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.