Natural Snow, Skiing and Freedom
Pow Grins rule the day as Natural Snow Returns to the Vermont Woods!
Last ski season in Vermont, our world revolved around the placement of snowguns and the financial budget of our resorts. Lap after lap, we were trapped on trails whose foundations had been built and rebuilt. We watched, Wednesday after Wednesday, as the cold New England rain washed away the hard work of our snowmaking team. The resort was painted white for winter as the surrounding mountains rolled away in their greyish-green of a not so-cold sadness. In between the trails, you could still see the pine needles that lay on the ground, marking the woods as forbidden and dangerous territory.
We were trapped. Trapped on ski trails that were firm as fuck, marked with thousands of stupid death cookies and the yellow of frozen groomer tracks. Even ski racers, with their super sharp edges and course set variations were frustrated by the feeling on entrapment. There was no where else to go. Up and down, the same trails that we have skied over and over again. The only variety coming from our minds, making up songs and perhaps skiing the left side of the trail this time. In Vermont, after the third day in a row of skiing in the pouring rain, we learn to bring our own love of skiing to the mountains.
It was all we had.
This season, however, has brought hope back to the millions of people who ski in Vermont. With the snow-making success of the World Cup at Killington over Thanksgiving Weekend, skiers have chosen to once again believe that a snowy winter is indeed possible in our little state.
And this past week has proved our faith.
Killington is claiming 52" of snowfall for the 2016-2017 ski season so far - a whopping 65% of last year's total and we haven't even had Christmas yet! In ski bum terms? It means that we are finally - after what feels like forever - back to adventures in the woods!
Oh my trees, my beautiful snow covered trees, I cannot describe how much I have missed you and the joy of once again wandering through your covered branches has brought me. Look at these evergreens - covered in a beautiful marshmellow white that turns a grey day into a miraculous one. To be surrounded by these majesties of nature, to have the snow brush off a branch and down the back of my neck, is a return to joy rather than a burden. Screw the damn powder skirt - I want to FEEL the snow, to shudder as it melts against my warm skin, to be reminded that winter is truly here this year.
Winter is here, and with it a sense of freedom that only a blanket of white can provide. There is no need to stay within the confines of highways of the well-engineered trail system. Non-snowmaking trails are filled with the beautiful soft snow where you can freely bounce from pile to pile, rather than gingerly picking your way around a frozen clump. My skis, thrown side to side without care, leave the ground because I know the snow will catch me. Damn it, we skied powder again this week!
To quote my favorite ski song,
To quote my favorite ski song,
"My skis are the things,
that give me my wings
and make me an eagle on high."
- In This White World, Bob Gibson
This winter, ... this winter is going to be different. I have already earned more early season turns on real snow than I did all last season. My legs are still shaking from the excitement of the past few days, diving off the groomed piste in search of greatness - and then laughing full-bellied when I actually find it. In some moments, I just cannot believe that natural snow has returned. I just can't get enough. My body aches to have my skis on every minute, not wanting to waste a single hour of the day not exploring the natural snow that fills the woods right now.
And so we shall ski, and skin and ski some more. I will be excited to brush inches of snow off my car while I stand deep in snow. I am pumped to wake up with the dawn and wander around in the woods while ascending a snow covered peak. I will choke on cold smoke and feel the snow melt in the small of my back. Everything is going to be wonderful this season, I can just feel it.
"Vermont must be beautiful this time of year,
all that snow."
-Danny Kaye, Irving Berlin's White Christmas
After waiting for two years, a truly white winter has finally returned to Vermont.
May You Find the Spirit of the Mountains Within You,