Four times in a row. Four times knee to thigh deep untracked down Burke’s widest and most prominent run, rarely ever a good option for untracked powder due to grooming and race training. While the local guys went straight for the trees, I lapped some of the deepest and best untracked powder turns I’ve skied in years in plain sight of the Quad.
I will never understand the urge to rush the trees when a normally groomed trail is just begging for deep and smooth tracks. Isn’t that why we went into the woods in the first place? Because we couldn’t find good snow and untracked powder on the trails? I hollered and screamed at the top of my lungs in plain sight of the lift, yet no one riding that lift seemed to be following me down the most obvious run into the best snow on the mountain.
While 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.
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.