Finding My Mojo At Stratton

Stratton was my skiing destination on Wednesday. I needed some slope time.

Conditions were great. Fast and firm on most trails, with some a bit softer where there had no doubt been some man-made snow mixed into the corduroy stripes. The ungroomed trails, from my view of them as I rode the chairlift, were lumps of hard snow with troughs of ice in between. I didn’t venture into the ungroomed territory.

I was a bit hesitant about going because it’s a holiday week with lots of schools being on winter break. But it sure didn’t look like a holiday week. There were 4 cars at the Sun Bowl when I pulled in shortly before 8:00 AM. It was about 3 degrees when I arrived. But without a whisper of wind to be felt, the temp was quite bearable.

For the first few hours there were very few skiers or riders out and about. A number of trails were closed, or partially closed, for various free-style and race training events. So there were lots of school kids on the slopes, but they were all clustered in those areas where the training sessions were being held. That left more than enough mountain to play on.

I’m heading off on an annual trip to Killington with my daughter Allison in a couple of weeks. We hit the slopes long and hard, with numerous unofficial challenges to see who gets top-to-bottom first. Each year the challenge, for me at least, gets tougher and tougher. Last year was the first year she beat me down the hill. Not by much, but a clear and clean, unofficial win.

No Confidence & Self-Doubt

As I have said, I needed some slope time. For some reason, and I don’t know why, I have been struggling to ski well this season. Actually that’s not true. The struggle part is true, but not that I don’t know why. I just lost confidence in myself, creating huge self-doubt. That’s the “I don’t know why” part.

I ended last season skiing a pair of Blizzard Quattro RS race skis, skiing stronger, faster, and more confidently than ever that I can remember. What happened between now and then to shake my confidence to the point it toppled over and shattered? Like I said, I don’t know. But it happened.

So there I was at Stratton. I took a first run down Black Bear, caught an edge and almost fell. Next run I ducked under the gondola and went over to the broad, gentle “meadows” trails for beginners. Caught an edge and almost fell. I wondered if I should head home before I got hurt.

I took a quick break in the lodge and had a hot chocolate. This whole thing was idiotic. The problem was in my head, and only my head, and the question was how do I get it out of my head? I could not stomach the thought of an oh-so-disappointing trip to Killington where I would be afraid to ski. There had to be some way to unknot that part of my brain saying “can’t do this.”

I decided I would go back to the summit and ski my most favorite, and least favorite, single trail at Stratton. How can a single trail be both most, and least, favorite simultaneously you ask? And just what trail at Stratton might that be? That trail would be Kidderbrook.

Upper Kidderbrook is big and wide with a few nice steep sections where you can ski a real “fall line” because the trail is basically straight up-and-down. Lower Kidderbrook is a narrow, twisty-turny, not very steep section of trail taking you back to the chairlift. Right at the end, just when you think it’s over, you have to scale a small hill to get up to the lift.

It’s my favorite trail because of the exhilarating plunge down the upper portion. My least favorite because you have to wind your way along the long, slow runout back to the lift, then scale a hill to actually get to it. Fun on the upper. Fun-sucking on the lower. Technically it’s two trails, but functionally it’s one. If you ski the upper, you must ski the lower.

Confidence Building

Why Kidderbrook? It’s a confidence builder. Kidderbrook is the trail I have brought daughters, nieces, and friends onto as they progress from beginner to confident, advancing intermediate. I take them when I see that their skills are good enough, but they are convinced they just aren’t ready ski or ride a black diamond, expert trail.

I hustle them past the trailhead sign which clearly says “Experts Only” and shows a black diamond (or two) in front of every trail name. The trail starts easy. On the first plunge, the width of the trail makes it seem more manageable somehow. No woods or twists and turns to worry about on the steep plunge down. And then, at the bottom of the second drop off, you stop and have them look back up the hill.

From that vantage, Kidderbrook looks as steep and challenging as it actually is. All I say, as they gaze back up the hill in awe is, “That’s a black diamond, and you just came down it.” They then realize they just slid down a really steep, expert, black diamond trail and didn’t die! The newly found “expert” basks in that great feeling all the way back to the lift and says. “Let’s do that again!” I of course say, “Let’s find another black diamond to master.”

That’s why I was sliding over the snow at the start of Upper Kidderbrook trail at Stratton. For some reason, and I don’t know why, even before I hit the first headwall on Upper Kidderbrook, I felt that focus come back into my head. The thick, nasty miasma rooted in my skull thinned like morning fog over water as a gentle breeze begins to blow. And the body responded. The skis tipped into the snow, the edges bit deep, and we carved our way down the fall line. Confidently.

I went back to the summit and skied down Tamarack. Then down Upper Standard. And then anywhere and everywhere, that was groomed. The skis responded as they should. As I knew they could, as I knew they would.

I don’t know how the fog of “no-confidence and self-doubt” got into my head, but I hope it doesn’t come back. It’s so very frustrating a thing to feel like you can’t do something that you darn well know you can. The nasty no-confidence, self-doubt thinking creates a self-fulfilling, self-feeding cycle of doubt that takes solid root and blossoms.

Fortunately, there’s Kidderbrook, confidence builder. I got my mojo back and working. Now I can look forward to Killington, knowing that I can at least keep Allison in sight as she rips down the slopes in front of me. If she is in front of me that is.

AlanD

Lovin’ Loon

Went to bed Tuesday night and it was snowing hard. Woke up Wednesday morning to 5 or 6-inches of fresh white stuff on the ground. Fortunately, the bed was in Lincoln, NH. About 2 miles away from the lifts at Loon Mountain. I had the feeling it was going to be a pretty good day.

Temperature in the morning was about 30 degrees. By the end of the first two runs I had every zipper unzipped that could be unzipped. Well, almost every. We didn’t want to get too risqué on the slopes.

The conditions the day before were great, and the addition of fresh snow made things just perfect. The mountain ops team left a few trails ungroomed. Most trails however, had a nice mix of options. Groomed corduroy was striped down one-half to two-thirds the width of the trail, the remainder was ungroomed. So you could play on either surface. Or both if you wanted to dash in and out along their intersection. I thought that was a really nice touch.

A group of “ski testers” from Avie’s were at Loon, testing skis. And then of course there was Matt, the lone “snowboard tester.” But he wasn’t complaining. In fact, he had a huge grin on his face every single time we crossed paths on the slopes.

On Tuesday, later in the afternoon, I clicked my boots into a pair of new for next year Nordica Soul Rider 87 twin tips. I stayed on those skis for the rest of the day. They were amazing skis. Light, fun, turny, lots of “pop.” Just plain old big time fun.

The Soul Rider 87s took me down the edges of the trails. As it often does late in the day, the edges of the trails are where the snow has piled up. The Soul Rider 87s had me doing super twisty-turny-tight cuts and carves. It was a blast. I couldn’t believe how playful the Soul Rider twins were.

At the same time though, they were serious skis. When we went out to the center part of the trail, onto the ice and crust that was scraped clean of snow, I expected them to slide and chatter their way across. But they didn’t. The edges bit in and held in carves across the ice. Wow!

The down side of all those tight, twisty-turny carves was a black toenail at days end. It was painful to get my foot into my ski boots the next morning. Very painful. But, we were at “Demo Days” where all the manufacturers are there with gear to try. So I left my boots in the car and went to Dalbello to try out the newly redesigned Panterra ski boots. They had the Panterra 120 in my size, so I slipped into a pair.

Demo Days dealer tents at Loon Mountain.

The first thing I noticed was that the boots were significantly lighter than previous models. And I do mean significantly lighter. Like maybe a third lighter. Another unique feature of the redesign is that the new Panterra has an adjustable last from 100 to 102 mm. Last is the width of the boot, if you forgot. I liked that adjustable width feature a lot.

My Dalbello Krypton 130s are a 98 mm last, so the Panterra boots gave my hurting left toe a bit more room. And because they are adjustable width, I let that toe box be a bit wider than the right foot, which I snugged up more tightly. The result were boots that I could ski in without being tormented by the injured toe.

And the Panterra 120 boots were very nice to ski. They sport a 4-buckle cabrio design, so there is a nice progressive range of flex and response to the skis. That was particularly nice when jumping back and forth between the groomed and ungroomed parts of the ski runs. Back off a bit in the powder, and drive into the boots harder on the groomers. They worked really well and I give them a big “thumbs up.”

Panterra 120 also comes with the new GripWalk system. This was my first experience with GripWalk on the slopes. Yes, they do make walking in ski boots more natural, and the grippy soles were actually quite nice outside on the snow covered walkways. In fact, they were nice inside as well. The grippy soles never once felt slippery on wet concrete or tiles. They were a bit harder to clip into the ski bindings. But the ski tech at Nordica (yes, I clicked into Soul Rider 87 again—I couldn’t resist, they were too much fun) said that would vary with the fit of boot to binding, and that once the GripWalk pads broke in a bit more, they would slide in more easily. So I would give GripWalk a “thumbs up” as well.

The really big news, for right now however, is not about gear for next season.

The BIG NEWS is that with the new snowfall up north conditions are really, really good. Bordering on great.

Temps look to stay on the cold side up north, which will hold the snow. And it looks like they may get a few small-scale snow events. Just enough to keep things topped off. Just enough to keep the groomers consisting of beautiful packed-powder corduroy stripes.

So get out and ski. Get out and ride. Go this weekend. There is still some room on the Avie’s Ski & Ride trip headed to Okemo in Vermont this Sunday, February 17th.

If you can—and I highly endorse this—break away on a weekday. Avie’s has a trip to Loon Mountain slated for Wednesday February 20th. I can tell you, first hand, conditions are pretty sweet up there in Lincoln, NH right now.

Don’t think about going on one of the Avie’s Ski & Ride trips. Just go.

AlanD

Loon With Lunatics

I am up here at Loon in New Hampshire. The slopes were amazing. Groomed loose granular and packed powder were the snow du jour. Temps started in single digits then topped out in the low 20s to make for a nice day overall. Crowds were thin. No lift lines.

Most of my trips north to play in the snow take place in Vermont, mainly because from the Westerly area the traffic is easier to navigate through Hartford and Springfield than through Providence and then Boston. But today, and tomorrow, are a different kind of ski trip for me. It’s one I look forward to each year—Demo Days.

Loon is hosting the eastern session of “Demo Days” as we call it at Avie’s Ski / Sports. Demo Days are when all the major ski and snowboard makers take prototypes of their gear for the next season—in this case the 2019/2020 season—and make it available for retailers to try.

So there is a crew from Avie’s up here testing out all the skis and snowboards that you will get to see next season in the shop. Matt, Ray, John, Norm, myself and Ted are all here spending the day testing out gear. It’s the best way for Ted to find out what would be best to have for sale in the shop next season. And to put it mildly, a pretty fun time for all of us “ski testers.” So when you hear mention of ski testers in future posts, this will be the crew in reference.

I’m not going to get into what skis or snowboards were great, and what’s new and what’s not. That will come later this fall as we ramp up into the new season of snow. What I will say is that we continue to see some interesting, and smart in my opinion, trends in boots becoming more performance oriented at wider foot widths. And there is a trend in skis that continues towards a greater separation of carving skis and everything else.

Both are interesting and good trends. They are good because they will give skiers greater opportunity to dial in the best set of sticks for the kind of skiing they do. Good because skiers with wider feet will be able to get into ski boots that perform better. All good things. Snowboarders will have to await a download from Matt, our sole snowboarder.

The biggest news, and the best news, is that ski conditions are really good up north here. While there were some icy patches on narrow trails late in the day, by and large snow conditions were good to great to fantastic.

And they are going to get more fantastic. Right now it is snowing up here at Loon. Snowing hard. And the snow is supposed to continue through the night and into tomorrow. When done, there should be close to another foot of fresh white stuff gracing the slopes we slid down today.

Yes, tomorrow will definitely be a powder day. We all will grab a pair of fat powder skis and go for a few “yeehaw” laps down the trails. Granted that won’t give Ted lots of great input for what skis or snowboards to carry next season. But that’s what he gets for taking a bunch of snow junkie lunatics to Loon when it’s going to snow.

Now is the time to get out and hit the slopes. Go this weekend. You may wander into some of the best conditions to be found this year, so far. Get to Avie’s and get on the bus trip to Okemo this Sunday. There are still seats available.

Tomorrow the pictures I take at Loon will be rather different than the one shown here, of Norm, contemplating a final run of the day. It will be a snow day. A powder day. Another Demo Day. Absolutely a great day spent at a great mountain, in great snow, with absolutely great people.

It doesn’t get much better than that.

AlanD

Stratton Spectacular

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

4:15 AM—I check the weather first thing out of bed. High in the teens with dropping temps throughout the day. Windy—gusts to 50 mph. Cloudy. Snow flurries, possibly heavy, in the afternoon. My logical half says, “Go back to bed.” My skier half says, “Go skiing.”

5:25 AM—I just crossed the Gold Star bridge and realized I left the Nordica skis home, taking only the Volkl’s. Too far to go back, so I stay pointed northbound.

6:10 AM—I feel the car slipping a bit on black ice on Rte 2 in Glastonbury, CT. Not enough to scare me, but enough to wake me up quickly.

7:30 AM—VT 30 is partially snow covered, but in good shape. The temp is 10 degrees F.

8:20 AM—The parking lot of the Snow Bowl at Stratton has 6 cars parked in it. Are they not open? The Sunrise Express lift is spinning. Therefore the Sun Bowl must be open. I park and grab my gear.

8:25 AM—I rest my skis against the rack outside the lodge and look up the mountain before heading in to suit up. There is one lone ski track sinuously snaking down the face of Sunriser Supertrail. It’s a perfect serpentine “s” in a perfectly smooth coating of powder. I should have taken a picture, but all I could think about was getting onto that lovely snow.

8:45 AM—I’m riding the Sunrise Express lift out of the Sun Bowl staring at the lone track in the powder. Wind is quickly filling it in at higher elevations. “Snow Devils” are whirling about. I see only 2 other people on a chair way up the line of empty chairs in front of me.

9:15 AM—My first “face shot” of the day. No, the powder wasn’t that deep. The slopes came up to greet my face. Also known as a “face plant.” The Volkls think it’s funny to dive deep into the powder.

Stratton received about 6-inches or so of snowfall over night Tuesday. Groomers went out early, letting the fresh snow lay down like a blanket over the corduroy. Some novice terrain was groomed just before opening. On those portions of the summit that are severely windblown, you could see some “glacier ice” peeking though—evidence of the nasty rainfall last Thursday.

Skiing early on was in fresh powder underlaid with a firm base of mixed granular and packed powder. My Volkl RTM 84′s are not the best in powder. The Nordica NRGy 90s were right there by the door. Don’t know how I could have missed them. And I did miss them.

A Really Good “Bad” Day

Based on weather predictions, it should have been extremely cold and extremely windy. It should have been cloudy with snow flurries. Yes it was cold—13 degrees F when I left Stratton that afternoon. It was windy. At least early on. Then about 10:30ish the wind just laid down for several hours. It was breezy. Not windy.

Clouds? There were a few puffy clouds early on, as you can see in the first photo of this post. But by 9:30 AM the sky was such a brilliant, clear blue that you couldn’t help but just feel that all was right in the world.

The slopes were graced with a lovely coat of fresh white powder. Whoops of joy drifted out of the woods, and from the trails hidden from sight behind the trees. Beautiful, arcing curves laced their way down the face of the slopes.

As the wind laid down, it was cold, but spectacular. It was one of those winter days that, despite the cold, you just had to feel happy. It was impossible to not be at peace. You just had to smile. Brightly. It was impossible not to breath deep of the cold, sparkling air. And smile. Again.

A Lonely Mountain

So, the weather predicted was a far cry from the weather received. And equally as wrong, was the expectation of mobs of “powder-hounds,” thick as black flies in spring. See the image below. It was taken about 11:15 AM at the main base lodge at Stratton. Do you even see a person?

Stratton Main Base—eerily deserted.

Obviously there were people on the mountain. But it was incredible how so very few there were. On one trip up the Ursa lift to the summit, there was not one person at the lift to get on but me, and I could see maybe a half dozen people on the lift up in front of me. Even the gondola had no line. Just a small cluster of people waiting to board the next car on the line.

I guess folks took to heart the weather predictions. They stayed in bed. Had breakfast. Maybe even went to work, heaven forbid. Doubts crept into my head the evening prior. I kept wondering if it would be worth the drive time to get there and be froze half to death, with the other half getting blown off the summit.

On my way home I stopped by to see Greg at Meulemans’ Craft Draughts in Rawsonville, a couple miles south of the Stratton access road on VT 30—a “must stop at” place if you are into craft beer, cider, or Vermont cheeses and wine. Greg confirmed that the locals “stayed in.” He and his wife Pat were out skiing in the morning and noticed that most of the “regulars” were nowhere to be found.

Needless to say, it was a great day at Stratton. Spectacular actually. The hills up north have been refreshed with a nice blanket of snow. All that carved up powder will be recycled into groomers for days to come. And conditions will stay good right into the weekend. The “polar vortex” is going somewhere else, so temps will moderate, making things a bit more tolerable.

Might not be a bad weekend to head north to ski and ride. Consider the Avie’s Ski / Sports trip running to Mount Snow on Sunday. But don’t delay. Sign up by end of today to ensure a seat.

Breath deep. Smile. Get out and enjoy the snow.

AlanD

More Snow for Mount Snow

Clouds are scudding into Vermont from upstate New York. Pretty, fluffy, white flakes are trickling down from them. By the time dawn approaches tomorrow there will be another 8 to 10-inches of fluffy white powder gracing ski slopes in Vermont.

Add this to the several inches of snow received over the weekend, and things are looking pretty sweet in the mountains to our north. Such a nice recovery from the nasty rain only a week ago.

All this means some pretty good conditions at Mount Snow in Vermont. And that’s where the Avie’s Ski / Sports trip is heading this Sunday, February 3rd. You could have the view in the image above, taken on the Bluebird Express to the summit at Mount Snow.

Sure, it’s Super Bowl Sunday. And yes, the Patriots are playing. The lure to be there in front of the TV watching Tom Brady and the rest of that fabulous team work their magic is strong.

Game time isn’t until 6:30PM. The Avie’s Ski / Sport bus will leave Mount Snow at 4:30PM. Almost sure to be back to Westerly by 8:00PM. Still plenty of game time left to go. Most if not all of the second half of the game will await your viewing pleasure. If you are one of the skiers or riders being dropped off in Waterford, you certainly will catch the second half of the game.

Be realistic. The Patriots have a history of having these big events turn into nail-biters decided in the final moments of the game. Maybe even in overtime. My playbook says this:

  • Get in a great day of skiing and riding in the great conditions at Mount Snow
  • Chill on the bus on the way home and stay abreast of the game on your phone
  • Arrive home around game half-time and watch the most exciting part of the game

Why waste your entire Super Bowl Sunday sitting around doing nothing WAITING for the game to start?

Go skiing and riding. Get yourself to Mount Snow on the Avie’s Ski / Sports bus trip and make your Super Bowl Sunday a fun-filled, action packed, back-to-back thrills day.

I have had the pleasure of being on several Avie’s Ski / Sports bus trips to Mount Snow on Super Bowl Sunday in the past. And here is what happens:

  • It’s a typical Sunday morning on the mountain, though maybe a bit less busy than usual
  • Late morning sees a mass exodus of skiers and riders rushing elsewhere to make chili
  • After a lunch break there are no lines at the lifts and few skiers and riders on the slopes
  • By late afternoon it’s so quite on the slopes you think its your private ski mountain
  • The big smile won’t leave your face on the bus ride back home
  • You try to focus on the second half of the Super Bowl, but can’t get the memories of such a great day of skiing and riding out of your head.

Get signed up for this incredible trip to Mount Snow by end of the day this Thursday. $99.95 is a great price for a great day of skiing and riding. Followed by an evening watching the New England Patriots vie for yet another Super Bowl title.

Hope to see you Sunday morning for the trip north.

AlanD

Okemo January 30th!

The trip to Okemo on Wednesday, January 30th, needs about eight more skiers and riders to make it a “Go.”

If you have been thinking about taking advantage of a day on the slopes without the crowds, turn your thoughts into action. Get over to Avie’s Ski / Sports by tomorrow—Sunday—by mid-day to sign up. A decision on the trip must be made by mid-afternoon tomorrow, so don’t delay if you want to take advantage of a mid-week ski and ride opportunity.

And you should take that opportunity. Several inches of snow overnight tonight and into tomorrow will be gracing the hills of Vermont. Then Tuesday and into early Wednesday more inches—as many as 8—will fall in the Okemo area. That means a lot of nice, fresh snow to play in. Hmmm, what’s that called?

A powder day?

Pass along this information far and wide. Grab a friend and get over to Avie’s Ski / Sports and sign up for the Okemo trip this coming Wednesday. Be one of those fortunate ones on the bus to Okemo. You will not be sorry.

Fresh snow. No weekend crowds. No driving. And no high cost—$99.95 covers the ride via coach bus to and from Okemo, and your lift ticket to a day of fun letting gravity have its way with you on the slopes.

Sign up by tomorrow. Before mid-day. Okemo. Wednesday the 30th.

See you then and there.

AlanD

New Snowboards, Wax & Bus Trips On Tap

We have all been waiting for snow. And we got it. But unfortunately in a melted physical format. But no worries!! Up north they got snow. And lots of it. A foot and more of the wonderful white stuff fell on ski slopes all the way from New York to Maine.

And we have been waiting for a few other things beside snow. Such as, snowboards from Capita, fluorocarbon wax from SWIX, and bus trips from Avie’s Ski / Sports.

Snowboard Arrivals

Capita snowboards have had a hard time getting to retail shops this season. But no longer. A shipment of Capita snowboards arrived at Avie’s Ski / Sports and are now available. If you have been waiting for Capita boards to arrive, wait no longer. And don’t wait too long because they probably won’t have a long shelf life.

Fluoro- Wax

SWIX has been having some difficulty getting fluorocarbon waxes out of Norway, where they are produced, and into the US. The policy log jam finally opened up and we expected SWIX LF waxes to arrive mid-January. But the US government is not open for business, which means that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can’t sign off on the permits that would allow the shipment to get to us eager New England ski and snowboard waxers.

So we found an alternate source, and expect some low fluoro- ski wax to arrive early this week. What’s the big deal? If you wax your own skis or snowboards, low fluoro- wax is the “go to” wax for New England conditions. New England snow is typically high in moisture content, and low fluoro- wax significantly improves glide in high humidity snow. Never used a fluoro- wax? You should. As soon as you make the switch you will notice that your skis, or snowboard, want “to go” is the only way to describe it.

Ski & Ride Loon

And then of course there are ski and ride bus trips hosted by Avie’s Ski / Sports. Next on tap is a trip to the great state of New Hampshire to ski and ride at Loon. Great price of $99.95 per person, which includes round trip travel on a coach bus and your lift ticket at Loon. To best ensure that the trip runs to Loon, sign up before mid-afternoon on Thursday of this week. Avie’s needs to commit to bus and driver Thursday afternoon, and if there are not enough people signed up to go, the trip will be cancelled. You can of course get on the trip if you sign up after Thursday. But you might be disappointed to find out there is nothing to sign up for because the trip was cancelled due to lack of interest. That’s a shame. If you are interested in skiing or riding at Loon, sign up earlier than later.

Wednesday Trip to Okemo

On Wednesday, January 30th, the first Avie’s Ski / Sports mid-week ski and ride trip heads to Okemo in Vermont. Do you want a day on the slopes where you can rip up the trails top-to-bottom without crowds? Do you want a day skiing or riding from top-to-bottom and going directly onto the lift back to the top? If you answered YES to either (or both) then you MUST be on the Wednesday trip to Okemo. Be sure to sign up for the Wednesday January 30 trip to Okemo by mid-day on Monday the 28th so we can ensure the trip runs.

New snow, snowboards, and wax. And some new ski and ride trips ready to bring you someplace fun. So you can play on the new snow with your new snowboard which is slicked up with new wax.

Sounds good to me. See you there.

AlanD

Fun Day at Stratton

The group from Avie’s Ski / Sports had a blast at Stratton on the January 13th trip north. Conditions were phenomenal. Temperatures stayed in the high teens, but without a breath of wind. Great temps for skiing and riding.

And the sky. Such a beautiful sky. Not a cloud to be seen anywhere. The only thing resembling a cloud were the snow-capped peaks of the Presidential Range in New Hampshire off in the distance to the east.

Ok, great weather. How were conditions?

Incredibly good. Most of the mountain was open, and most open trails were groomed. With no wind, the snow stayed on the trails. The only spot that got a bit nasty in the afternoon was Janeway Junction. Too much traffic always seems to make that spot get scraped to glacier status. But if you avoided that, the rest of the slopes were firm, fast, and snow covered.

The new lift in the Snow Bowl area of the resort is a fantastic addition. The trip back to the summit from the bottom of World Cup now takes about 5 minutes rather than the 15 or so minutes with the previous lift. Better still, few seemed to know it was there because there was never a line. So, you could avoid the long, slow runout back to the base area with a short hop back to the summit. Very nice addition.

Was it crowded?

Even more surprising were the crowds. Or lack thereof. Yes, it was busy, but the longest wait I had was at the Sunrise Express lift out of the Sun Bowl, where it took about 5 minutes to get on the lift. So there were fewer people on the trails than what I think of as “normal” for a Sunday.

And once the Patriot’s game started, the trails got even more lonely. For those that decided to forgo at least the start of the game, the skiing and riding throughout the afternoon was spectacular.

Starting to get the idea it was a great day? It was. Personally, I thought the snow in the Sun Bowl area was the best, and my favorite trails for the day were Sunrise Super Trail, skiers left as you get off the Sunrise Express chair, and Lower Downeaster, skiers right coming off the chair.

Last Run

Right at the end of the day, the Sunrise Express lift in the Sun Bowl experienced problems and was shut down for repairs. Fortunately they got everyone off before shutting it down. This left the Solstice lift running, which I hadn’t been on before. It is a sloooooooow lift, but when it’s the only lift, you take it. Fortunately I took it only once, for my last run of the day. I took Big Ben, a novice trail right off the Solstice lift, back to the Sun Bowl lodge. It’s a scenic, winding trail through the woods, experiencing a gentle grade. It pops out of the woods at the top of a big, broad slope leading past the tubing hill.

The sun had been on the slope earlier in the day, which was now in the shadows as the sun was setting. I tipped over the top of the long wide slope, quickly finding out that the sun must have slightly thawed the surface, which then froze over as the sun dipped behind the mountain. For a novice trail, I had a fast ride down the slope back to the lodge. Big carves across the face of the trail, all the way to the bottom, was a fantastic way to end the day.

I was tempted to jump on the lift for one more spin down Big Ben, but opted not. My quads were screaming from a fun afternoon of torture. I decided to let it end on a high note. My quads were very grateful for that decision.

The bus ride back to Westerly was particularly quiet. Everyone was what I call “blissfully exhausted” from a fun day on the snow.

Mount Snow on tap

This coming Sunday, the 20th of January, the Avie’s Ski / Sports trip heads back to Vermont to visit the slopes at Mount Snow. Same great price of $99.95. Be sure to sign up by early afternoon on Thursday the 17th to help ensure that the trip will run.

Sure, you can still sign up for the trip after Thursday. But you run a risk of two very bad things happening. First—too many people waited until after Thursday afternoon to sign up, and the trip was cancelled because we thought there wasn’t enough interest. Second—too many people did sign up before Thursday afternoon and there are no seats left on the bus. In the first case, everyone loses. In the second, there is a big number of winners, and one loser.

Don’t be a loser. Sign up before Thursday afternoon

Following Mount Snow Avie’s heads to Loon in New Hampshire on the 27th. On January 30th, a Wednesday, Avie’s Ski / Sports has the first mid-week trip of the season, heading to Okemo. I urge you to be on that bus. Mid-week skiing and riding cannot be beat. Sign up for this trip early so that we know there is enough interest.

Check out the full trip list.

AlanD

Stratton on January 13th

Vermont and New Hampshire are getting whacked with a nice blanket of that fluffy white stuff we call snow. This weekend—Sunday specifically—you can be at Stratton on January 13th.

The 5 to 7-inches of snow, maybe more locally on the mountain, will freshen things up quite nicely for our skiing and riding pleasures. Stratton is a fun mountain, with a variety of terrain for all ages and abilities. A brand new lift over in the Snow Bowl will give another opportunity to get to the summit without returning to the base village.

The best part of the trip, sponsored by Avie’s Ski / Sports in Westerly, Rhode Island, is the price.

$99.95 per person

That price includes a ride to and from Stratton, on a comfy coach bus. Get on the bus in the morning and relax for a few hours as someone else does the driving. Get to Stratton and ski and ride all day long. Get on the bus at the end of the day, exhausted from so much fun, and let someone else do the driving.

The price includes your lift ticket cost. If you were to drive all the way to Stratton on your own, then go to the ticket window and get your lift pass, you would experience at least three unpleasant things. First, you would have driven all that way to Stratton early in the morning instead of relaxing with friends and family. Second, you would pay MORE for the lift ticket than for the entire Avie’s Ski / Sports cost of the trip. Third, at the end of the day, tired and crabby from paying full price for a lift ticket, you have to drive all the way back home.

So, don’t go on the Avie’s Ski / Sports bus trip this Sunday, January 13th, to Stratton. Then you get the pleasure of driving 6 hours AND paying MORE for your lift ticket than if you joined the folks leaving from Avie’s. That sounds like a great deal for YOU.

But not for me. I will be on that bus leaving Avie’s Ski / Sports and headed to Stratton.

Decision to confirm the bus and driver for the trip to Stratton must be made by mid-afternoon Thursday.

That’s tomorrow. Tomorrow afternoon. If you want to go on this trip, you need to have your reservations in place before mid-afternoon tomorrow. If too few are signed up to go, then the trip gets canceled. That would be a sad thing. Sad indeed.

I look forward to seeing you Sunday morning at Avie’s Ski / Sports. Stratton awaits us!!

Skiing & Riding CAN’T Wait

Looks like the first Ski & Ride trip, headed to Okemo, is a no go for this Sunday. That’s a bummer because conditions are getting increasingly good. Yeah, we had a few flip-flops into some spells of nasty warmer conditions.

Look at the picture above? What do you see? You see “snow whales.” These are gigantic mounds of snow that the mountain ops snow makers create. They close trails and make snow whales. Then they push that mountain of snow around to make nice conditions to ski and ride on. That’s whats been going on up north the past few weeks.

We have a return to cold on tap. And some fresh snow has fallen up in the north country. With more predicted in the days to come. Granted, no major dumps in sight. But they will come. No doubt about that. They just never happen soon enough or often enough for us snow hounds.

Ski conditions are good and getting better. So all of us should be chomping at the bit, as the saying goes, to get out on the hill and let gravity have some fun with us. I know I am. But I don’t get to feed that need at Okemo this Sunday on an Avie’s Ski & Ride Trip. And that’s a bummer.

An Avie’s Ski / Sport Ski & Ride Trip is always fun. And cost effective. The price of a trip, which includes the ride—on a coach bus—to and from the ski area AND the full day lift ticket, costs less than the price of the lift ticket for the day at the resort. Participants have nothing to do except chill on the way up. Ski and ride like banshees until the bull-wheels stop spinning and the lifties wave you away. Chill on the return trip and take in a movie or two.

The thing is that decisions on “trip go or no-go” have to be made by Thursday mid afternoon. The bus company needs to confirm use of the bus and driver for the day. If, as seems to be the case sometimes, everyone thinking about going on the trip waits until Friday or Saturday, it’s too late. The sad decision to cancel the trip has already been made. Days earlier.

Owen, after hearing the trip was off.

Ted gets sad. I get sad. Owen gets sad and depressed. People walking in with big smiles on their faces ready to sign up for the trip Friday evening and Saturday morning leave with frowns. That’s a bummer.

If you are considering participation in an Avie’s Ski / Sports Ski & Ride Bus Trip, then you need to get to the store and commit to the trip before mid-day on Thursday. I figured this was worth saying because hey, how would you know otherwise?

Now you know.

Commit to Avie’s Ski & Ride trips by mid-day on Thursdays

At latest.

Next trip up north on bus from Avie’s Ski / Sports takes place on Sunday, January 13th. This trip goes to Stratton. If you are interested in this one, and you should be, get to Avie’s and sign up.

Do it now. Or tomorrow. Maybe even wait until Monday. But don’t wait until the last minute. Though if you do, that last minute should be Thursday the 10th at noon.

Share this far and wide. Especially with friends and family you know who do take part in the Ski & Ride trips from Avie’s Ski / Sports.

I hope to see you Sunday the 13th as we head to Vermont together to ski and ride at Stratton.

AlanD