This post was written by Mollie Flanigan, GMC’s Land Stewardship Coordinator.
On January 13, 2017, we celebrated the reopening of Bryant Camp, a historic cabin in Bolton Valley.
It was originally built by Edward Bryant sometime around 1930. He was a conservationist and skiing pioneer, who bought 4,000 acres in Bolton Valley in 1922 and developed a network of alpine ski trails, starting one of the first recreation areas of its kind in Vermont. After Bryant’s death in 1951, his Bolton Valley property was sold to a lumber company, and in 1963 it was sold to the DesLauriers family, who formed the Bolton Valley Corporation and constructed the access road up the valley and opened the Bolton Valley Ski Area in 1966.
In 2011 it was announced that much of Bolton Valley Resort’s Nordic and backcountry ski land would be sold to private interests and that the public would lose access to this area. Thanks to a community effort spearheaded by the Friends of Bolton Valley Nordic and Backcountry, Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, and the Vermont Land Trust, the money was raised to purchase the land and transfer it to the State of Vermont to incorporate into Mount Mansfield State Forest. Over these years of changes in land owners, Bryant Cabin remained open to the public either through free entry or rental by Bolton resort.
When the Vermont Department of Forest, Parks and Recreation became the owners of the land, they needed a partner to manage the two structures on the property, Bryant Camp and Bolton Lodge. The Green Mountain Club agreed to be the manager of these facilities in order to ensure that these historic structures would continue to serve the public and provide recreational opportunities in Bolton Valley, but they needed major renovations before opening for that purpose.
Bryant Camp is nearly 100 years old. It is a low laying building, on a wet site, and so much of its foundation, flooring, and siding needed to be replaced. The camp had also never had a proper privy, which had to be built if the cabin was going to be opened to the public. In addition, the cabin needed a new woodstove, staircase up to the sleeping loft, emergency exit, and new wood shed.
The cabin is in a remote location, only accessible via a one-mile, uphill Nordic ski trail. Due to this, the renovations met with some anticipated, but difficult challenges. Transporting all the lumber and tools up to the cabin was impeded by the wet, eroding trail and early snowfall. The early winter made for cold and harsh working conditions which drew out the timeline for the project. The work was done by GMC’s construction crew, which was up for the challenge, and they were able to finish the renovations by the end of 2016, thanks to a lot of hard work.
The reopening of Bryant Camp took place on a clear but cold and windy day. GMC staff, board, and other guests gathered to make the trek up the one-mile ski trail, many of them hauling sleds of firewood to help stock the cabin. Once at the top, they were treated to hot chocolate and a thank you speech by Executive Director Mike DeBonis, followed by a ribbon cutting by GMC President John Page and tours of the cabin and brand new privy. Bryant Camp is now open for rental from August 1st to March 31st every year. Renters get the exclusive use of this rustic cabin, which sleeps up to eight guests, and has a woodstove and composting privy, right in the heart of the Bolton Nordic Ski Area. Rates are $95 for a weekend night, $75 for a week day. More details can be found and reservations can be made on GMC’s Rental Cabins page.
In 2017 GMC is planning to start renovations on Bolton Lodge, a historic Long Trail Shelter that is located at the southern end of the Bolton Nordic Ski Area. That cabin will also be open for public rental once renovations are completed.
GMC also has the long-term goal of bringing hiking back to Bolton Valley. We are planning on building trails that will connect Bolton Lodge and Bryant Camp to the Long Trail and provide for year-round recreation in Bolton Valley once again.