living well in Vermont's Mad River Valley

Why I Live in a Mountain Town
Nelson Brown
K. Matt Brown

Even with decades of familiarity with the Mad River Valley of Vermont, I’m constantly surprised by the beauty and unique experiences the area has to offer. Sure, there are days when I become entangled in the fast pace of my daily routine. But all I ever have to do during those moments is recall my father’s advice to look around and remember why I live here.

The Tranquility

On the banks of the Mad River, just after sunrise, I start the workday with my favorite meditation: fly-fishing. Well, fly-fishing and drinking strong coffee. I lift my Hydro Flask All Around Tumbler and drink the last of the steaming goodness before casting.

Fly-Fishing in Vermont
The 20-ounce All Around Tumbler is ready for morning brews or microbrews, keeping drinks cold or hot for hours. (Photo: Nelson Brown)

The first few casts are tests of muscle memory. Resting on the surface, my fly drifts placidly through ripples and foam. All is quiet, until chaos suddenly erupts and the fly dips into the blue-green water. My arm raises and the line tightens and twitches. Sometimes I catch a fish, sometimes I don’t, but it doesn’t matter. It’s enough to be by the water.

The hike back to my truck echoes the serenity of the morning. And as the New England fog rises, the lush mountains come into view. Before I hop into the cab, I pull my Lightweight Wide Mouth Trail Series water bottle from my backpack for a few big sips of cool water before I begin my commute to work.

Fly-fishing in Vermont
The Lightweight Wide Mouth Trail Series stainless-steel insulated water bottle is made for hiking and backpacking. The wide opening lets you add ice, and the 32-ounce volume holds hours of hydration. (Photo: Nelson Brown)

The Legacy

My workday underway, I connect the ensuing coffee and water breaks with that fatherly advice to look around. I steal moments to watch the clouds drifting through the peaks and the wildflowers dancing in concert with the rain-dampened pines. 

Picnic lunch in Vermont
These insulated food jars will keep your food fresh, no matter where the day takes you. (Photo: Nelson Brown)

The leftover pasta in my Insulated Food Jar is reminiscent of family recipes shared, like my passion for this place, by generations of skiers and outdoors people. These mountains have literally been the backdrop of my life. This is where I had my first ski lesson from my grandfather and enjoyed countless powder days with my mother.

The Ride

It’s quitting time at the office, but there are still hours of sunlight left. Although I’m relatively new to mountain biking, the sport has given me a fresh perspective of the area—and yet another way to chase mountain-town adrenaline and camaraderie.

Riding a chairlift in Vermont
The TempShield double-wall vacuum insulation on the Lightweight Wide Mouth Trail Series water bottle keeps drinks cold up to 24 hours (and hot up to 12). (Photo: Nelson Brown)

The smell of dirt and pine as the trail below and the trees above blur past—it’s all exhilarating. We burst through the tree line and glide to rest next to my truck, where my Carry Out Cooler waits with grillables from the East Warren Community Market and ice-cold drinks.

The Community

Of all the things that make this place home, the people top the list. All adventures are best shared, and throughout the years I’ve shared mine with a group whose backgrounds span from investment banking to van life (and everything in between). 

As the day comes to a close, we sit on tailgates and folding chairs at the base of Sugarbush. Tea is brewing on my camp stove, and I pour it into my All Around Tumbler. As usual, we use downtime after one adventure to plan the next: ski traverses, camping trips, river runs, hikes, and more. 

The sun fades, tailgates close, and the charcoal cools. I head home after another perfect day in the Green Mountains.

Hydro Flask
The Hydro Flask Carry Out Soft Cooler is the perfect compact insulated cooler to bring a little or a lot along for the day. (Photo: Nelson Brown)

Since 2009, Hydro Flask has designed gear that happily goes where you do and stays the perfect temp till the outdoor adventure is over. Today is wide open. And we’re up for anything. #HeyLetsGo

Lead Photo: Nelson Brown