Hike-O Pico: Let the April Adventures Begin!!

Ahhh, the joy of pulling into a completely empty parking lot of a ski resort on a 45 degree bluebird day in April. The lifts are not turning, the base lodge stands empty save for a few members of the cleaning crew putting the finishing touches on the season.
But we are here.
With our skins and our backpacks and our dogs.

And our 85 SPF.

The sky is a glorious deep blue, but the trees are still covered in ice from the Sunday's nasty storm. But with the sun beating down on them, they glitter and seem to be covered with cherry blossom buds. Like some kinda of Japanese Garden got teleported to Pico for the day and we had the privilege of skinning through this fantasy.

It was perfect. Drops of rain like water would fall as the wind gently blew through the treetops. Perfect - except for when the wind would blow and knock the bigger chunks of ice off of the trees. Ouch. Falling ice chinks can really hurt :( and also make for a very odd texture on which to skin up. Coopie didn't mind so much - for him it was like if the ice machine from the fridge had gone haywire and just coved the ground with crunchy edible awesomeness. Even Vespi seemed unpeturbed by the flying snacks randomly attacking us. Whatever, we just moved into the sunshine and skinned there instead.

Hmmm, and when I say "we," I mean my old friend, Allison, from my RamsHead ski school days, who is now a writer with Ski the East and boot-fitter/ski fashionista at the SkiRack in Burlington, VT. A kick ass ski industry girl who was born & raised in Killington. She hadn't skied Pico since she was like 4 or something, so what better time to recheck out one of the oldest and best ski resorts in Vermont than with a little private mountain earned turn action :)
ski bums get to be soooo spoiled...

Something that Coopie Poopie Head is just starting to learn. At Hike-O Pico, Coop gets to run free, to sniff everywhere, and enjoy playing with his humans in the snow. At 2 years old, he is just starting to learn to pace himself...even if it takes him an hour to realize that we are going to be out for quite a bit longer than he originally anticipated. Vespi, however, sees the skins and the backpack, takes one look up the mountain and knows. She falls right in behind me, placing herself right along the skin track while Coopie runs this way and that...
with the joy and freedom of one who just LOVES skiing!!

But Vespi loves it, too, even if half her face looks like it is falling off. She laughs at me as I slip on an ice chunky section and scrape my left fore-arm. Trying to snuggle me, she gets knocked down the mountain by a slightly over-zealous Coopie Poopie Head and ends up turtled on her back. Needless to say, she made sure to give Coop a large space cushion for the rest of the skin.

So, we're cruising along, throwing around reminisces from our ski school days and laughing at Coop, when my old and moldy skin slips out from underneath me again. It's all frozen balls and my skins are not coopperating. Neither are Alison's brand new ones. But the snow seems to be soft for the duration of this pitch and we are nothing if not stubborn women. So we hiked up the remainder of the pitch - nothing is as fun as taking off your skis facing up a steep hill. It's silly and something that can only be done with skins. But even at 3:30pm, the upper mountain still had not quite unfrozen so we skinned over to the Hershey Highway for the view and a safety meeting instead :)

But the view is not why we came.
It is not why we hiked up this damn infernal mountain.
It is not why I was sweating so much that the dogs though I was a lick stick.

We through on our puffies with glee, because we knew what was coming.
We had seen it on the way up.

I don't like to eat cream cheese, but sure as hell love to ski it.
Especially since the top of Pico hadn't been skied since Saturday afternoon.
Groomed for Sunday and then just sitting there, being sexy,
Waiting for us to smear some sexy turns into her sunbaked goodness.

Yeah, Coop was ready!

And even though Vespi had trouble deciding whether to take skier's left or right...

...she certainly had no problem finding her corn snow grin as soon as she got started Her puppy grin matched perfectly with my little girl giggles :)

If you have never skied untracked cream cheese,
or had an entire mountain to yourself...

Find your best ski buddy and a nice spring day,
A backpack and some skins
...and be prepared for one of the best times you will ever have skiing!!

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