Or at least until his top hat, carrot nose, and scarf are resting on dry ground. This time of year, a lot of folks are marking the days since the Groundhog made his prognostications up on Gobbler’s Knob. The time change comes, you start to get a temperature and weather break and people are getting spring fever big time. Now, I don’t want to burst the bubble of enthusiasm for spring(John Hinderliter), but there is still some fun to be had in the waning weeks of winter.
Spring skiing is one of the most fun times of the year in opposition to the suffering that we do in the deep winter with cold temperatures, arctic winds, and variable conditions that define the skiing experience. The temperature starts to get warmer, the snow is softer and more consistent, the sun shines on your face and you get that feeling that winter is really not that bad especially this time of the year. You have paid your dues so why not reap some of the benefit with some great spring skiing? Most ski areas have carnivals where you can see skiers and boarders merrily skiing over ponds with costumes and when they don’t quite make it to the other end, the result is a humorous roar of approval from the crowd. The beer flows,the grills in the parking lots are full of brats, burgers, chicken and the like. The party atmosphere is assisted by the sunny weather and it is a fitting end to a great season of winter fun.
There are classic spring skiing venues like Tuckerman Ravine in New Hampshire where the rite of passage can be climbing with an 80 pound pack on your back loaded down with skis, boots, sleeping bags and pads. The rite continues with climbing up the Headwall and skiing the classic routes of the Ravine like the Left Gully, the Left Chute, Dodge’s Drop, and others with spills and thrills to the delight of the beer drinking crowd at Lunch Rocks. The parking lot at A-Basin in Colorado is another late skiing Mecca with the sun worshiping, grilling and party atmosphere that can continue into late spring. The mogul skiing challenge at Bear Mountain at Killingon,Vermont has been revived over the last couple of seasons with a good observation point at the Bear Mountain base lodge. This season can go into May and “The Beast” is a warm weather home to all of those rabid New York skiers who want to extend their season as long as possible. The Yankees can wait – ski the Beast! Every ski area has springtime activities which augment the extension of the ski season. Whether you ski the east or ski the west, or the central part of the country, don’t put the boards away just yet. Let me make my case.
Would you rather take out your golf clubs, go to the course, walk around in the mud up to your ankles, lose a bunch of golf balls due to plugging even when they are high visibility orange or yellow………….or would you like to ski on soft snow in the sunshine with windpants, and a sweatshirt? Would you rather take out your mountain bike and trash the muddy trails, cover yourself and your bike with splooge and ruin your components so that you spend the rest of the day replacing parts and cleaning the bike…………..or would you like to ride up a warm chairlift with a tanned significant other or new found friend? Would you rather go to a lake or a stream with your fishing gear and freeze in the early morning sitting on your can and dealing with frozen bait and the occasional bite of a wayward trout……………or would you stop for a quick brat sandwich and a cold beer after a great day of skiing on groomed granular in the sunshine? Even if it rains, the snow is good as long as you can don the Gore Tex and keep dry.
From my perspective, the last turn of the year is depressing. As much as I like to ride a bike, hike and enjoy the changing of the seasons, that last turn reminds me that I will not be skiing again for at least another 7 months. As I get older, I really value the seasons and the fun that you can have. The ski season is no exception and I mark the passing of the time with happiness and great memories but also with a bit of forlorn in that another season is in the books. There is still some time left to enjoy, and as the noted ski film maker Warren Miller always says,” If you don’t do it this year, you will be a year older when you do.” Carpe Deium folks. The summer activities will come soon enough. Wait until the snowman sings his final song. Thanks for reading.