Monday, February 27, 2012

February Fresh

 Here in the northeast, we've recently been rewarded with a long-awaited thing: winter. To the tune of 12-24 inches of the fresh, fluffy white stuff. Needless to say: we've all been pretty stoked. To celebrate the new arrival of the white stuff, we headed early morning on Sunday to do some dawn patrol at our local mountain. Typically we skin up one of the main trails before the lifts start running, but on this particular morning, the groomers were out in full force. We've had some run-ins with some of the groomers - they don't always like that we're there, and they certainly don't like that our dogs are there. And I can understand why, but on this particular day, we had to get to work by 9am (well, 9:30...more on that later) and we also had to get some of that fresh, fluffy white stuff. So, off we headed to our local ski hill...and there we found knee-deep powder.

Kip, Tristan, and I plowed into the parking lot early morning and met our friend Jase (he has a broken leg, but still joined for the camaraderie of dawn patrol, a ski which he normally would have joined us on). He set up a chair, played with the dogs, and laughed with us about everything. He's a good friend. And, finally, after much fiddling around with skis, boots, skins, and etc. we started our skin - and Jase his short shuffle, up to the start of the ski trail. Jase waved good bye - it was sad to leave him there as we trekked into the fresh powder. Next year, Jase! 

Now, I should have mentioned sooner that Jase agreed to take our dog Odin back to his house with him while we skied - we didn't want Odin to get in the way of the groomers. So, with dogs in the car, Jase headed back to the parking lot and we warily started off towards a couple of groomers. Not wanting to get in their way, we quickly ditched into the woods. And that's when we heard it: "OOOOOOOOODDDDDDDDDDDIIIIIIINNNNNN!!!!!!" We looked back and what did we see? Odin, dragging his leash, running madly for the woods behind us. He was not going to be left behind on a powder day! (We learned later that Odin took a millisecond opportunity to clear the backseat and squeeze out the door as Jase opened the back hatch of his Suby.). In truth, I was so happy to see him. And I really admire his little doggy spirit: There was fresh snow, and he wasn't going to miss it. 

So up we skinned  through the deep fluff and trees. It was a great skin. We all agreed: the ups are just as good as the downs. We got out of the woods with the first light of day streaming through the spruce tops and naked birch limbs - that will never cease to be one of my favorite sights. We skinned up the rest of the way to the top on groomed trails. Once there, we ripped our skins off, set up for the descent, and headed down - the boys through the woods and me on the groomer. I wanted to practice my telemark turns.

We all met up again further down the mountain, after I had my first several glorious turns through knee-deep fluff. What a feeling! The sound of gliding through fresh snow reverberates through your whole body. And, at three years in to trying, my telemark turns are starting to form - I made some really silky turns down the upper portion of the trail. I stopped to take it all in. And after a little while, Kip joined me and we waited for Tristan. And waited. And waited. "He was right behind me," Kip said. We could barely make out a figure through the trees, further up the trail, moving around eratically. Was he hurt? Kip started the climb back up and, after a few minutes, I followed. It was the camera; Tristan had demoed from ORS a helmet cam to video-tape our descent and, upon face planting into the snow, lost it in feet of powder! Kip and Tristan looked frantically and, eventually, Kip found it. After a little celebration, we all headed down to make turns together.

The camera search had set us back time-wise, so no second lap for us. But it was all so worth it. And I'm so glad to have shared a great day on skis with friends and my dog.