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.
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.
Three runs and done at Smuggs. That was not due to the conditions or injury, but rather fatigue. Coming off twelve days in a row of work averaging 12 hours per day, I took Saturday off from skiing to recover despite the recent storm and epic reports from the notch. I assumed one day of doing nothing was enough for recovery, but it definitely was not.
I got right to work at Smuggs and delved into a line I suspected existed but had not yet discovered. Discovering new lines is always a treat, especially at areas that you have mostly mapped out. But you never want to be in discovery mode, especially at Smuggs, with anything less than your ‘A’ game. I hacked my way down the line looking rather amateurish. But I felt that the turns were not there so I decided not to force it.
Given my lack of energy, I opted for something a bit more mellow for my next run. I found some boot deep untracked despite skiing two days after the storm. This was a very well known woods area but the line goes against the fall line and requires counter intuitive thinking. Always a late-day-go-to but two days after the storm during a weekend is exceptional. It was only a half dozen untracked turns but far more than I expected.
Conditions in general were wicked firm and fast on the groomers despite the recent storm. The groomers had massive wind buff and felt like skiing an early season WROD. So suffice it to say, I stuck to the trees as is my wont.
Despite my fatigue, I couldn’t resist skiing off the backside of Sterling into the Notch. My line choice was suspect given my condition, but I couldn’t resist dropping into a creek bed that I haven’t skied in a few years. The snow was phenomenal and my turns were acceptable if forced. But by the time I got down to 108, I knew I was spent.
It is never good to spend more time driving round trip than skiing. But it is best to call it a day when your turns get sloppy and your energy is lacking. It was a disappointing end to two exceedingly long and difficult weeks. But the worst of my work is done for the winter and I have two weeks of use it or lose it vacation to burn. The season is just getting started as far as I am concerned.
Today was the tenth day and first powder day of my season. During an average season, I would have had at least that many powder days and more than double that many total days by the end of February. But this is not an average season. And today was not an average powder day.
I was only expecting a few inches, just enough to soften things up. But instead, Jay got coated in eight amazing inches. The dense snow felt bottomless even though I knew it wasn’t. I thought I might go an entire season without a powder day. But I finally got one. Perhaps my only one of the entire season.
Powder days have been so exceedingly rare this season that you might ask for pics or not believe that it happened. It did happen but I can’t prove it. After booting up, I looked at the zipped top pocket of my bag where I store my camera. And then I looked away and started walking towards the door.
I was sitting on the Jet having singled up with a father and his son. They were talking most of the ride about skiing. But then the father pulled out his phone and started typing. His son desperately tried to get his attention but the father continually asked for, no, insisted on silence so he could futz around with his device. He was out of the moment, momentarily oblivious to his surroundings, intentionally unaware of what deserved his full attention.
Today wasn’t about documenting and reporting. It wasn’t about trying to capture the conditions or available lines in ones and zeros. Today was about skiing hard, being in the moment, and treasuring each untracked turn. Every fucking one of them. I didn’t need a picture to remember today. How could I ever forget?
Jay just became the first major resort in the northeastern United States to be fully open this season. During the last week of February. With a rain event incoming later this week, this could very well be the high water mark for the region this season.
Conditions were packed powder with stunningly good (for Jay) groomed surfaces. I bypassed the woods on my first run from the Bonnie to rip Northway with near edge to edge perfect carves, a rare treat for any Jay Peak skier. But the reason I drove to Jay was to ski the trees, terrain that few other areas have available (particularly the off map variety).