Monday, March 23
When I passed Robber's Roost the horizon began to darken. Seven straight days of fun in the sun came to an end in the space of fifteen minutes. By the time I had checked in the skys were dark gray, the wind was blowing and it was starting to get cold . I was back in Winter Park and it seemed like a different world.
The morning brought about three inches of fresh and temps in the low twenties. Pits that had been enjoying a constant breeze for a month were zipped up tight. This was balaclava weather.
Hey looky, it's snowing in the C lot!
Really though, I didn't expect much out of this day. It was too cold and there wasn't enough fresh to mellow the harsh bumps and frozen slush ruts. I was pretty much planning to get on my SLs and make it a groomer day. Pretty much that is, unless I ran into Bill and Dave, my MJ friends. Their mission is to ski every run top to bottom everyday for as long as they see fit. That could be a couple of hours or it could be bell to bell.
Pulled into the C lot about 10 and snagged a perimeter spot two cars down from Bill. As I finish buckling my second boot I see him and Dave on the run out and wave them over. Thirty seconds later I open my pod and pull out the Cabrawlers. Bill says the conditions are heinous but ya know, there's snow that's good and there's snow that's good for you.
Yeah, it was challenging. I wouldn't say I was skiing it real well but I had my moments and I was making it down the hill at a decent pace.
After a couple of hours of touring the Jane we stopped to let the dogs out and B & D decided they were calling it a day. At that point I thought I would revert to plan A so I swapped to my SLs.
As I skated over to C chair the snow began to fall in earnest. The temps had risen and the snow had a fairly high moisture content. My plan was to zoom down Sleeper so that if I decided to change out skis or gloves or something I could just zip down to the car, make the change and then go over to the Park side for a full compliment of groomed slopes.
After about three turns on Sleeper it was apparent that the surface had changed dramatically. The warming trend had softened the base and the wetter snow had filled in the ruts and some sort of alchemical reaction had taken place. This surface was slippery and way grippy. Big fun on these little skis. The trees and the bumps were sounding their siren song even louder than James Brown's stylings on The Big Payback.
Now the bases of my SLs were in pristine condition. I hadn't encountered too many rocks (I'd say MJ had much better coverage than any of the Summit or Eagle county spots I had been to on this trip) but I knew they were out there. Did I really want to take my SLs into that? I remember long ago reading a story in Car and Driver where the author drove a Ferrari 512 BB across the country. He wrote that he had to make a choice between spending the trip as a slave to the radar detector or just say f*** it, drive the car as it was meant to be driven and pay any citations that might come his way.
So into the trees I went. The snow was even better there and these skis were amazing in it. I was like Sierra Jim on the Rossi S7s (IIRC) hitting gaps between trees that previously had just seems too tight to consider.
This was so much fun I went to my fave bump testing ground, Trestle. Trestle is a fairly long bump run with a huge variety of pitches and fall lines both single and double. At some point on Trestle you'll find just about any shape and size bump you could imagine.
Well shoot, this was like a whole different kind of skiing. On the flatter pitches I was carving around every bump straight down the hill. There's a section where the bumps form kind of a lateral stair case and I was flying off the top of each bump and taking the stairs down two steps at a time. On the steeper sections I could throw my CoM at the tips and feel the ski bend as the whole of my weight was suspended on the grippy little platforms under the little bit of contact area of the little tiny skis. I had felt a sensation kind of like this on the groomers of Mt. Holly but this was on big steep MJ bumps. I felt like I was inventing a new way to ski.
I skied for the rest of the day in these sublime conditions alternating tree runs and bump runs. I hit Golden Spike, Sterling Way, Drunken Frenchman and Trestle a couple more times. I also hit Trestle trees, Sterling trees, Pine Cliffs, Super Guage trees, Pony trees and Pony lift line.
This will go down as one of the best afternoons of the season.... at least.
Well, maybe there wasn't quite enough snow in the parking lot for that last turn of the day, but ya know, that writer in the Ferrari finished his trip uncited. The Blizzards and I did very nearly as well.