A Tale of Two Killingtons or A Powder Day in March

Most everyone knows One Killington.
We experience it every day,
the rush for first cabin in the morning,
the dodge ball scene in the afternoon,
and the infamous tailgate parties that fill bay after bay.

As the sun comes,
so does the red bull type behavior,
from seeing how few turns it takes to fly down Superstar
to throwing random 7's off the Bittersweet headwall
From top to bottom runs down Low Rider through the bumped up woods,
to fist pumping at the Pickle until someone gets fist pumped in the face
everyone has a One Killington.
and it is awesome.

But there is another Killington.
One where you can hear a ski drop and lose it softly in the snow.
One where there is no race for the powder,
but a peaceful enjoyment of the fluff underneath your feet.
It is the quiet Killington.
The one that barely anybody knows.
No one except the groomers,
the snowmakers...
and the skinners.

Our alarms go off around 5:45 to 6:15 in the morning
depending on how far from the mountain we live.
Slowly but surely, the cars pull into the parking lot.
Some mornings there might be one or two,
while on full moons there can be a whole full row.
The scene might look similar to most,
just skiers unloading gear from their cars,
the sound of boot buckles clicking.
But then there are backpacks,
and headlamps...
and skis that are put on at the rear of the car.

It is pitch black as the skiers make their way up the hill,
single file,
we stick to the side of the trail,
just along the edge close to the treeline.
Headlamps rock back and forth.
it looks like a line of zombies coming out of the darkness.
There is some small chatter as we begin our journey,
but it quickly recedes as the pace settles in
Shoooooo, Shoooooo
Shooooo, Shooooo
the skis slide across the freshly falling snow with each stride,
and a single track is left,
with pole marks on either side.
This is the Skin Track.

like ants on a hill,
the group meanders up the mountain
without talking
everyone seems to know
where we are going.
An understanding about where the good snow will be this morning
And the fact that there will be enough for all of us.
There is no race,
but instead a mutual journey,
an experience shared among friend
the exact opposite of no friends of a powder day.
Here, we need friends.
To share the joy
to share the adventure
but also to help share the rescue
because we are alone.

Out here in the darkness of the morning,
there is no patrol to rescue us at a moment's notice.
Out here there is only miles and miles of untouched powder,
quietly awaiting those brave
- and perhaps slightly insane -
enough to make the uphill trek to earn it.

A snowshoe hare passes us,
for we are just animals in the woods,
no headphones blaring music,
or screaming teenage boys.

Just humans skinning silently through nature's snow covered glory.

We push still further onward,
the increase in elevation brings with it an increase in the wind
and the snow begins to drive down our throats,
making breathing increasingly difficult
as we round the final turns to the summit.

But we know it is there.
We turns our heads to the side
or pull our chins down
to try and catch some air at our own speed.

And still we push onward,
willing ourselves with the notion that
no one
no one
no one
will have skied what we will be skiing.
Open fields of snow,
our own private bowls of snow.
And we wonder:

How deep will it be this morning?

Arriving at our destination,
we are all quick to open our backpacks
pulling out the big down puffy jackets
that will secure all the well-earned warmth that we created on the way up.
before it is lost.
and our sweat freezes,
and we freeze.
and that would definitely suck.

But we are quick.
Softshells become puffies.
Hats become helmets.
thin touring gloves become mittens.
Skins are stripped off.
Alpine Touring Bindings get locked into position
Boits are clicked from tour mode into ski mode.
Goggles are pulled down...
and it is time to ski :)

And Ski...

it is the glory of groomies,
where we can cut fresh gooves into perfect lines.
Other times it is binding deep blower,
with just enough fluff to make it all worth while.

But this morning,
this morning it is hitting right below the knee.
every turn.
It is gorgeous.
It is sexy.
It is...perfect.

Knee Deep Powder on the Eighth of March?
Thank You!!

Hmmm, do we have enough time...
Maybe one more skin before the lifts open?
We've got an hour.

Then the other Killington takes over.
And ours is lost to the night.

But we'll be right back after breakfast.
Cause there are chairs to be ridden,
and gondolas to pack.
Friends to laugh with and avoid in the trees,
high speed turns to make,
and way, way more powder to shred.

And I hear the sun comes out ;)

And who would want to miss that?

May You Find the Spirit of the Mountains Within You.