Lots of Snow Still Sticking Around

IMG_0069Most winters we get some snow here and there, and the total we get adds up to a pretty decent amount. We also usually get rain, however, or at least a solid thaw. We don’t typically get lots of snow that stays on the ground as the kind of snow one can enjoy. It often turns to slush, or freezes solid enough to walk on. This year we have snow for skiing and it has been sticking around.

This past week was vacation week from school. All of us were home and we did not venture anywhere beyond our local haunts. This meant we went skiing several times. We leased skis for our kids this year, as we have the past couple of years. This is a good deal, first because they our kids are growing so fast that buying skis makes little sense financially; they will grow enough that the boots and skis are too small by the next season. As a bonus with the lease deal each set comes with an envelope of coupons. These include free or discount passes to local ski areas. Those coupons alone make it worth the lease. The amount we save with them more than pays for the lease. This past week we skied at Bolton Valley.

It was cold. It has been a cold winter and last week that cold continued. Some of the days last week we ruled out as ski days just because it would have been unpleasant. When the high temperature is forecast to be in the single digits in the valley, with strong winds, well, skiing just isn’t all that fun. It takes a lot of energy to ignore numb toes and frozen cheeks. It gets unsafe even. But we went when temperatures were in the teens, and the sun was shining. That was way fun. The last time we went was what one calls a Bluebird Day–clear skis and no wind and just awesome. We rode the lift up and skied our way down over and over, breaking only for lunch and heading home in the afternoon. Tons of fun.

When your kids are tuckered and they tell you “I love skiing” on the way home, you know you have hit the winning number. Since we live in a state with many ski areas, it makes sense to take advantage of that resource. The snow was great (not icy at all as it often can be when the snow fails to accumulate enough), the sun was shining, and we all have the skill to really just have a blast. Plenty of people will tell you they are sick of winter, but when we get so much snow, and it keeps piling up, I just cannot complain. I hate to complain anyway. That just seems like a waste of energy to me. Enjoy this now while it is here, I say. Spring will be here soon enough.



Snow Today

Snow and Dusk Falling

So it’s November 30 and the ground is not frozen. Actually, we have hardly had any snow. We had one October storm and then, well, not much. This weekend snow fell in the mountains, finally. When we lived up next to Bolton Valley resort they aimed to open on Thanksgiving weekend each year. This year it has hardly been cold enough to make snow. Apparently 20 inches fell on the top of Mount Mansfield over the past few days. Now we’re talking.

Today it spit snow on and off in the valley as well. As darkness spread across the fields, snow was falling steadily. It even gathered in a few spots. Winter is being shy this year. Fall has been ready to give up the ghost but I guess winter has been willing to step up and take over. That works out well in several ways but with December beginning tomorrow, I am ready for some snow. I would love to see snow for the 25th, of course, but I also simply am ready to make the transition.

So here’s to snow! Fall on down, fall on down. In this house at least you will be welcome.

“Night” Skiing

We went up as a family to Bolton Valley this evening for one last bout of night skiing.  The last time I did this was with my daughter, just the two of us, before the daylight savings shenanigans; we skied under the lights and had a blast.  The children were disappointed that there was still plenty of daylight tonight.  We left just after 7:00, the sun setting as we walked back to the car.

Since we lived up at Bolton Valley, we have known that this time of year one can find some of the best skiing to be had.  There is plenty of snow by now and the days are warm enough to soften up even the gnarliest ice.  And now we have sunlight so late that it is more enjoyable than working with the shadows of the bright lights.  In December scores of people are on the mountain.  Often it is icy and thin and crowded and that, I can tell you, is not what I’m talking about.

People get sick of skiing once the warm weather hits.  School skiing programs end.  I think a lot of people kind of forget about it.  They start biking and skateboarding and whatnot.  Spring activities get underway.  Who wants more snow?  At least it seems that is the question that gets asked.  But it really is the time to hit the slopes.  Spring skiing means warm air, fewer people and lots of snow.  What’s not to like?

We were not up there long tonight.  We did a few runs, ate the light dinner we brought, shared a waffle from the waffle cabin and headed home in the fading light.  We will head up again tomorrow to ski with friends.  We are now debating whether or not to purchase season’s passes for next year.  My daughter is now old enough that we need to purchase a pass for her.  With the current prices (“low” for now, soon to rise) it would cost us over a thousand bucks.  Is it worth it?

If we go as many times as this year, and take advantage of discounts and deals when we find them, we might come out even or even ahead when it comes to the bottom line.  The problem is that without passes we will likely go less.  Every time we consider going it will become a financial decision–Do we want to spend a hundred bucks for a couple of runs? Some of those times we will decide not to go because our answer will be no.  Do we want to decide whether we go today or wait until tomorrow?  Or do we want to decide whether we go skiing this weekend at all?

It is a tough call.  I get that we are fortunate enough to be in the position of parsing the details of this question.  I want our kids to learn to ski or ride and choose for themselves if it is a sport they want to pursue.  That means getting them out when they are young.  Just going a handful of times would be fun, but to really learn it they need to do it a lot.  Whether we get passes or not we are talking some bucks.

We had a good time tonight.  Since we spent the money on passes months ago, we had the incentive to go so we get our money’s worth, and we also could feel fine with just a few runs.  Next year could be a different story.

Sore and Glad to be Sore

Apparently over six feet of snow fell on Bolton Valley over the past week. That is pretty nuts. That is a lot of snow. Their total for the year so far was 272 inches when I checked earlier. When we lived up there we had a few 300-inch years. Those were good years. This one is shaping up to be in the running.

I left later than I wanted this morning but I finally got my gear together and headed up there. I was solo. My wife stayed home with the children while I skied. I was riding the lift about an hour after they opened. Come to think of it, the lift I was riding might have opened a little later than the others, so maybe I was only a half hour behind first tracks, but I did pretty well. There was plenty of untracked powder for me to track up. I only skied for an hour and a half but that was about all I could take.

I would ride up, ski down and hop right back on. No dallying for me. Since I telemark, deep snow means lots of up and down. For someone who has not skied much this winter, it also means sore thighs. I could feel the burn as I hopped and carved. I did stop in the middle of runs more than once, to take a break and catch my breath, but also just to marvel at the snow. It was deep and beautiful and wondrous.

I don’t know how many runs I took. Plenty, I suppose. I got way tired and had lots of fun. Snow that deep feels just plain dreamy. Floating on it feels like flying. I sometimes compare it to whitewater boating. Both offer the sensation of fluid movement, where one feels partly in control and partly in the flow of gravity and the elements. Catching a turn or a wave just right makes me feel a union of sorts with the world.

That is what life is about–the feeling of being so in the moment, feeling so part of your little piece of the world, that all else falls away. Joy, that’s what it is. Call it idealistic if you will, or even foolish, but if you do, I am guessing you have never had the feeling. It can come from other things as well, I am sure.  These are two that I know.

Driving home I could feel my sore muscles with every depression of the clutch. It reminded me that I should get out there more. I should take the time to get out there, and I should make sure my kids get to know that feeling of joy through experience. I am sore, but I hope to get out there again tomorrow. We will take the kids, but we will also get a few runs in ourselves, just to see if there is some powder still to cut up somewhere on the edge of the trail. Maybe I will find a spot tomorrow to ride the fluff again, even for just a few turns.

First Ski Day

Brian Jenkins Burlington Free Press

Brian Jenkins Burlington Free Press

Today was opening day at Bolton Valley so we headed up there for some early skiing.  We had a blast.  We took only a few runs (the kids are still getting their ski legs on) but got the feel of it.  I even got a few turns in on my own while sliding down the trails with my daughter.  I had my first spill as I tried to take a small jump ( I landed it but ate white with my first turn).

We stayed warm enough and the place was not as packed as we thought it might be.  I had the impression that there were just as many people there as on opening day last year but somehow things ran more smoothly.  Everything just seemed to flow a little better.  We got our passes in just a few minutes, didn’t have to wait in line for the lift, found a place to park, even found a spot to put on our boots with no problem.

Once we had fun on the slopes we headed around the corner.  We lived up there for over a decade and we wanted to check out our old house.  We designed and built it one summer and fall, and it was an odd feeling to leave it.  It turns out that the new owners added a couple of touches we had wanted to add ourselves but did not–a large front porch and a small roof over the front door.  It looks great.  It looks better on the outside than it ever did when we lived there.

It was a great place to live and both of us felt we could be happy up there still.  Winter up there meant we were in the place to be.  We always had snow on Christmas, but we couldn’t have much of a garden.  One can’t have everything, but it sure was nice to put on boots and walk up the hill and take a few runs, all without driving.  Ah, but how about that popcorn we grew this summer?

Tomorrow we will likely head up there again, get the itch scratched for the weekend.  We will have to load the car and drive up there like everyone else.  For now, that’s what we’ve got.  Yesterday I was outside while my son stomped around on the frozen garden.  I started mentally planning what we might grow next summer.  Some days I ski.  Some days I pull weeds.  That isn’t easy to do all in one place.  As for tomorrow, I may spend some time thinking about gardening, but one should ski while the snow is on the mountain.