Two weeks ago, I was sure that buying new snow tires had totally jinxed winter in the northeast. No longer – at least for a few days.
Back in the day, my wife and I travelled to ski almost every weekend during the winter. And we expected that one of our travel days each trip would be during a snowstorm. In those heady days, we could even day trip, work permitting, to Lapland Lake or Prospect Mountain in November or early December. We were rewarded with decent early season conditions. But things have changed with global warming.
When I was 25, my friends and I would pile into Andrew’s ’66
Land Shark Dodge Polaris and drive up the Thruway to New Paltz, NY. All the way north, the ground would be bare. But we had dogged faith that Lake Minnewaska, perched 1600 feet above sea level, would have snow. Now, more often than not, we faith that Prospect or Notchview, or somewhere even further north will be open.
Abnormally warm, dry winters have blown away eastside early season ski options. Unless you’re close to one of the ski centers that make snow. And from where I live, it’s crazed to drive 400 miles to Craftsbury to ski on a 1250 meter loop of manmade. Not that I haven’t considered it.
After sweating bullets that they would even be open, we drove to Prospect Mountain. On the day after Christmas, there were maybe 10 thinly covered, bumpy kilometers.
The next morning in two feet of snow, the Subie got stuck in Prospect’s entrance. After getting unstuck, we chilled out in Bennington for an hour and went back for a second try. Success! Soft, but awesome conditions.
For the next few days, we had total midwinter conditions for the early season training camp. We got in some big hours, saw a lot of our old winter friends, and I knocked off a classic time trial. This year, Laurel expanded her range. She skied trails that she’d not been on before. Ellen took a trip up the Mountain Trail.
An added benefit of all that snow was, believe it or not, slow conditions. Sharp new crystals of snow, dragging the ski, are an incredible confidence booster for getting your child down technical downhill turns like the hairpin on the Beaver Pond loop, or the tuck-and-go of Chickadee. Laurel cleaned both hills with aplomb, making her dad proud.
On Saturday, it snowed all day, including about 30 minutes of near whiteout. We skied three hours and drove home with bad weather for company all the way. I dug out the driveway in the dark. All in a day’s work.
The day after we got home, I managed a late afternoon ski in the Clyde Potts Watershed section of the Randolph municipal trail system. Six inches of dry powder compacted down to about two inches of powder over ice. Although this is a banal running venue, it totally delivered for skiing. There’s even enough elevation change to get in some pickups. There are side trails I didn’t get to check out, but I’ll be back.