Thursday, September 27, 2012

Ski Bum Phobia: A Fear of Missing the Snow

I am admitting to my fear and saying it outloud.

I am Afraid of Missing the Snow.

It begins with the height of foliage,
as the winter snow predictors begin to prostelitize about when the first snowfall may or may not arrive in Killington.

Above 4000' at Killington Peak,
maybe at Mount Washington,
maybe at doesn't matter.

If I can semi-logically deduce that there is even a 5-10% chance of snow in the area, the symptoms come rolling in and the anxiousness takes over my entire body.

My stomach starts to get all queezy
as I get way too overexcited about even the possibility of
playing in the snow.

And then my brain,
my way too over intense brain,
starts kicking in.

How much snow will it be?
Will there be enough snow on which to ski?
Where should I go to have the best chances of the most snow?
If I have to be at work by 9am, then I should be leaving the house by...
Which skis will be the most appropriate?
Do I know where my goggles are?
What about my ski socks?
Will I be able to get any sleep?
Will there be anyone else up there?
Will I have to share?
Maybe I should get up earlier?
Which ascent will be the sexiest?
Will I sleep through my alarm clock?
What if I don't have enough time to ski before work?
What if I miss the snow?

The last questions always makes me laugh.

Because I never leave town in the winter.
That way, it won't snow when I'm not here.

I manage a backcountry ski shop.
So...if I am running a wee bit late,
my bosses are stoked because I was out playing in the snow.

and finally:
because I have never, ever, slept through my alarm on a "powder" day.
In fact, I barely get any sleep at all.

I will toss and turn,
glancing around the window curtains in hopes of catching a glimpse of
some snowflakes falling in the night.
I will fluff my pillow over and over again,
vain attempts to stop the ski dreams from entering my head
just long enough to get some sleep.

Chances are that I will finally give up grying top sleep by around 4:30am,
watching Vespi to see if she is awake yet.

Most of the time, she has her nose on the bed,
asking if it is time to go yet.

I love her :)

in the fall and sometimes the winter,
there isn't any snow on the ground when I wake up.

Like this morning.
Somehow, I had gotten it into my head that it would snow above 4000 feet in Vermont.
I don't know...I guess I was just hoping that If I told enough people, if I told myself enough, that I could just will the snow into falling.

But I couldn't.
I bounced up out of bed this morning,
like I do every morning when the possibility of snow has entered my thoughts,
and saw...

I had a dream a few nights ago where it all seemed so real.
I had opened the bedroom door to let in the early morning sunlight
glistening off the white covered ground.
I dreamed up glitter snow.
It was so real, so gorgeous.
There is a wonderful peace that comes
when the world is covered in that blanket of white.

But not this morning.
Probably not any morning in September.
Just stupid, beautiful foliage.

So I get up, get dressed and go for my run.

And I wonder...
is this what Blue Balls Feels Like?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Autumn in Killington is for the Dogs

What dog doesn't love hiking Killington in the Gorgeous Vermont Foliage?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Golden Sunset of Autumn

In Vermont, as the temperatures turn cold and the air starts to clear,
the sunsets begin to take on a golden hue

Monday, September 17, 2012

Killington Foliage: On the Way to White

With every new color we get a little bit closer to White

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Canoe Camping in the Adirondacks: Little Tupper, Round and Rock

It amazes me that after all our trips to the Adirondacks to go paddling, we still need to check the map for directions on how to get there. Maybe it is because our minds are so focused on wheer we are going, not what we are doing that makes us completely incapable of memorizing some really simple directions.

As the boyfriend drives, I guess I should be figuring out the roads.
But my mind has a tendency to wander.
Like my trail name, Spacey Jane, implies...I tend to zone out when the movements are repetitive. The rhythm of the car, the endless yellow and white lines marking the road...and the flow of life slows down as we reach the waterside.

Soon the tent has been set, dinner has been made...and we can sit by the shore in our wool hats and fleece coats and enjoy the quiet sounds of the wilderness after sunset. In the Adirondacks, that consists of the song of the cicadas, the slapping of a beaver's tail and the belly aching of bull frogs.

Vespi is asleep on my feet, keeping them warm as we expect a frost and I am too stubborn to take off my flip flops and put on my socks.

It is going to be a wonderful night for Canoedeling.

All too soon, the morning sun creeps into the tent and Vespi barely picks up her head as I wake for my morning constitutional.

It's still chilly, but no frost :(

So I take my photos of the morning fog rising from the lake...
and get right back into my sleeping bag to sleep away
a few more hours until our kick ass breakfast:
egg, bacon and avocado sandwiches
(why do you think we bring the cast iron skillet?)

And then we paddled.
And paddled.
And Canoe Carried.
And Paddled Some More.

When we chose to travel across Little Tupper,
I mentally had it as a small quick paddle to the other end.
Instead, it ended up being a four hour trudge into a head wind with one hour meanderings through gorgeous swamplands inbetween.

So we stopped at the infamous Eagle Point for a much deserved hot lunch,
which, although delicious at the time, screwed up my gas allotment for the stove.
This did not bode well for our final meal.

Then we came to the beavers.
A swampy river stream leading into the next pond had
obviously been absconded by a community of beavers.
We spotted at least six different lodges and
struggled crossing several beaver dams.
I will say that it is a very eeiry feeling to stand on a stick structure
that is floating in the water while pulling your loaded canoe over it.

A few times Vespi helped out by jumping out of the canoe.
This proved extremely unsuccesful,
as she only found herself belly deep in a floating plant life.

We arrived at our own private lake
just in time to sit in the middle of it and
watch the sun dip behind the Adirondack Pines
and sip a little whiskey.

The water was glass,
the air just cold enough to put on a light winter hat as we sat,
him in his kayak and I in my canoe.

It was beautiful.
It was peaceful.

It was Nature in her element.

After a warming yoga session on the shores of our island campsite,
I got down to the task of making breakfast.
Except that the decision to eat a warm lunch the day before
meant that we ran out of gas halfway through cooking the apple brannock.
Luckily, the cast iron skill was warm enough
to at least solidify the outsides and warm the middle of mine.

At least we had bacon!!

Eventually, it was time to admit we had reached the end of our adventure.
We paddled back through the beaver dams,
once again across the length of Little Tupper
and loaded up the car for the long drive home.

Our "weekend" of canoedeling had passed.
And we began to start planning our next adventure

Any Suggestions?

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Killington: First Run Down Skye Lark for the Season!!

I don't know about other ski areas, but Killington has this wonderful tradition of mowing the grasses on the more predominant and wide trails. This creates a wonderfully gushy cushion of hay on which the snowmakers can easily blow snow. A true natural base, if you like. The hay bends to cover some of the gnarlier rocks, something greatfully appreciated as we reach the sketchier phases of the season.

But in the fall, the mowing of the trails means only one thing to me:

It's Time to Take some Runs!!

This isn't normal trail running - still a great way to make a pleasurable ascent in the early early mornings - this is ski trail running.

Where you make slalom turns, GS turns, pivot turns...even super G turns when the undersurface isn't too full of potholes (Warning: Upper Bittersweet!!)

Quick Feet
Core Twists
Ankle Edging

Sounds like a PSIA manual.
That is NOT why I ski
(although technique does help...a lot)

But I'm making turns.
Down Skye Lark.
Down Lower Bittersweet.

Checking out the trail work.
the bits and pieces of regrading.
the snowmaking pipes that have been cleaned up.

My ski season has started.

Thank Goodness.

I don't think I could have gone too much longer without feeling the variances of the mountain beneath me.

Yeah, it's not that perfect smoothness,
and technically there is actually so snow or skis.

But the gravitional pull is still pretty strong,
I am going downhill at angles.
I am earning my turns.

You even get to dive into the woods for a few extra cautious turns in the moss covered rocks and fallen branches.

Foot placement becomes wicked important here.
It makes snow-covered tree skiing seem almost...easy

Have you ever gotten your foot stuck amongst down trees up to your knee?
It's a real harsh reminder to look ahead!

Vespi always thinks it's pretty funny though.
And greets me with a big lick across the cheek.

And what is the reward for all this?

Is it that all my hard work will pay off when winter comes?

or is it getting to take in the beauty of the green mountains from places we only see tradtionally in the winter?

perhaps the knowledge gained of the terrain underfoot and exploring the multitude of secret trails that are sprinkled over our mountain?

the quality time with the puppy?

or is it the pure joy of feeling the wind in my hair as I cut turns down the mountain?
The freedom of having an entire mountain to explore,
the thrill of the descent
the playfulness that defines skiing,
snow or not.

I am young.
I am free.
I am skiing.

Well, kind of

May You Find the Spirit of the Mountains Within You

Saturday, September 8, 2012

I love Vermont for her Hills and Valleys

"I love Vermont for her hills and valleys,
her scenery and invigorating climate..."
-Calvin Coolidge, 1928

And for the skiing, of course!!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

A Vermont Staycation: Canoe Camping

As the children head back to school all across the country, those of us who adventure celebrate. The wooded places littered with screaming children all summer return to their natural state of peace and quiet. These schools even manage to return parents back to their offices, furthering the sense of solitude one can get when heading out into the woods after labor day.

And so, we loaded up the boats
(my canoe and his kayak)
and ran away this "weekend" to one of our favorite local haunts
for a Vermont Staycation.

There is, I do believe, nothing finer than feeling the float underneath you after a few months of stress and a removal from your everyday life. Whether it is from frozen powder or liquid water, the feeling of losing yourself, of floating above the earthly ground is a magical feeling. I was overcome yesterday as I stepped out into my canoe and shoved off the rocky shore. A few deep breathes were required before I could even lift my paddle to take those few essential strokes to add the glide.

And - since I am more than slightly obsessessed - all I could think about was how the leaves were changing, the air was getting colder, we were out paddling again, the kids were back in school - my heart rate began to slowly creep up in excitement and anticipation at the realization - we would indeed be skiing next month!
The snow is coming, it is going to be winter so soon...

And then I remembered...
It's only the beginning of September.

There are still loons and ducks on the ponds, no birds have yet flown south for the winter...and I still have lots of winter 2012-2013 gear left to unpack at the shop.

I reminder, if you will, to enjoy the beauty of autumn sunsets and the glowing of early morning sun as it seeps through the canopy onto the foliage leaves.

This is my favorite season.
The one before winter.
The one where ski season is almost here.

And with every sunset, another day passes.

So we set up our tent so that we can wake up to the sunrise,
get out the stove and the Long Trail...
...and sit down to watch the sun descend behind the Green Mountains.

Because it should be beautiful in Vermont this time of year.
If you can find your way in the early morning fog.

May You Find the Spirit of the Mountains Within You

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Ole RamsHead Road at Killington

Another beautifully quiet morning on the mountain
Just me and the dogs, meandering about in whichever direction we may choose.

Today, we ended up summiting RamsHead from the South Side - the Novice's Nightmare: the old RamsHead Road. While in summer it is awash in the glow of early autumn, RamsHead Road might have been the cause for any skier quiting the sport good in the days of the old RamsHead Double. Imagine freezing your butt off for thirty minutes (without stopping) on the way up the lift only to be blown to a frozen and windy hell by coming around the steep hairpin turn down RH Road.

Ah, to be a beginner in the good old days of skiing.
you know, when you really hard to know how to ski in order to ski.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Snowshed Pipe Repair at Killington

One of the delights of my adventures on the mountain is coming around a corner or over a knoll to spy a group of mountain operations guys working on improving something.

Oftentimes, these small improvements get overlooked in comparison with multi-million dollar marketing projects.

But I know their work is appreciated when we no longer have to ski through an ice flow come spring or a particular snowmaking nozzle is now shooting out way better snow - and more of it!!

These are little things,
but the skiers notice.

Thanks, Guys!!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Happy September - We'll be Skiing Next Month!!

As the calendar turns the page today, we take note of the fact that next month - October - marks the beginning of the ski season here in Vermont.

And with that comes wonderful memories of the season which went before,
the innaugaral season for Puppy Coopie and many others who were introduced to the sport for the first time.

May they enjoy the joy and excitement of their first Autumn as skiers