Okemo Opener

A too hectic life of late has kept me from getting onto the slopes. Yeah, there was a day or two I could have made my way north, but the thought of first day out being in -10 degree conditions was less than appealing. If I were already there on a multi-day trip I would certainly hit the mountain. But purposefully drive 3+ hours for that kind of exposure? Not so much.

But I got to Okemo just this past Wednesday. It was one of those wonderful days of sun, zero wind except for a zephyr breeze on the summit, and temperatures in the low to mid-20s to start the day. Ideal is the word that comes to mind.

Conditions were good. The snow was firm, frozen granular corduroy from top to bottom to start the day. As the morning progressed the snow softened at the bottom, progressing upwards as the minutes ticked past. By my last run—about noonish—things were still firm up top, but getting pretty soft back at base.

There were a number of trails that were open, but not groomed and with not much cover. It was obvious no snow-making had taken place on those trails. And maybe won’t this season. The year got off to a very warm, snowless start, and I can imagine that choices had to made in laying down man-made snow when conditions allowed that to happen. Regardless, there was enough terrain open to keep me pretty happy.

My one regret was not making my way to the Jackson Gore area. Only one trail top-to-bottom had been open over there since Day 1 and while I like that one trail just fine, it wasn’t worth the run over there for just that. But as I was leaving I heard that ski patrol had opened several other trails mid-morning. Oh well, next time.

Last season I only got out a couple times. I was pretty hesitant about how this aging body would respond. But I was pleasantly pleased that I skied without break for 3 hours before the quads started really complaining and the legs feeling shaky enough to let me know it was time to quit.

All in all, a very worthwhile trip. It was wonderful to sit on a ski lift once again, and chat with happy, smiling people sharing tips about where they had been and what trails they liked. It was great to hear whoops of joy coming from a trail behind the trees, and to hear the clicking and scratching of skis running over frozen surfaces once again. Everything else just melts away as the serenity of the slopes creeps in and pushes a big smile onto faces.

While sad not to see 100% terrain open, given what ski resorts have had to deal with this season, I was impressed. It was weird to leave Westerly area with snow piled high on the sides of the road, and to get into central Massachusetts and lower Vermont and have almost no snow on the sides of the roads. Hopefully the storm heading this way today and into tomorrow will leave the northern tier of New England under a heavy blanket of white, fluffy stuff.

I was using some new gear this first trip out, and I’ll tell you about in coming posts. Hopefully I get north again in the coming week. Maybe see you out there. If not, be safe. And get out there and enjoy the snow.

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