Avant Le Déluge: Skiing Mohonk

“What’s it like to be a local?” I asked my friend Gary, not without jealousy.  “You spend all morning running errands, you don’t get here until two and you can still ski a couple hours!”  Busy in the morning, Gary showed up at Mohonk in mid afternoon and we met up.  We skied a loop together and caught up on one another’s doings.

As today’s rain turns Friday’s snow into sodden mush, I’m remembering yesterday: a bluebird day skiing at Mohonk.

On Sunday, I kept it simple.  I prepped and brought one pair of skate skis, lunch and dry clothes.  I parked at Mohonk Mountain House’s gatehouse and set out a little before ten AM.

Except for some shaded sections, Mohonk had lost almost all of its December base.  The grooming crew could only work with Friday’s new snow, and did a fine job with the raw materials they were given.  A foot of dry snow compacted down to about three inches on the skate pad.  Depending on the trail, the grooming crew made two to five passes.

Classic skiing would have been a better choice, but I’d done that the day before in the Clyde Potts Watershed.  The skatepad was unconsolidated despite having been rolled, but my skis never hit gravel.  By contrast, my ice points punched down to the carriage roads with almost every pole plant.

By contrast, one always-challenging section of Cedar Drive was windblown, drifted and chewed up.

Setting out, I headed to Skytop.  The wind had blown away the snow on the summit.  I climbed to the top of the tower for the views – something I’ve not done before.  You could see clear to the Berkshires: I could make out Mount Greylock’s hulking massif a hundred miles away.

Returning to my car, I had an early lunch, a peanut butter and bacon sandwich with a touch of Marmite.  Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.  Then I set out for the Bonticou side.  After beating myself up skiing from the base of Spring Farm Road up to Guyot’s Hill a couple of times, my friend Gary showed up.

Conditions weren’t quite glorious, but they were very good.  While it was slow in the morning, the snow sped up as the temperature pushed into the 20s in the afternoon.  Despite the thin coverage, you were OK to bring good skis.  I’m glad I got to go, because it looks like we won’t be skiing much longer.  At least until another storm.