A Jay “Powder” Day

Jay Trees

Early and late season powder days are usually my favorite of the season. Especially when almost all of New England is receiving a drenching rain. Shoulder season means fewer people. Rain in metro areas means even fewer still. After two shit springs, March finally delivered. But few stick around to enjoy the harvest.

After driving almost two hours through rain and upper 30 degree temperatures, I must admit to having my doubts. I passed through Jay village and began the ascent up 242 but the temperature was not dropping. The rain was not changing to snow. But when I opened my car door at the base area, sure enough, the precipitation was frozen.

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Smuggs: Just for the Historical Record

I wasn’t feeling it today. The snow was wind blown and stripped. A little wind blown natural snow remained from the powder day two days ago. But for the most part, any remaining snow was blown clear of the mountain. The wind was fierce, the snow was wind blown packed, and I was feeling tired and uninspired. I packed it in after two runs due to exhaustion and fatigue. An entry just for the historical record if there ever was one.

Mansfield: Profanely Good & Devilishly Deep

Climbing Gully

After plans fell through for the weekend, I took Saturday off to rest and decided on Stowe for Sunday. I wasn’t expecting much. The storm was three days past and base temperatures on Saturday were above freezing. But I knew the ridge would have some great skiing regardless. So I set a late alarm. I woke up in no hurry and checked my phone for a weather update only to discover Stowe reported 4-8″ of new snow overnight. Lesson learned, never set a late alarm.

Between Stowe’s early lift openings and the 2.5 hour drive, first tracks were not going to happen (nor second or third for that matter). But that wasn’t why I was making the drive. I see no reason to ski Stowe unless I am going to hike the ridge and I figured (correctly) traffic up high would be limited.

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Smuggs: Powder Frenzy

Smuggs Chute Skiing

The Big One. A well promoted storm providing several days notice for metro skiers to plan and preposition. The biggest storm of the season followed a storm blackout lasting several weeks during a below average season. All the ingredients for a powdery frenzy. Two feet of fresh was in the forecast for all of northern New England. A vacation day was a given. But the decision on where to go was agonizing.

Despite friends going to Jay and Mad River Glen, I ruled out those mountains due to fears of wind holds at Jay and crowds at Mad River Glen. Cannon was a storm bullseye but I had vouchers to burn. Smuggs seemed like a good option as it wouldn’t attract many metro area skiers due to its remote location (and I haven’t had a good Smuggs powder day this year).

Smuggs received two feet of snow during the storm and the locals were restless. I didn’t arrive in time for the Sterling Double’s early opening. So after waiting fifteen minutes for a ticket (only two windows open on a powder day: W-T-F), I lined up at the rope for M1. The lift was delayed but worth waiting since Sterling had already sent three cycles up the mountain. Eventually, ski patrol approached the rope saying “be cool, guys” which prompted everyone to immediately duck the rope.

I was on the fifth or sixth chair and assumed most skiers would go for Liftline so I opted for F.I.S. instead. As expected, no one had skied it yet by the time I got to the lip. I dropped in. *POOF* Knee deep powder every turn, face shot after face shot, all the way down Upper F.I.S. The trail had been groomed flat the previous evening so there were no bumps to contend with. I opened up the skis and went for it. Amazing!

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(Q)Burke: Firm & Fast

QBurkeWhile at Jackson Hole, I received a comment on Facebook stating that I wasn’t missing much. As it turns out, I was missing something. I was missing some pretty shitty mid-winter conditions as evidenced by today’s attempt at skiing. Welcome home.

But don’t cry for me. After a perfectly timed trip yielded at least 6-8″ of fresh four out of five days, Jackson Hole’s summit today was in the mid-30s and the Village was in the mid-40s. I’ll take frozen hard pack over spending $1200 to travel more than halfway across the country to ski spring corn and have it freeze solid the next day. With an east coast storm lined up for later this week, the timing was as perfect as could be despite one weekend worth of setback.

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