Photo essay by Brian Mohr and Emily Johnson
They come softly, those first few flakes, quieting the world. In these early days of winter, we marvel at each one, gazing up to catch a crystal on our tongue, running our hands through the light mounds of snow that pile up on fence posts. This is the enchanting season.
“Lil’ Snowflake” is the nickname Brian Mohr and Emily Johnson of EmberPhoto gave their first born daughter, Maiana. Professional photographers, adventurers and leaders in Vermont’s growing backcountry movement, they have taken her skiing before she could walk. In doing so, they have introduced Maiana (and now their second daughter Lenora, too) to a gift that will last a lifetime: the joy of snow and the beauty of Vermont winter.
One of the most intense snowfalls we’ve ever witnessed happened on December 28, a few winters back, when moisture from Lake Champlain fueled upslope snow showers over the ridgelines of Sugarbush and Mad River Glen. In the mountains, more than eight inches fell in two to three hours. Emily ventured out then (above), as she does now, sharing snowy days with Maiana (below).
At two, Lil’ Snowflake has learned to love a good snowstorm as much as anyone—as long as she’s geared up for the occasion. One late afternoon, we skied from Sugarbush to Mad River Glen, and sat Lil’ Snowflake on the historic single chair (below right). It was the perfect little swing.
As the snow accumulates, it makes our favorite front country and backcountry terrain more accessible, letting our buddy Andy Weis sneak into relatively steep and obscure lines like “The Skinny” (below).
We ski every day in the winter months, even if it means just a quick skin (or three) to carve some fresh turns in the fields near our home in Moretown (above). Emily skied up until the evening she went into labor with Maiana.
We first took the girls out skiing in our chest carriers when Maiana was was just 10 days old and Lenora, three weeks. Now Maiana is two and a half and already trying out her own skis. Lenora, now three months, has grown into her sister’s carrier and our adventures continue.