Monday, January 21, 2013

BackYard Backcountry: A Much Needed Escape into the Killington Woods

The town has been crawling with people.
Skiers & Snowboarders have been flocking to Killington,
eager to enjoy the amazingly favorable weather we've been having.

Don't get me wrong.
We've been enjoying it, too.
And the business that comes with.
But sometimes, you need a break.

To pull back from the craziness of life on the Access Road.
A Return to the Simpler things in Life.
A Return to Nature.
A Rejuvination.

So one night after work at the shop,
we packed up the sled,
Strapped on our snowshoes...
and headed out the back door.

And found ourselves deep in the
Calvin Coolidge State Forest

As the suns set,
we flicked on our headlamps
and enjoyed what has horrified so many off the backside lately:
the Vermont woods at night

The air is so still,
the forest so silent.
We saw footprints, but would hear and see no animals.
All we could hear was the light floof of our snowshoes in the fresh snow.

The ridgeline,
normally so visible in the daylight hours
quickly vanished.
We were forced to rely
on our map skills and memories
to find our way to our destination.

But it was wonderful.
Except for the sled dragging behind me.
Especially maneuvering around tight trees
over few brooks and streams
and then pulling the damn thing uphill.

But one day I will learn patience.
I hope.

Just as Vespi's tummy startd grumbling we arrived at our destination.
The summit of some random mountain in the middle of the forest.
Just a slight upslope, quite unremarkable save for the increased density of pine trees.
There were no blazes, no markers -
Just an old ragu jar, hanging from a tree.

So we signed in our names in the little spiral notebook that had been stuffed in the jar,
noticing that no one had been here since July.

And that it was a lot warmer then.

The next hour is spent focusing on the necessities of life.
And fast.
before our internal body temperatures begin to match that of the outside.

But soon we are nestled in our down jackets and sleeping bags,
snuggling close so that i can return
some dexterity to my fingers
before lighting the stove.

I rub them,
i blow on them,
and stick them under my long johns to absorb some of the heat from my core.
And soon I am ready to touch the metal
and try not to set fire to the tent
while I prime the stove.

Eventually, the water boils
and our dinner of rice pasta, pesto & sausage
disintigrates into a gooey mess.
Definintely not how i had imagined it
while I was packing
but cheesey and warm just the same.

it goes Perfect with the hot toddy
that I carried in my thermos
And I sink further and further
down into my sleeping bag

We can hear the wind rustling through the tree tops
as we read our books to the light of headlamps
And nothing in the world matters
...except staying warm

We rise with the light of the sun
shining mellowly through the tent walls
Degrees in the tent.
Not too bad, considering :)

I shudder about sliding
into my snowboots probably frozen
waiting for me in the vestibule.

The thought of hot banana waffles
when we arrive home
eventually pulls me from my bag
as does the call of nature

We wandeer through the woods
for a few more hours
Back to the real world,
to the Access Road
and the roar of snowguns
Back to heated homes
and wonderfully warm showers.

Then we grab our skis
and head out to the mountain.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Struggle for Seventy: Pushing through the Holiday Season at Killington

I will be the first to admit it.
I am exhausted.

On January 2nd, I hit 60 days for the season.
It is now January 13th and i am still struggling to hit seventy days.
The alarm clock beeps at 5:45am and I groan.

Taking a deep breathe in, i let the memories of the previous day overtake me.
Eight hours of work in the shop.
followed immediately by 6 hours behind the bar.

Do I really want to go skiing today?

Another Deep Breathe...
Because I cannot believe that thought has even crossed my mind.

But the thought has.
and I can't shake it.

I begin to wonder if I
even have the energy
to stand up for yet another
14 hour work day.

After spending 90 minutes
skinning up the mountain.

I take another deep breathe,
a tear rolls down my face.

And I succomb to my exhaustion.

And so I work.
All Day.
and then
All Night.

I smile as I talk about how awesome the skiing,
because I know it must have been.
I can look outside my window and imagine
how glorious the snow must be as it bakes in the sunshine.
I scroll through and see
the smiling faces of my friends
as they celebrate the January Thaw
with run after run of bumps made from soft, corn snow.

I take a deep breathe.

And I hear my boss calling my name.

I turn around,
thinking that I must have
faded away
into a

Feeling the snow,
gliding under my skis.
I am floating,

"Oh, wait,
Sorry, D.
What did you want?"

"It is gorgeous outside.
Why don't you grab Vespi and go out for a skate ski?"

I jump up from behind the counter,
breaking away from the computer screen.

I am out of the shop in less than five minutes.

And so I get in my seventieth day on skis for this winter.


May You Find the Spirit of the Mountains Within You.

(and thanks so much, Diane, Mike and the staff at Base Camp Outfitters for letting me get in a few very much needed laps on Orange!!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Internal Powday Clock: A Ski Bum Connection with the Snow

It's 9:30 at night.
I have no trouble passing out.
Thanks to my bedtime glass of Whistlepig and the constant pre-dawn wake-up calls, my eyes close pretty much as soon as my head hits the pillow.
I move my legs so that they curl around the eleven-year old golden retreiver snuggled on top of the comforter at the bottom of the bed.
I begin to dream the skier's dream.

What feels like a full night later, I roll over and my eyes are as wide as little buttons.
I check the time on my phone.
It's bright techno blueish light blinds me like Spock checking his machines.
I blink as I make out the time.

My curtains are closed and the room is pitch black
except for the trippy little night light
that we put on so that I don't trip over my pile of long johns
scattered halfhazardly all over the floor on my side of the bed.

I can still hear
the classical music
playing lightly in the background
that we set to a 120 minute timer.

I sigh in frustration and make sure that I'm not smushing anybody's arm or tail.
Closing my eyes, I hope that this time I will sleep until the buzzer.

It's around 2 o'clock the next time I roll over.
I can feel the tears start to well up in my eyes.
How am I gonna have any energy to skin up in the morning
if I cannot manage to get beyond a single REM cycle?
I look down at my feet
to see Vespi sleeping peacefully with her head between her paws.
I can feel the boyfriend breathing rhythmically beside me.
Why can't I sleep?
The frustration begins to eat at me from the inside,
I roll over and somehow I pass out once again.

While most people believe that being a ski bum involves hours on snow alternated with time spent washing dishes at the local pub, there is so much more than that.

There is something in the blood,
something as intrinsic as life itself,
where the spirit of winter meshes with my internal being.

A Ski Bum doesn't need
to look out the window
to know
that it is snowing on the other side.

We can feel the stillness,
that wintery calm,
that overtakes the world as the flakes fall silently to the ground.

Or the snowflakes that blast against the side of the window.
We feel those, too

For some reason I cannot explain,
My body knows when it is snowing.

My internal powday clock wakes me up,
And I go skiing.

It is as simple as that.

May You Find the Spirit of the Mountains Within You,