It was still snowing when I left Jay Peak yesterday and temperatures were forecasted to remain below freezing. So I had no reason to suspect conditions would deteriorate overnight. But I quickly discovered during my skin up Goat that the snow had been wind blasted into a crust. The snow was oreo cookie like: crust on dust on crust.
My plan was to ascend Goat and evaluate options including some combination of Poma Line, Upper Ullr’s, or JFK using Weddlemaster as a skin track back to Alligator Alley with a final descent down Green Mountain Boys (which had treated me well the day before). But the crusty snow only got worse the higher I went.
A decent sized crowd of skinners (for Jay) fanned out from Stateside Lodge. I opted for Wiggle to Hell’s Crossing to Northway for the ascent. Snow depths varied from bare ground to deep drifts. The wind clearly had its way with Jay as it usually does. Conditions appeared to favor wind sheltered areas. I was thinking about skinning to Can Am but assumed it wouldn’t ski well due to being massively exposed. I started my first descent down Upper Milk Run. If Milk Run skied well, I would skin back up and around to Can Am. If not, I’d head to “greener” pastures.
Turns were very nice on Milk Run but the snow didn’t feel like the foot and a half four day total. Following the flow of the trail, I skied the best that Milk Run had to offer. It was a solid untracked powder run but produced less excitement than anticipated. At the bottom of Upper Milk, I looked up Wiggle and down Taxi and ultimately decided on skiing down Taxi and catching the skin track up Goat.
The posts started appearing on my phone last weekend during a layover in Atlanta. As we were heading out of the country for a week, Vermont was starting to experience its best last week of October storm in ten years. Perhaps that bodes well because 2006 was a banner year for me with 22 powder days. But even that thought provided little comfort while enjoying a missed connection layover in Atlanta (thanks, Delta) on the first day of a vacation.
The second half of October is an attractive time for me to schedule tropical vacations. Hurricane season is almost over but ski season has usually not yet begun (or lifts will just be firing up upon our return). Travel prices are at their lowest point of the year and I am at my highest need of time off. Sometimes it works out well like two years ago when we flew in Logan during the first snow of the year. And sometimes, like this year, I miss several days of skiing amazing early season earned turn powder.
We got home after midnight on Thursday and I was drained from the travel. I had several errands to run on Friday (including having my snow wheels/tires installed) and then I had to work on Saturday. During Saturday, I watched from my window at work as the sky opened up and rain poured down. A quick glance at the weather suggested that no mountain and no elevation in New England would be spared the snow destroying deluge.
My favorite posts on social media involve friends sharing their passions, particularly those of an artistic, outdoorsy, athletic, or adventurous nature. Kindred spirits exploring and engaging both the world around us and ourselves, each of us doing so in our own special way. None of us able to adequately describe what drives us. But the drive needs no explanation because we share it.
Earlier this week, I wondered if it would be possible to ski more days this month than I had last month. Thankfully, I am now halfway towards that benchmark. The weather forecast didn’t seem likely to deliver enough snow for earned turns. But several online reports on Saturday suggested otherwise. The Mansfield Stake recorded 8″ up high but I also knew there would be far less down low.
Despite the warming temperatures, there was enough snow to start skinning from the base of Nosedive. I am always thankful to have my skis on the snow rather than on my back during the ascent. It felt great to be skinning again and I was anxious to ski natural snow for the first time in many months. But with only an inch of snow on top of fast grass down low, I knew that I would not be skiing top to bottom.