I think I’ve waited long enough. It’s Feb. 27, and I’m declaring a case of spring fever. The sun is strong, the town is dusty, and I’ve stopped wearing Sorels to work. It’s okay to start dreaming about T-shirt skiing and pond skimming, right? And today is the perfect dose for my affliction.
The early morning sun made the aspens shine silver and gold and the snow shone something inexplicable beneath my first ride up Sundown. From across the valley on Huffman’s I had seen a solitary ski patroler slicing up a perfectly groomed Rolex, and I had set out to do the same. Rising from the Priest Creek valley, I could feel that it would be one of those days that I couldn’t stop grinning.
At Sunshine Peak, I turned southeast to High Noon, directly bathed in the sunrise and sporting pinstripes all the way down, and I did some speedy carving toward South Peak. People were sparse, and the run was flawless. At the very bottom of Spike, I tried the trees for just a turn or two and found them, predictably, not quite defrosted but worthy in beauty of an Albert Bierstadt painting. The lift-op looked springy too, working glove-less in a T-shirt.
Rolex was exactly what I hoped for and thoroughly worth the trip, I even stopped to tighten my boots at the top so that I could get the most out of the run. It’s great to have groomed steeps like Rolex, West Side, Valley View and Concentration so accessible all over the mountain. One can always find a challenge or at least something to brag about. I had a painless, worry-free crash right near the bottom of the run that made me feel like I was really pushing it like I should.
Up Sundown again and over to carve up Storm Peak Face, to Rainbow, to Vagabond, to Lower Concentration. While skiing Why Not in between those runs, I remembered how fun trail-side whoop-dee-doos are on sunny days like this. The mountain is covered in all degrees of bumps and jumps that anyone can find if they stay on the lookout.
Last weekend my mother admitted to me that she often gets so caught up in the scenery of our National Forest that she skews her reports of the day’s conditions. When I asked her last weekend if our favorite family powder stash was any good, she became lost in a dreamy monologue about pine trees in the wintertime and the silent glory of forest. Beautiful though it was when I skied there a short time later, it was obvious that she had done little to illustrate the snow conditions. Although that nature-drunk affliction does seem to be genetic, I promise that today will be just as fun as it is sunny.
Sharpen your edges, apply some sunscreen and dress in layers; it’s going to be a sunny day on the slopes!
Willow Fitzgerald, Telemark skier