11 Degree Smile

Where is one of the few places you could be where the temperature is 11 degrees and you have a big smile? The obvious answer is a ski mountain.

That was the situation for me this past Tuesday.

As I pulled into the parking lot at Mount Sunapee the thermometer in the car registered 11 degrees. But the sky was bluebird clear and there wasn’t so much as a whisker of a breeze. So booting up at the car in the parking lot was not so very bad.

Once again I put my boot bag on the passenger side seat. And once again I turned on the seat warmer about a half hour before getting to the slopes. My boots, while not exactly toasty, were definitely nicely warmed. I stuck my gloves behind the boot bag so they were up against the heated seat back rest. They were nice and toasty.

The crowds were a bit lighter than the week before and there were more trails open from the summit to base. That made for an even more fun time letting gravity have its way with me. Because it was nice and cold, the snow was firm and fast. And it stayed that way.

Conditions have improved over the past week. Yes, there was a bit of snow that fell up north. Not a ton but enough to freshen things up a bit and have a few more trails open up. I skied my first black diamonds of the season, just to remind my legs that not every run from the top was going to be on “Easy Street.”

All in all it was a great day on the slopes. And with the temperatures staying cold—in fact getting REAL COLD this weekend—the snow will certainly not melt. It also looks like some more snow is on tap for early next week, meaning another freshen up and perhaps more trails opening for use.

Yes it is a bit odd not being able to boot up in the lodge. And it is very odd to walk into a lodge and see it nearly, if not completely, empty. Odd as well to see the edges of the parking lot festooned with Port-A-Potties. And odder still to see a single skier or rider on a quad chair going up alone when there is a line of skiers and riders waiting for a chair to the summit.

But skiers and riders are still smiling and having fun playing in the snow. Maybe it’s because it’s 11 degrees. Or maybe it’s because the people who like to be outside and smiling when it’s 11 degrees are adaptable and willing to slide around or bash through the moguls life tosses in front of them. Of course it could be that incredible feeling of freedom when gravity tugs and your world collapses into a tunnel where vision is the blur of snow flying by and sound the clicking and clacking of steel edges on ice and crust.

Maybe it’s just all the above.

First Tracks At Mount Sunapee

A cross-mountain trail at Mount Sunapee

Okay, so technically I didn’t get first tracks on the mountain, but it was first tracks of this ski season for me. And it did take place at Mount Sunapee. The headline is therefore figuratively correct.

How were conditions you ask?

Given there has been precious little natural snow and that temperatures have been favorable for snow making in an on and off fashion, conditions were pretty good. At least on the trails that were open. The official Mount Sunapee posting stated about 50% open. That said, there were only a fistful of trails coming off the summit that you could connect up to get back to base. But all had pretty good snow coverage and were striped with nice corduroy.

That nice corduroy started to wear thin here and there as the morning worked towards noon time. Things wore thin fairly fast because there was lots of traffic over the trails open. It wasn’t super busy, but with only limited trails open they saw lots of action.

Bottom line? I am glad I went. I only had a half day to spend on the slopes so I didn’t get to see how conditions fared come afternoon. But the reality is my legs were screaming at me by late morning anyway. Staying all day would likely have resulted in some very unpleasant face plants, yard sales, and maybe even a downhill ride on a ski patrol sled. I am pretty glad I avoided all that!

So, you are thinking, get to the important point—what is skiing in the pandemic like? Not so very different, except….

You couldn’t leave bags in the lodges, though you could boot up in the lodges. The bottom line here is that regardless where you boot up, you are making at least one trip in ski boots from parking lot to ski lift. If you opt to boot up in the lodge, add an adventurous trek from lodge to car to stow your non-ski articles.

Bathrooms are still open, though Port-a-Potties were available here and there along the edges of the parking lot. Lodges are open and food available but with restrictions to allow for social distancing, etc. I didn’t go into any of the lodges so I cannot give any first hand information. It was a pleasant day—low to mid-30s—so there was no need to seek out warming areas. In fact, there were quite a few tail gate lunches taking place throughout the parking area.

Masks were required in social spaces, like the lift lines and on the lifts. Lift lines were not long or slow, but it was a weekday. I would say that it seemed more busy than I expected for a weekday, but I haven’t spent much time at Mount Sunapee so I have no prior experience for a reference point. That said the lines moved along at a good pace and wait time was never more than a couple minutes at the main high speed quad. You could ski right onto the slower mid-mountain lift.

Singles could stay single on the lift, if they wanted. But most singles paired up on opposite ends of the seat, keeping lines moving right along. Everyone was friendly, happy, and of course, having fun. Why else would you be there?

Bottom line? Yes, the experience is a bit difference. Booting up at the car was not such a big deal, but it wasn’t 10-degrees and windy. I may have a different opinion under those circumstances. Mount Sunapee is not huge, at least in the main parking area, so the walk to the lift was not really all that much extra exertion or adventure. But there wasn’t any snow on the ground, so the lot was all gravel and made for easy walking. Put that gravel under a bunch of snow and ice typical of ski area parking lots and again, I may have a different opinion.

Would I do it again? You betcha! And I probably will. Maybe even next week if I can sneak away again.

Here are a few tips to help you plan for your pandemic ski adventures.

  1. Put your boot pack on a seat in the car that is equipped with seat heaters. Turn the heat units on a half hour or so before you get to the resort. My boots, while not toasty, were nicely warmed as I booted up in the parking lot. No seat heaters? Lay your boots on the seat and have one of the passengers sit on them to get them warm. You may need more than a half hour. If the passenger is not happy about providing that service, and is being annoying about it, be sure to put the boots on the seat buckle side up.
  2. Bring along a foldable step stool to sit on while getting in and out of your ski boots. The height and angle is much better than from the edge of a car seat with the door open. If you want to get fancy, and I suggest you do, bring along a carpet square to put your feet on so you don’t track sand, gravel, snow and ice into your nicely warmed boots! As an alternate method, you could boot up in the nice warm lodge, then make the passenger who warmed the boots play valet and bring your boot bag back to the car. If they complain, forget to give them the key to the car and quickly get on the lift to the summit.

That’s about it. Yes, skiing in a pandemic is a bit different. But once on the slopes with gravity taking hold, nothing much is different. It’s still a blast.

But let’s leave on a really high high note. There were 3 or 4 trails that had massively high mounds of snow piled up on them. These I am sure were the results of several nights and days of making snow when the temperatures allowed. And no doubt these gigantic piles of snow were going to be pushed down the hill for the pleasure of skiers and riders this coming weekend.

AND let’s not forget that a storm is on tap for the area. While down here on the coast we most certainly will get wet, up to the north it looks like they will get white. So maybe plan a trip north over the holiday weekend, or sometime next week.

If I see a car on the highway with skis in the roof rack, and a passenger sitting a bit too high on the seat, with a less than happy face, I’ll know you read this blog and took some really good trip planning advice.


Avie’s Ski / Sports has put together a few ski packages. Each bundles the skis, boots, and bindings that work together to make your time on the slopes more fun. And you get to save a few bucks, which is never a bad thing. Let’s explore a bit.

Game Improvement Package

Have you been renting skis? Do you own old, out-dated gear? Do you ski only occasionally? Avie’s Improvement Package will move you to the next step so you have more fun on the slopes.

Women’s Game — $599.95

For instance, Blizzard Alight 72 skis paired with Tecnica Mach Sport HV 65W boots. However, that price includes bindings and aluminum ski poles. The package is an even better deal because it also includes binding mounting and adjustment. Select from Nordica Drive 75, Blizzard Alight 72, or Volkl Flair 8.0 for skis. Boot choices are Dalbello DS MX 70W, Nordica Cruise 65W, or Tecnica Mach Sport HV 65W.

Men’s Game — $599.95

Men, for instance, get to pick from Nordica Drive 75, Blizzard Quattro 7.2, and Volkl Deacon 8.0 skis. Boot choices are Dalbello DS AX 80, Nordica Cruise 70, or Tecnica Mach Sport HV 70. Again, bindings, poles, mounting, and adjustments, are included.

So, if you are looking to jump out of the rentals or replace some tired old gear, a Game Improvement package is a perfect choice.

But, what if you are an experienced skier? What if you already have some gear and maybe want to refresh your time on the slopes with something a bit more intriguing?

The Carving Package

Avie’s Ski / Sports has for experienced skiers a package aimed at carving up that nicely striped frontside corduroy.

Women’s Carvers — $799.95

Because you already are an accomplished skier, the carving package offers stiffer boots and stiffer skis that will tip into a turn that leaves two thin little pencil stripes across the slope behind you. Choose, for instance, from Nordica Astral 78 CA, Blizzard Alight 7.7, or Volkl Flair 72 skis. Slide your feet into either Dalbello DS AX 80W, Nordica Cruise 75W, or Tecnica Mach Sport HV 75W boots. Again, bindings, poles, mounting and adjustment is included. As a bonus, you also get 25% off a set of custom footbeds to slip into those new boots.

Men’s Carvers — $799.95

For you man-beast carving aficionados, choose Nordica Navigator 80 CA, Blizzard Quattro 7.7, or Volkl Deacon XT skis. Yes, each ski comes with bindings, mounting and adjustment included. Boot choices are Dalbello DS AX 90 or Nordica Sportmachine 90. Don’t forget to pick out a set of aluminum poles. And let’s consider dropping in a pair of custom footbeds so your feet really nestled into those new boots; 25% off the foot beds.

So come on in to Avie’s Ski / Sports and check out these great ski packages. Shop early for best selection of styles and sizes; choices are limited to in stock items.

Moaning and Groaning

Some were looking out the window this morning and moaning and groaning about the wind whipped white stuff flashing by. Sad thoughts of short days, slippery walkways, and shoveling driveways filled their heads. A shake of the head and a return to the morning news was their best response.

Others, myself included, looked out the window and moaned and groaned in ecstasy. Beautiful fluffy white flakes whipped past my face, turning the lawn a most wondrous shade of not-green. Happy thoughts of days on the slopes filled my head, thinking they are indeed too short. A smile forms thinking about slippery trails through the woods. A flush of adrenaline comes through as my mind sees powder parting off the sides of the shovels of my skis in turn after graceful turn. I shake my head in wonder that the time has nearly come, again. I go to the closet to ogle skis, boots, and parkas.

Take a look at the images up top. Stratton Peak, Cannon Summit, Killington Superstar. All dressed up in white. Another season of skiing and riding is nearly upon us. The snow today was just a teaser, but that’s okay by me. It means the season is changing and soon the slopes will be dressed not just in a dusting or even a foot that might melt away in a day or two, but white for the season.

I will be pulling skis from the closet and shaving off the summer wax. Then touching up edges to be bright and sharp. As I get antsy, I’ll put on a coat of “fits most temperatures” wax, scrape it off and brush and polish the bases until they gleam like mirrors.

I for one am about ready for some serious playing in the snow. Are you?

Welcome Back Snow!

Smugglers Notch, Vermont

We drove up to Vermont this past Friday to visit Dan and Alice. They are long-time friends—I’ve known Dan since high school. It started raining when we got to Killington area, then continued the rest of the day. And through the night.

Saturday morning dawned grey, but with patches of blue breaking through. By late morning it was a beautiful, classic Vermont October day. Sunny and brisk with temperatures in the high 40s and low 50s.

Dan and Alice live up by Sugarbush. We all went out for a morning hike to stretch our legs and tire the dogs. Low and behold, way up on the tall peaks the landscape was capped with a coating of white. Later, in the car, we spied snow atop Camel’s Hump and other high peaks we didn’t know the names of. We didn’t get as far north as Stowe, but Alice sent me a photo from a friend who lives up by Smuggs. That’s the view above.

On our drive home Sunday we got glimpses of Pico and Killington peaks from Route 100. We saw ski trails carved among the trees graced with white. Okemo showed only a few ragged remnants of white scattered in shady areas. Either the snow didn’t happen or it melted. We had temperatures Sunday morning at 30 degree by Sugarbush and Mad River, but well into the 40s in Ludlow.

No, it wasn’t a skiable snowfall. Even if it was I didn’t have my ski gear with me anyway. And if I did the mountains aren’t open for over zealous skiers and riders. But it was heartening, and exciting, to see white atop the lovely hills of Vermont.

I could wax poetic about the juxtaposition of brilliant fall colors and the stark white of the high peaks. But I won’t. All I really saw was the beautiful white snow and the slideshow playing in my head of skiing past and skiing to come.

While the visit north with Dan and Alice was meant to be chill and to help clear heads of Zoom meetings, work day pressures, and the rest of the mental clutter associated with our lives in pandemic days, it did more than that for me.

The very sight of snow on the mountains stirred a restlessness somewhere deep inside. A smile came. Happy thoughts arrived. My mind darted deep into my memory and drew forth the feel and smell of frozen air breathed in, the dull sound of the thunk of ski lifts running over the towers, the crisp click of edges on crust, the soft shush of skis cutting a turn, the muted whoops and laughs from deep in the trees.

I always return refreshed and rejuvenated after a visit up to see Dan and Alice and pile of dogs and cats that make up their household. But this trip, with sightings of snow, left me not only refreshed and rejuvenated, but hopeful. Hopeful that despite all the other uncertainties of the moment, the air will chill and snow will fall. The freedom and release of pointing a pair of sticks downhill and playing with gravity will indeed be here again. And soon.

Thank you Dan. And Alice. Of course, Thank You Vermont.

And So It Begins

The first issue of Powder magazine was in the mailbox last week, followed a few days later by SKI magazine. Those are my indicators that it’s time to turn some serious attention to the upcoming ski and ride season.

I have of course been thinking off and on since late July about the upcoming season of white. Will it be a snowy season? Will all the crazy pandemic restrictions allow for some unrestricted play on the slopes?

Good questions that will no doubt be answered in due time. We will be exploring and reporting back in this blog space what approach New England resorts will be taking as they ready themselves for skiing and riding.

A 2020/2021 Ski and Ride Season?

For the moment, it will have to suffice to say that the ski hills to our north are planning for openings pretty much at the usual times. A few may open a week or two later than usual, and you can pretty much bet that all will have some kind of restrictions on number of people on the premises on any given day. We will be exploring their approaches and post that info as things firm up.

With that said, given the uncertainty of how that nasty COVID creature will behave as we enter winter, things may—and likely will—shift as time flows along. You may want to consider subscribing to this blog so that you stay in the loop, so to speak.

Things That WILL Happen This Season

There are some things that you can absolutely, no questions asked, be sure of happening this coming winter season.

  1. Avie’s Ski / Sports is morphing from summer to winter. Every day new boxes, big and small, but all containing fun things, are being delivered to the shop. Skis, bindings, snowboards, boots, gloves, goggles and more. In the coming weeks shorts and sandals will be replaced by skis and snowboards.
  2. The Avie’s Ski / Sports website is being updated with information on all the gear that will be in the shop this season, with descriptions of that gear. And be sure that we will highlight the new and improved features going into that gear so you can make informed buying decisions. An early October completion for the website update is planned.
  3. The tuning shop will be opening. So beat the spiders off your skis and snowboards and bring them in to Avie’s for a nice tune up. If you are one of those people who really, really love their gear and had summer wax applied—time to get that lovely wax scraped off and buffed out!
  4. Avie’s Ski / Sports is overflowing with seasonal lease gear. Yeah, I really mean that. The upper floor of the shop looks like a colorful porcupine convention! Come in and get your pick of the quills. For those with kids a seasonal lease is the best bargain you will find anywhere. For adults unsure of what gear they want, lease to own is a great way to try-before-you-buy.
  5. All precautions are being taken at Avie’s to comply with safety. Masks, hand sanitizer, and distancing. Get with the season and pull on a ski or ride neck gaiter and come on in for a bit of shopping.

What’s Uncertain for This Season

Well, we never know how the weather will turn out. But I am hoping, as we sit here amid a prolonged drought, that all that saved up precipitation will come back to New England between December and April as fluffy white snow. Join me in that hope. You never know the power of positive thinking!

We also don’t know the availability of the incredible Avie’s Ski / Sports Ski & Ride bus trips. Discussions are underway to determine safety as well as ability to fit into still undetermined ski resort plans for limiting numbers. Again, tune in here to get updates as things firm up.

In the meantime, enjoy the fall season. Colors are popping. Sunday River has been firing snow guns. Frost has graced the high elevations. Days are becoming crisp and the nasty humidity a thing gladly forgotten.

Get out and hike and bike and strengthen those leg muscles. Ski and ride season will be upon us soon. I know I am ready!

Beneath the Sea

Slings, Points, Bags

One of the great joys of summer is getting in the water. And one of the great joys of being in the Watch Hill area is the abundance of marine life.

Avie’s Ski / Sports has everything you need to slip beneath the surface and enjoy New England’s underwater glories.

Wet suits, masks, fins, snorkels, and scuba tank fills. Avie’s has all you need to get in and underwater.

Interested in spearfishing for dinner? Spear guns, roller guns, and pole spears are in stock to help you do that. Rubber weight belts get you neutrally buoyant, and long-blade fins propel you quickly and efficiently to the bottom in search of dinner. Or to just look around at the sea life.

Stop in to Avie’s Ski / Sports and pick up new gear, replacement gear, or replacement parts—bands, tips, weights, dive flags. It’s all here for you.

Summer is here and the salty waters beckon. Scuba and free-diving are excellent ways to spend some quality time doing something fun, interesting, and rewarding.

Avie’s Ski / Sports is open Monday through Saturday, 10:00AM to 5:00PM.

Lurking In The Closet…

The Highwayman…in your closet?

It’s July. The day is hot. So hot that even the act of getting out of bed in the cool of morning makes you break out in a sweat. And worse yet, the air is so water-filled with humidity that you really think you should have gills instead of lungs.

To seek any form of refuge, you go down into the basement where you know it will be at least a few degrees cooler. As you step down the stairs you notice an odor. A dead mouse?

At the bottom of the stairs the odor is stronger. Bigger. More malodorous. Hmmm, maybe a deceased rat?

You head towards the closet on the far side of the room. Each step of your approach finds the disgusting reek getting stronger and stronger. You realize it can’t be a rodent. It’s something far worse.

You get to the closet door where the stench is nearly overpowering. You grasp the handle wondering if this is the doorway to the River Styx and if the Highwayman awaits to take you across.

Terrified, but determined, you throw the door open. There, in the dark corner of the basement closet is the source of the most imaginably horrible smell you have yet to smell.

It’s the family collection of ski and snowboard boots tossed aside at the end of the winter season.

You slam the door and race up the steps to fresh air. The heat and humidity hit you like a sock filled with sand. You hop in the car to go purchase an air conditioning unit so you needn’t go down in the basement again. You make a mental note to not volunteer to gather the gear for the first ski and ride trip of the season.

A Better Way

While the above may be a bit imaginative, it is close to reality in many cases. I work in a ski shop. I know the truth because it cannot be easily hidden. But it can be easily prevented.

And there is no better time to stop the Highwayman from taking up residence in your basement. The end of the season is near, and for many, already here. Before tossing those boots into the basement closet, reconsider. Avoiding the scenario above is not as difficult as you might imagine. In fact, it’s easy. Here’s how.

Step 1

Go get your ski or snowboard boots. Hold your breath if you have to, and take the boots outside if need be. Now the gross part…..stick your hand in the boot, pull out the liner, pull the footbed out of the liner, and place both downwind. Take a deep breath, grab the other boot and repeat the process. You survived the worst of it.

Step 2

Get a 5-gallon bucket and add a couple of drops of a mild, anti-bacterial dish soap. Yes, the liners are gross but a few drops of soap will do the job. Fill the bucket about two-thirds full with cool/cold water. Insert the liner into the soapy water, being sure to immerse the liner entirely. Get your hand back inside the liner and gently agitate the soapy water inside the liner for 30-seconds or so. Remove the liner, empty out the water and put aside. Grab the other liner and repeat. Gently wash the footbeds when done with the liners.

DO NOT use bleach. It will destroy those liners faster than you can say “OMG” the long way. Then again, if you really want a new pair of boots…

Step 3

Fill the bucket back up, but this time with no soap, just cool/cold water. Or take the liners to the bath tub. In either case, rinse the liners very, very well. There should be no soapy residue or soap bubbles after rinsing. Then rinse the footbeds.

Step 4

Take those nice clean boot liners and footbeds, and put them somewhere in the open where it is dry and where they receive lots of air circulation. If the day is nice put them outside. But take them in before the dew settles in the evening. Leave the liners in that dry, air circulating space for 2 to 3 days to ensure they are absolutely dry.

Step 5

Get a shoe deodorizing spray. There are a ton of them out there to choose from, but you may want to focus on organic/all-natural sprays. It is possible that a chemical-based spray could lead to a break down of the liner foam, so going organic/all-natural will be safer. Give the liners a spray, let them air dry for a day and you are almost done.

Step 6

Take your nice, clean, non-stinking boot liners and slide the footbeds in. Then insert the liners back into the boots. If ski boots, lightly clamp all the buckles. If snowboard boots, lightly tie/BOA tighten the laces. Why? Because this will help the boots, whether ski or snowboard, hold their shape. This will ensure that they fit the way they are supposed to next season. This is especially true of newer boots constructed of lighter, thinner materials that may take on odd shapes if left unattended.

The final act of your boot maintenance project should be to store them in a dry spot. Don’t toss them back in that damp, nasty basement closet. And don’t go to the opposite end of the spectrum and toss them in the attic. The extreme temperatures may destroy the integrity of the plastics.

Keep your ski or snowboard boots someplace where humidity can be kept in check, and where air circulates on occasion. You will be much happier this coming winter when the snow falls and you start prepping for that first trip up north. Your companions will be much happier too; they won’t need to try to hide their gag reflexes when you pull out your boots!

And best of all, you won’t have to risk meeting the Highwayman in that basement closet ever again.

Foggy Mountain Skidown

Soft snow on “Interstate” traversing Stratton

It was 8:45 AM Tuesday March 3rd and I was on the Ursa lift at Stratton on my way to the summit. I had just skied over from the Sunbowl. I got on early because the young lady at the Sunrise lift was, evidently, just stretching her arms. But it looked to me like she was waving a willowy “Come on over.” So I did. She laughed when I explained. Then she waved me onto a chair.

Looking uphill from my chair on the Ursa lift I could clearly see that I could not clearly see the summit. A thick blanket of fog cloaked the upper quarter of the mountain. Ugh.

As far as fog goes though, this one was pretty okay. It didn’t put a frozen glaze over my goggle lens, not even a wet mist. It did make the snow a bit one-dimensional as I took my first plunge down the “Get My Drift” trail. But as I said, as far as foggy mountain skiing goes, this was pretty okay.

The surface was a little crusty right at the summit, but softened rapidly with my descent. Once below the fog line visibility improved and the light on the surface not quite as one-dimensional. Temperatures back at the base were warm, despite not much sun.

By ten or ten-thirty in the morning the fog had dissipated and the sun was shining brightly. Temperatures soared with the sunlight. I had my helmet vents wide open, jacket unzipped and underarm vents zipped wide open as well. The snow was soft top-to-bottom. It was spring skiing at its best.

By late morning things were a bit sloppy back at base areas, and there was a growing abundance of those very annoying “sticky strips” as I call them. You know, those patches of snow that are waterlogged and grab the bottom of the ski or snowboard and try to jerk you to a stop. Very annoying. Very.

But the skiing was delicious. Big fat sloppy turns in the soft snow from summit to base. Exhausting, but so much fun.

While we are seeing a bit of warm up at the moment, temperatures drop for the weekend, with a bit of snow tossed in up north on Friday. There is still plenty of skiing and riding to be had.

Avie’s Ski / Sports is at Killington today, and those lucky folks will see a repeat of what I got to experience yesterday. There will be some very happy, very tired skiers and riders on the return trip.

This Sunday Avie’s Ski / Sports heads off to Loon Mountain in New Hampshire. Take this opportunity this weekend to get in a few more turns before you turn away from winter and look towards the coming of summer.

And don’t forget that Sunday March 15th is the Avie’s Ski / Sport “Customer Appreciation” trip. Ted and all the shop staff join in on this trip north to Mount Snow. Coffee, donuts, and snacks of all sorts—a few even healthy—are available. Ted plays “Santa” passing out lots of fun “give away” items he has collected over the season. Socks, hats, scarves, and only Ted knows what else, make for a fun and entertaining trip.

Get out and go skiing and riding while the turns are soft and sweet. I hope to see you on March 15th on the trip to Mount Snow.

Soft Turns at Stratton

From the top of the Sunrise lift at Stratton

I popped in to Stratton on Tuesday. That was yesterday. I didn’t get in a downhill adrenaline fix last week, so I badly needed some slope time.

It was the usual kind of Tuesday not busy. Actually, it seemed even a bit less busy than usual. If it weren’t for the junior racers darting around, it might have been downright lonely. But that suits me fine. That’s why I steal away to ski weekdays.

It was warm. And for it being February, surprisingly warm. Warm enough that there was meltwater in the parking lot at the Sun Bowl when I arrived at 8:30 AM. No ice. Just puddles.

I took my first run down Spruce, the trail just after you duck under the gondola. The surface was crunchy frozen up top and soft and buttery at the bottom. As the day wore on the summit and upper trails softened up, and snow at the very bottom was getting on the slushy side. Seemed more like late March rather than late February.

The weather may be crazy, but the skiing is crazy good. There is still lots of snow on the trails and in the woods. Sure, there were a few brownish patches here and there, but nothing too nasty. Except…

Scare of the Day

It was maybe my 8th run to the summit for the morning, and I decided to take a run down Polar Bear. Any of you familiar with that trail know that after a nice, meandering start there is an abrupt, steep drop off. Many times people stop there, right in the middle of the trail and gawk at the scenery. Some no doubt, wish they didn’t take Polar Bear after seeing the drop off.

As I said, there really weren’t many people around and there was no on the trail in front or behind me, and no one gawking at the middle of the trail. So I went right off the drop, right in the center of the trail. Why not?

As soon as my skis tipped over the crest I saw a big mud patch dead center in front of me. It was too close and I had too much speed. I tried a sharp, forceful skidding turn in hopes that I would just miss it. But didn’t.

The mud grabbed my skis like I landed on fly paper. By some miracle—I am truly convinced it was a miracle—as I pitched sideways, sure I was going into “yard sale” mode, the skis released from the mud and I managed to keep balance and ski away without injury or injustice. Guess I shoulda stopped and gawked.

“Hero” Trail

Everybody loves “Hero Snow.” That’s when the snow softens up just enough so that even the most rank neophyte can tip a ski into the snow and make some really nice turns. I confess, I love that “Hero Snow” as much as anyone. And I loved it the most on the Lower Downeaster trail in the Sunbowl.

Lower Downeaster is a super fun trail. It’s a Blue Square trail, so it’s not intimidating. But it has enough of a pitch to it so skiers and riders can pick up some speed, and enough width to let those skiers and riders bleed off the speed if need arises.

With so few people around, I lapped that trail 4 or 5 times, having so much fun in the soft, buttery snow, making big sloppy fun turns and carves from top to bottom.

More Snow On Order

The weather forecast shows a mixed bag, but the conclusion will be a snow event. Things start off a bit warmer than we might like, then cold settles in and Vermont and New Hampshire will see anywhere from 6 to 12 inches of snow. That ought to cover up that nasty mud patch on Polar Bear! And then some.

The cold then hangs around for a bit, so that newly fallen snow won’t be turning into meltwater anytime soon. So plan to take advantage of the snow while the getting is good.

This Sunday, March 1st, Avie’s Ski / Sports has a bus pointed north into New Hampshire with a destination of Waterville Valley. Add a foot of snow on Thursday and below freezing temps—but not bone-ratting temps—will keep all that delectable snow right there for use on Sunday.

Conditions are good and for the weekend they will be great. It might not be the “Hero Snow” I got to play in, but you can be assured it will be nice fluffy powder or nice soft packed powder on the groomers. If you really need “hero,” wear your Superman undies.

The Avie’s Ski / Sports bus trip list is getting short. Don’t put off having a fun time in the snow. Be on that bus to Waterville Valley this Sunday. You most definitely will not regret it.