Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Was this the last day of skiing at Killington for the 2011-2012 Season?

Honestly, I have been avoiding writing this blogpsot like the plague. Instead of sneaking in ski days all through June, this season barely made it to Memorial Day. I am not complaining about the lack of snow or the nasty sunburn from which I am suffering today, but I am still having difficulty accepting the end. We have known for quite some time that the snowmelt has been about six weeks ahead of schedule, but it didn't really hit me until is past weekend when I went to say a final farewell to the tiny unskiable patch that was left at the very bottom of Superstar (guess those big fan guns work pretty well).

With Vespi by my side, we ran almost desperately up to this tiny little unskiable patch and I unceremoniously collapsed to my knees. Not feeling in control of myeslf, I hesistantly placed my right palm directly onto the snow and my eyes closed to hold back everything that had been bottled up inside me. I took a deep breathe...and then another. Like Spock trying a mind meld, I reached my soul deeper into the snow. I was trying to feel myself skiing just by coming into contact with what was left of another ski season. Lost in the moment, I could hear the laughter of skiers and snowboarders, the sounds of schussing and gliding surrounded me.
And then I opened my eyes.
And I could feel the hot spring sun beating down on my exposed shoulders. There would be no silly wandering around the mountain looking for leftover patches this spring. I was going to say goodbye first. I was not going to let the mountain lead me along like some lovesick teenage girl. I didn't need winter to define every waking moment of my life. I was retaking control of my life before I completely lost my inner self to the mountain. My days would no longer be defined by the texture of the snow or the amount of it. Slowly, deliberately, I stood up, turned around and without looking over my shoulder even once, walked away.
My romance with winter was over.

Now...where is my paddle?

Sunset from Woodward Reservoir

The boyfriend and I spent hours on Woodward Reservoir this past Monday. I kept paddling the circumference round and round in circles while he searched for the two remaining fish residing in this body of water post-Irene. What a stark contrast to the hundred beds surrounding the islands on Kent Pond in Killington. But on our quiet and distinct journeys we enjoyed the pleasure of having an entire reservoir all to ourselves. It seemed at the time like the epitome of a feeling like just another part of a greater whole... No wonder we didn't want to leave and ended up staying on the water until sunset :)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Lake Lila Canoe Trip: The Flatwater Gem of the Adirondacks

The first canoe camping trip of the season is always anticipated by great - if not over - enthusiasm. Even though we are still skiing everyday in Killington, the water and air temperatures have finally stabilized enough that we felt the urge to head out into the Adirondack backcountry for a few days. After skiing then working Monday morning, we loaded up the car and knowingly headed into three full days of pouring rain.
Except that when we got wasn't raining at all. In fact, what we thought was going to be a gnarly night paddling against choppy whitecaps turned into a just plain sexy knife cut through the glass. This was flatwater canoeing at it's finest. Nobody comes out here. You have to risk trashing your car's underbelly along public easeways and miles of dirt road before having to portage your canoe.
And yet, there is always at least one other car there.
And yet, you never hear or see anybody.
What you do hear are the sounds of the wind, rustling through the tall pine trees so categoristically adirondack. You can hear a beaver's tail slapping the water on the totally other side of the lake. A sound so loud, it feels like a gunshot. We vow to go check it out tomorrow. There are loons crowing in the background. The first dry moments in what has felt like just another rainy mud season on the northeast. All the creatures of the lake were out to celebrate the break in the rain.
So enjoy it we did.
To feel the boat slicing through the water when it's flat like that, it's like making a perfect railroad track turn across perfectly groomed terrain. Your edges slice throught the snow, and with one smooth movement your skis come around. There is no resistance against the bow of the canoe and it feels like you are floating effortlessly across the lake. You can feel the lake gliding along the hull, like rubbing your hand across a silk sheet. Just something special.
And completely unexpected.
Tuesday's weather, however, was expected.
It poured.
And I mean, it seriously poured.
You just had to laugh sometimes at the craziness of it all. The rain began just as we were getting ready to launch in the morning. And it didn't let up until we returned to the site that night. We pulled our pruned hands out of our gloves only once - to eat some local summer sausage & cheddar. Best meal ever on a rainy day. You take your knife, cut of a big hunk of each and nibble away at the two like a mouse. And it's so damp out that the cheese has thoroughly breathed beyond anyone's expectations. Vespi is miserable in her rubber rain coat and lays her head on the side of the canoe.
And yet, we are all smiling :)
It was one of the more rediculous things I have done in a while. I am having the most wonderful time, humming to myself, playing with the raindrops as I pull my paddle though the air. There are so many of them. And they are coming down in sheets and sheets. And I am think we are freaking crazy wierdos for being out here. Everything around us is soaked. As we find an outlet, we paddle closer to shore and notice that even the plants are beyond beading up and are instead completely waterlogged. Even the proud Bald Eagle didn't really seem to pertutbed about the rain.
I guess all the animals - us included - were more than willing to enjoy a day like today after an evening like the previous one.
But we were to be treated wonderfully Tuesday night, because as we arrived back at the campsite, the clouds finally dried out and we were able to eat on one of the rocks off of our own little Gilligan's Island. We looked out across the lake and cooked our dinner to the magic of not only the setting sun...but of a glorious rainbow as well. Everywhere we turned, something magical was happening across the water. We remembered that last year we had seen a fox scampering along the opposite shoreside, but not tonight. Perhaps everyone was simply exhausted from having to deal with the rain.
We couldn't resist just one more fling with the lake before nestling into our sleeping bags for the night. The pinkish-purple lights from the sunset were mirrored in the ripples of the lake water beneath us. My paddle even started to take on a pinkish hue. Not only was the sky glowing, but the lake was too. And the smells! So fresh and clean, as the rain clenses thearh. To be a part of a second glorious evening on the water? Last night was filled with energy and excitement from the locals, but tonight all the animals seemed content to sit back and enjoy a beautiful evening.
The next morning brought crazy sunshine!!
So much so that we were able to do some basking in the heat to warm our bodies to the spine. It was heavenly. Yoga next to or on the water is jsut one of the most spectacualr expereinces you can have. You can time your breath to the waves hitting the rock or beach...and just trying thinking about half moon when you're gonna fall over into the water! But the openess of being on a's can be so completely overwhelming but equalizing all the time.
But then the clouds change.
And you realize that the clouds coming toward the lake are turning grey in the distance and starting to move upward. We throw the myriad of drybags in the canoe, wait the obligatory 2 minutes while Vespi rocks back and forth, hoping to get her timing right for entry. It 's the strangest process - and one frankly that we don't understand. She refuses any help, but just doesn't seem to trust the canoe at all. It might have something to do with all th times she's had two legs on the shore and two legs on the can picture her stretching out in desperation to keep the two toegether before she falls belly first into the we just wait.
But she loves being on the the water just as much as we do.

May You Find the Spirit of the Mountains Within You,
Merisa & Vespi

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Beauty of Earning Your Turns

It's not all about the skiing.
Well, at least not while you're hiking up to get your turns in.

 While hiking the same route up Superstar that I've been following for the past few weeks, I came across this plant enjoying the pouring rain in which we were hiking. I was captivated by the one drop of rain calmly nestled inside, completely saved from the chaos that is hiking with two golden retreivers. Somehow, amidst all that, I saw this, stepped back and without removing my skis from my shoulder, shot this peaceful moment.

Crazy Ski Bum-ness is Hereditary

Due to some real world commitments (like a job & family) my dad has been unable to ski for like almost an entire month! This has been absolute torture for him. He missed the Great April Dump, lots of beautiful days basking in the sunshine while riding the Superstar Quad and several trips hiking up to the top of Skye with Coopie. So, of course, when he finally has two consecutive days off in a row and is able to make it up to rains :(

But does that stop my dad?


After working from home all day and watching the rain pitter patter on the windows, we finally gave up waiting for a lull and decided to get our butts out there.
We were not going to be deterred from earning our turns just because of a little bit of really cold and miserable looking rain. We have plenty of high quality rain gear - a Vermont lifestyle requirement - so there were no excuses as we started up the mountain.

For some stupid reason I could not find my spring ski gloves. I must have some black spring glove curse because I have purchased more than several pairs from varying companies over the years (this latest being from Mountain Hardwear) and have misplaced every single pair. The pair before these - from Dakine - I left on the roof of our car as we drove away from Pinkham Notch after skiing Tuckerman Ravine. Sooo frustrating. But what's worse is that I have managed to never lose this pretty hideous pair of white leather gloves from Rossignol's early 1990s spring collection. Sigh. Maybe like my hot pink gaitors they will come back into style one day.
I digress.
Oh - but my point was that my hands were absolutely freezing the entire time.
I was losing dexterity so fast I could barely hold my ski poles!!

Hiking this time of year in Killington is usually very exciting. The rain brings exciting new growth to the fields and forests just about every day. This past few days meant that trillium have begun to open, ramps are plentiful and those little yellow ones whose name I can't remember begin to stand strong. But I saw a new plant today that I had only just noticed, a simple low lying little guy that just happened to be the resting place for one lonely droplet of rain. Love it!

Anyways, back to my dad being awesome.
When we reached the snowline, we posed for our obligitory family portrait, although this year would celebrate a new family member while simultaneously mourning the loss of the old. But, like my Great Uncle Jerry passed down skiing to my father before me, now we pass on the family tradition to Coopie - and there is no doubt about how much he has already come to look forward to our times on snow together, racing down the mountain.

So we dutifully pose for our group shot...
pause for a while to cherish the view and sit with our butts in the snow while we snuggle with our puppies...

and then it is time to ski!
With a deep breath and a growing grin, we take off down the trail, ever conscious of where tiny paws are relative to our sharp metal edges.
Dad and dog
Daughter and dog
We Ski
A Ski Family

Yeah, my old man can rip!

May You Find the Spirit of the Mountains With You,
Merisa & Vespi

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Skiing under quiet Rain Clouds

It had rained all day. A deep, penetrating rain that made anyone who is still earning their turns extremely nervous.
How much snow would we lose?
Puppy Cooper would be arriving sometime around seven o'clock, so we waited for him before heading up Superstar. The rain held off for a few hours and we were able to get some turns in as the sun set behind the mountain. On our second run, we noticed the crazy storm break clouds hovering across the valley. As the two puppies ran everywhere and celebrated their ski time by rolling in and eating the snow, I couldn't resist stopping for longer than usual to capture this photograph.
The Skiing, by the way, was absolutely fantastic.
Definitely less snow, but way more than I was expecting :)
May You Find the Spirit of the Mountains Within You,
Merisa, Vespi & Coopie

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

New Beachfront Property in Killington...for the Snails

The moving water of Tropical Storm Irene transformed the surface floor of the Town of Killington's very own Kent Pond. Where there used to be decaying leaves and twigs, there is now only sandy beach on the pond floor. While the fish might not be too happy with the lack of places to hide, the snails are thriving! We noticed on our canoe paddle that the shallow cove floors are decorated with hundreds of snail trails...this big boy is about the size of a baby's fist and you can just make out his path spiraling behind him :)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Mountain Bleeds White

As the rainy, rainy season appraoches, we donned our rain gear and set off in search of run-off streams lined with the vibrant greens of new spring growth. This stream is brand new, courtesy of Tropical Storm Irene, but still shows the beauty that is Vermont in the transition toward becoming the Green Mountains.

Studying Her Line

Vespi gazes downhill from the snowline on Superstar Headwall underneath some pre-rain clouds one evening - studying the remains on the trail that lies below before we ski on down

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Struggling with Puppy Rehab

As Vespi approaches her eleventh birthday next month, we have been struggling through trying to get her arthritis symptoms under control. There are all kinds of new (nd very expensive) glucosomine and chondroitin powders and treats, Omega 3 goo to drizzle atop her food and Apple Cider Vinegar to add to her water.

All this to get her back to where she wants to be:
Our mini nightmare began about one month ago, with that first few inches that we had in April. She and I got a little greedy for fresh snow and did several laps on the powder covered icy bumps of Skye Lark. It wasn't too long after that where she started to actually look her age. No one in the shop was asking about the four year pup, but instead giving sympathetic looks as the old dog gimped over to them.
It was extremely painful to watch, and the pain in her eyes was eating straight through to my heart.
And then it got worse.
While we were puppy sitting Cooper, I got up to go skiing early in the morning. When she heard me in the ski room gwthering my gear, she hobbled up the stairs to confirm that I was, indeed, going skiing without her. She stood in the doorway, looking from me, to the puppy to my skis and back to me. I coud feel the sorrow building up inside her as she took a deep sigh and turned around, going back to bed and being just extremely depressed.
There was skinning and skiing to be done.
And for the first time...
she would be staying home.
We tried taking her for shorter hikes,
but she would ask to turn around about half way up RamsHead.
She would look wistfully at the summit,
then start backpeddling for whence we had came.
X-Rays at the Vet's office revealed serious arthritis in her front elbows, with her right elbow being a candidate for laser treatments and anti-inflammitories.
Vespi was officially a senior dog.
But then something magical happened.
We have taken up Disc Golf, something that we can do together.
A one-hour adventure full of great sniffs and a
pace slow enough that any dog could have a wonderful time.
It gave her freedom.
It gave her happiness.
And even though she couldn't go skiing, she was starting to get out and about again.
She was willing to jump in and out of the car again
(although she still patiently waits for a spotter)
She was wrestling with the puppy.
She made it to the top of RamsHead
And now she wanted to ski.
Now granted, this would be a different type of skiing.
This would not be non-stop, top to bottom.
This would not be a full speed, ski chasing adventure.
But when she saw my skis come out last week,
there was a glimmer of hope in her eyes.
She stretched in downward dog as well as she could,
shook her hind legs out and trotted to the door.
She started panting with the excitement of it all.
She was ready.

It was hard work.
It was slow paced.
It was a trot.
But It was skiing.
Our first run together last week brought tears to my eyes
(I was just dehydrated & over-tired from the hike, I'm sure)
And a look of pure and utter joy to hers.
Those weeks where we wondered if she'd ever be able
to run down the trail on my tails again were over.
We were together, skiing, and having a marvelous time.
There were more stops and more huggies,
and we still have a long way to go
before skiing Tuckerman's or Low Rider in the deep powder,
but we are progressing & moving forward.
on our mountain.

We are Skiing.
May You Find the Spirit of the Mountains Within You,
FemaleSkiBum & Vespi

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A Puppy in Vermont, Spring 2012

When we first picked him up on Thursday evening,
six month old Cooper realized he could no longer fit underneath Vespi.
Today, he has discovered the ancient art of humping.

It's amazing what five days of skiing and hiking in Vermont.
Even change a puppy into a dog.
Mixing it up with a hike up Deer Leap,
a quick one hour hike on a former sectn of the AT/LT that meanders around the back of the 60-110 foot cliffs that make up the Deer Leap Crag
Or how about a little disc golf at Base Camp Outfitters,
a great place for pups to hang out!
Or maybe a three hour hike up to the summit of RamsHead...
But really, we know it's all about the skiing!
May You Find the Spirit of the Mountains within You,
FemaleSkiBum, Vespi & Coopie