While hiking back up for my third run, I overheard a descending hiker mention that “you only see snow in July so many times in your life.” That is true for hikers and die hard skiers alike. Having now skied in July four times, I almost started to think of it as a regular occurrence. Something to be expected as normal and just another part of my season. Which it is. But that comment in passing reminded me that no ski day should be taken for granted, especially a July ski day.
The lifts have long since stopped turning but the east coast ski season is still far from over. After two years on the late season disabled list, it is with great pleasure that I am able to extend my season through spring and into summer.
I often wonder why I do it. Why punish myself for a few short runs totaling less vertical than that hiked to and from the skiing? Some might answer for the love of skiing or the passion of earning turns. But that rings hollow to me. There is something much more primal at work in this regard.
The truth is that there is no reason nor logic. There is no concrete premeditated thought process driving me to ski to the bitter end. There is something unconscious and primal pushing me towards such things. I do it because it’s there. And because I can.
More than half of Jay Peak’s guests last week were from Quebec. Whereas this weekend, more than half of Jay Peak’s guests were Killington Refuges. While not crowded, an empty chair was hard to find despite the Jet Triple running nearly ski on all day. For the second time this season, I saw a family without valid passes trying to sneak onto the lift only to be caught by RFID. And I thought it would have been the college kids getting called out.
Based on what I observed, it seems likely that Jay was operating profitably this weekend. But that is a somewhat dubious argument against Killington. As more ski areas close, it makes it easier for the limited few to make a profit due to attrition from other areas. As opposed to more competition for fewer guests spread around to more areas. But Killington could just as easily have been taking Jay’s customers rather than vice versa. Superstar is a superior late season trail and I would have been at Killington instead of Jay had the so called “Beast” ran their lifts. All that said, I was glad to be skiing lift serviced in May and glad to be doing it at Jay Peak.
Climbing into the loft Saturday night was excruciating. My fall in the Slides Saturday nearly ended my season prematurely. Despite skiing out and finishing the day, I was in pain.
Shuffling to the out house on uneven snow filled me with doubt about my first visit to Gore. My limp was pronounced as I dragged myself into the lodge and slowly got changed. To say I was not “feeling it” would be an understatement.
We boarded the Northwoods Gondola at opening bell and Harvey led the charge down Foxlair to Sunway. I was grimacing the entire way. The pain varied from throbbing to excruciating on a groomed green circle. I tried to hide my frown as we reboarded the gondola. I couldn’t bare to share with Harvey what I was thinking–this next run is going to be it. I can’t go on. Worse than the pain was the thought that I could wreck the post-lift season in a needless masochistic effort.
I thought I could handle a groomers only day. As disappointing as that would be, it was better than the alternative of driving home having only skied two runs at Gore. So we took Uncas and Topridge which further tested my resolve and pain tolerance. With each turn the pain subsided slightly; but I never completely felt in control. I was sliding along desperately trying to get the edges to bite without pressuring my right ankle. It was absurd–but I couldn’t yet push past the pain. We headed for the summit so I could at least see the rest of the mountain before crying mercy.