Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Case For Spring Skiing

Seems like we should have bought stock in hand and toe warmers this past winter. But now we're
ready to swap the neck gaiters and balaclavas for sunscreen and sunglasses.

Spring skiing is absolutely the best time of year on the slopes. I know this is a hard sell for many - we've lived through a cold and snowy winter and even I am ready for a change. People have bikes and hikes and golf on the mind. But why not go spring skiing or riding, while we have all this great snow on the ground?  Nearly 80 percent of Bretton Woods' terrain is still open.  

Sure, I start thinking about skiing in the fall, and by Thanksgiving I'm chomping at the bit to hit the one or two slopes that have some man-made snow. Even by Christmastime we often don't have every trail open and we're hoping and praying that the snow gods will bless us with some of that white gold.  Now here we are in April and there's more terrain open than we had in December.  Spring fever is here and we are all eager to get outside.  But why forsake skiing and riding when it is just getting so good?

We paid our dues in January, bundling up like the Michelin Man with layer after layer of fleece and down until we could barely recognize who we were skiing with.  We came inside and took frequent breaks to warm up, and we bought lots and lots of hand and toe warmers.  Now, we can unbundle and enjoy soaking in some vitamin D and working on our goggle tans.

Although it warms up considerably during the day this time of year, it's still cold at night, which means the snow hardens up.  We stick to the groomers in the morning, where the snow has been buffed up and the corduroy is soft and inviting.  This is the time of year when my strict preference for arriving for first tracks falls away.  The ungroomed stuff may take some time in the sun to soften up.  Once it does, anything that is open is fair game.

Think you don't like skiing moguls, those bumps that are created when skiers curve turns and the snow piles up into bumps? Try some soft spring bumps.  The forgiving snow allows you to practically float from side to side, and the rhythmic slide from bump to bump is one of the best feelings a skiers knows.

Mashed potatoes and corn are served up with a smile in the the spring.  No, not in the base lodge cafeteria, but out on the hill. The big pellets of snow that are formed after a warm up and then freeze make for fun sliding.  As the snow bakes the corn snow during the day, it often turns to the consistency of mashed potatoes.  We also call it hero snow, because you don't have to lay into the turn to make your ski grab like you do in firmer conditions - every turn makes you feel like a hero.  The kids had a few tumbles in the mashed potatoes - it does take some effort to push through the big piles,  but they are learning to instinctively read the snow conditions and adjust their ski pressure accordingly.

It's also a great time of year to ski if you are looking to save a few bucks.  Through the end of the season, every lift ticket, every day of the week, is $29.  And if you think the skiing bug has bit you for good, you can buy next year's season pass and ski the rest of this year for free

The Stickney Cabin hosted a barbecue for its end of season bash last weekend, and you can be sure we enjoyed some burgers and dogs before the marshmallow roasting commenced.

Our friend and trusted ski instructor Susan brought her three-year-old daughter out to the cabin for the first time, and she had a blast.  She cruised right up the T-bar without batting an eye, and after lunch followed Timmy fearlessly into the glades.  As I've said before, there's something about the kid posse that makes everything fun.

Don't worry, your bicycle and your golf clubs will still be waiting for you when the season ends, and unfortunately, it's going to end all too quickly.  We are going to savor every moment.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Fresh Air, Family and Fun

One of our favorite things to do is share all of the fun we have in the winter with family and friends. A few weeks ago we got to share some of our favorite winter activities, cross-country skiing and tubing, with the kids' grandparents. If you are looking for some truly affordable fun with little or no learning curve, here's your answer. Fresh air, exercise, and time with family was exactly what we needed to remind us just how lucky we are to have this winter playground. 
I loved to see their thrilled smiles as they plummeted down the tubing slope. 

For the grand finale, both kids slid down with Outdoor Dad. All that weight put together gave them a lot of momentum to fly down the hill!
Before tubing, we did a short loop around the perimeter trail with the kids' grandparents. 
Timmy was so excited to have real cross-country ski equipment for the first time.  We had bought skis, boots, bindings and poles for big sister Bridget last year, but now Timmy wanted more than just the plastic skis that strapped on to his boots. So we gave Him Bridget's gear from last year and rented her a setup for the day. 
Timmy was thrilled to have poles, too!
And sometimes, you just have to go slow, enjoy the fresh air, and let the little guy lead at his own pace. 
Sometimes I have to fight back that instinct to get somewhere quickly and just appreciate the fact that we are outside, together, getting some exercise, and enjoying each other's company. We watched for wildlife and saw rabbit tracks in the snow. Timmy started to get the feel for the different balance you need on Nordic skis compared to alpine. And when we did want to get somewhere, there was always the siren call of hot chocolate waiting for us in the lodge.