Published DateBy Marty Basch
What a sweet week it was — one where gravity research was essential.
It was so good that locals even skied on the weekend alongside savvy visitors from away smart ahead to head north in advance of the Blizzard of 2013. The perfect nor'easter for the valley's slopes and trails ensured a return to winter following the January thaws.
Saturday morning was bliss at Cranmore, as most skiers and riders from Massachusetts were probably home shoveling.
On the quad to watch as the lights were turned off in an erie fog, powder hounds were chomping at the bit to plunge down groomed and untracked light and airy snow. It was a day for skiers and snowboarders to float, to at first plummet down the virgin pathways and later hug the edges. The wind blew, sometimes hard, filling back in what had been skied off.
Koessler was left untouched by machine, a place to make your own figure 8's using lines made by strangers yet brothers and sisters in snow. Rattlesnake was amazing with its early twists while Middle to North Slope was sublime, particularly skier's left on North near the rope by the race course, a fine place to find sweet and soft groomed terrain.
It was a time when romping through the woods was easier than walking in clunky boots outside the base area with its sinking snow. Hoots and holler emerged from the glades, the ropes a mere suggestion on that glorious and rare powder day. Skiing in the morning before it got bumped up was the mantra for the day, and also the next.
Sunday at Shawnee Peak was pure powder. Sure, they groomed about seventy-five percent of the terrain, but those groomers were so soft to the touch. The East Side and Sunnyside Triple were beacons. There was plenty of windswept snow on trails the groomers left alone and lots of neat boulevards too. The woods still had bounties to be found. The steeps of Wizard were left alone while Mohawk was all corduroy. Narrow Upper Appalachian and Yee-haw were delights.
With plenty of morning sunshine the views out to the Presidentials, Moose Pond and Lovewell Pond were as outstanding as they have ever been. It's easy to needle Shawnee about not have a high speed detachable lift but as the hours progressed, it was nice to rest a bit on those fixed grips.
Tuesday my snow goddess Jan Duprey and I headed to Sunday River following that three inch dusting Monday. Wide, groomed boulevards greeted us, soft to the touch. We made it to the Barker Mountain Express outside Barker Lodge and stood in line five minutes before the lift opened.
Each mountain was its own micro-climate, the Barker sun turning to wet flurries by the time we reached Jordan Bowl and its cruisers — fast Lollapaolooza, and the rollers on Rogue Angel and to a lesser extent on Excalibur.
Locke Mountain's Sunday Punch and Cascades didn't disappoint while the Tom Cruise trails on Barker — Top Gun and Right Stuff —a lways are fine trails for some action.
Though the wind picked up as the sky grew grayer and a front passed, the snow was initially silky, later in the afternoon becoming a bit chalky. Still, there weren't any crowds and we probably experienced the most elbow room ever at the River, the proverbial calm before the vacation week storm of people.
On Wednesday, milder temperatures prevailed as we got about a 10 a.m. start at Attitash sticking to Bear Peak and its noble packed powder groomers. Like Sunday River, there was plenty of white space as we cruised Wandering Skis, Morning Star and Snow Dancer to start off the Flying Bear. Enjoyed that little curl the groomers left on Morning Star where skiers and riders wait after making the initial plunge.
Narrow Kachina Falls and Avenger held form longer than usual while playful Trillium and Moonbeam were worth the pushes both times to get there.
Portions of Bear Peak's been transformed into freestyle heaven with Abenaki Park. The park is twofold, with features on Lower Mythmaker and Lower Kachina. Immaculately groomed, the parks also have wide enough lanes on the sides for those wishing to avoid the rails and jumps. With no one around, we went over many of the jumps getting a newfound appreciation for those skiers and snowboarders able to make their tricks look easy.
Yup, it was one sweet week, one to remember, especially in advance of the upcoming vacation.