After staying up way too late, the dog woke me up way too early. Springing forward isn’t an issue when you are planning a late start for spring conditions. But the weather looked like it wasn’t going to cooperate with partially cloudy skies and summit temps struggling to get to the forties. I bailed on a planned trip to Mansfield assuming the ridge would not soften. Instead, I got a late start and went to Burke.
It turns out that I could have putzed around at home a little while longer as conditions were still fast and firm in the late morning. During my first ride up the Mid-Burke Express, I shivered a little bit and debated returning to the lodge to replace my wind shirt with a full on jacket. I decided to tough it out and things did finally warm up after a few runs but temperatures never prompted full on spring conditions.
Today was like skiing in late November with four times as much open terrain. But despite that factual description, I can’t entertain any negative thoughts about today. If anything, I was surprised how good the skiing was despite two weeks of thaws including the worst January blow torch that I have ever witnessed.
Even if the groomer ripping wasn’t fun (it was), I was just happy to be skiing after twelve straight 12-15 hour work days sans any break to speak of. I’m past the hump of my work cycle and I’m ready for winter. And even if winter isn’t ready for me, I’m happy just to be making turns.
Burke had four distinctive routes from the mid-Burke Express. Willoughby was the icy hard pack that I had expected. Chute to Bear Den was marginally better. Upper Warren’s was an improvement; solid and edgable, firm but not hard packed. Upper Dipper had the best snow due to snow making efforts. Skier’s left had enjoyable soft and chalky man made snow forming irregular bumps and obstacles.
Springing forward always sucks. I was kidding myself last night when I set a predawn alarm. Not just because of the lost hour but also for thinking that first chair was a worth while pursuit. The radar was buzzing with snow in Northern Vermont. And I figured maybe it would amount to something worth the extra effort.
While the new snowfall did not amount to much and warmer temperatures made said snowfall a moot point, the skiing today was surprisingly decent. The snow was granular and grabby but not frozen nor hard pack. Despite recent rains, the snow pack was stable and deep showing no signs of loss. This is as good as can be hoped for following a rain event.
Due to the grabby nature of the snow, I stayed out of the woods. Bumps on Doug’s Drop suggested that despite natural trails being skiable, the groomers might be better. So I did some laps on Big Dipper, Bear Den, and Willoughby before calling it a day just as the Ride & Ski NEK Style crowd showed up. Truly admirable that Burke provides a cheap halfday ticket for the locals.
Today defined the awesomeness that is Burke Mountain. Burke can easily be overlooked in the shadow of its more well known neighbors to the southeast and northwest. Despite knowing how great Burke skis, even I often overlook Burke and go searching else where for deeper pow. Its a major mistake to overlook Burke. It’s a special mountain and I owe it to myself to get back here more often.
Juxtaposed against yesterday at Cannon, today was a relaxing coast. Which isn’t to say my pulse was not elevated. But rather that the thrills at Burke require substantially less masochism. Due to extensive muscle fatigue and soreness, I went to Burke intending to keep the pulse down and the excitement level low. Paths into the trees are littered with such best intentions.
It has been far too long since my last day at Burke. Last season was truly atrocious for Burke, seasonal snowfall was well below normal. This season, Burke missed many of the early southern storms. But recent trends have favored Burke which is now 100% open for business both on piste and off.
My game was off from the get go. Perhaps it was the extreme cold. Or perhaps it was fatigue from working twelve hour days twelve days straight in nearly non-stop stressful conditions. A lack of conditioning due to not many days on snow this past month did not help either. Whatever the cause, my legs were not moving as they should have been.