Cannon. My favorite mountain. Yet, I have been such a stranger lately. Only five visits during the past two years? It could only mean that my discount strategies have expired. Even today, I refused to pay full price and opted for the half day ticket. Cannon is always good enough for me (even at its worst). But never good enough to pay full price.
Cannon is home. Seems like it always has been and always will be. Yet I’ve skied Jay more times. I have had season passes at Jay but never at Cannon. But Cannon is home and Jay isn’t. Jay has been quite good to me over the years. But it will never be in my blood. Jay is the smart play for reliable trees and powder but… well, there is always a but. Jay is to my mind as Cannon is to my heart.
Before skiing, I stopped by the repair shop for my once per year ski tune. For some reason, I thought I might need it today. It wasn’t my skis that needed the tune up but rather my head. My first turns were a sloppy skidding mess despite the tune and generally soft snow. I wasn’t forward enough, not enough angulation, my stance was too narrow. My mind wasn’t “in it”. I wasn’t going for it like it was yet another epic powder day *yawn*.
But after a few runs, I found some aggression. My hands clenched around my pole grips a bit tighter as I applied forward pressure to my boot tongues and laid an edge that stuck, propelling me forward into the next turn. Not effortless, not like I’ve become used to. But requiring mindfulness and attention, requiring effort and rewarding that effort appropriately. Cannon said “you’ve become soft, push a bit harder”. So I did. And it felt great.
A Cannon Day: It is good for what ails you.
Fourteen hours ago, it seemed like this powder day was not to be. I got up, took out the dog, and sat down looking out the window, dead eyes. I felt absolutely wasted. I had not been feeling well for days and the cold hit hard Saturday and Sunday. I knew that a foot of fresh was awaiting, but my body said “no way”. I sat there for half an hour watching the minutes tick away. I had to make a go decision soon to make first chair. I chugged some water, tossed some medicine in my bag, and got moving. I might not be able to ski much but I sure as heck was going to try.
I can report that I have found the cure for the common cold and it is a powder day at Cannon. Once I got going, I felt better every run. As per my usual plan of attack at Cannon, I started on Zoomer and found about eight inches over scratch on the groomers. Untracked on top of groomer is my favorite powder condition (since I get to ski it so rarely) but powder on top of scratch is not so hot. Lower angle Rocket had the best snow of this variety. But the better and deeper action was in the trees as I found in Lakeview and Echo.
Today was the busiest that I have ever seen Cannon. The crowded trifecta happened including a foot of new snow, excessive storm hype all week (including over forecasting expected totals), and a holiday vacation week. Additionally, the storm ended and the roads were cleared well before sunrise making an easy drive for metro area powder hounds to Cannon. The untracked went faster than I have ever seen it go at Cannon. According to someone I talked with on a chairlift, Cannon, Loon, and Bretton Woods were all turning cars away due to no remaining parking spaces.
Cannon showed off its snowmaking improvements during opening weekend. The new system has clearly allowed Cannon to shore up a critical shortcoming of the ski area. Cannon has always struggled to open terrain and connect its two lodges and summit building during the early season. When natural snow and consistent cold temperatures are sparse, the mountain can struggle to open up major routes before the New Year, let alone the important Christmas vacation week.
In recent years, Cannon has historically opened the Peabody Quad with one mid mountain route route along the narrow trails Middle Cannon and Gremlin. This created a super WROD and surface conditions that deteriorated rapidly. Despite the blue square ratings of Middle Cannon to Gremlin, solid intermediate level skiing was clearly not available during a typical opening weekend at Cannon.
This year, Cannon went with a different strategy spreading out open terrain for ALL ability levels between three lifts including the Brookside beginner lift. True beginner terrain on opening day at Cannon? Perhaps a first as long as I have been skiing there. And even some terrain park features. But Cannon’s grooming was not up to par compared to the new snowmaking system which meant that intermediates still would not be happy with the offerings. On the other hand, those of us that appreciate ungroomed conditions were delighted.
There has been an awakening…
…have you felt it?
The man made snow…
…and the powder.