The Governor of Vermont declared February 13, 2017 a “Powder Day” and encouraged all out of state skiers to stay an extra day or two, to take advantage of the epic ski conditions. Hmmmm….how could I refuse an official “snow day Pardon” from the Governor? Well, I hemmed and hawed nonetheless early on Sunday afternoon about whether or not to brave the roads at my usual 3pm departure time. Words like “treacherous and terrible” and “your car slides sideways all the way” “just don’t do it” became a mantra in the gondola that day, and so I stayed.
So that is how I found myself sliding sideways on skis between trees at 3pm that day instead. I was inside a gladed trail named Kidderbrook Ravine with my Stratton ski coach, Brad Andrews, with a shit-eating big grin on my face. It was awesome!
I woke up on the morning of Feb 13th to an overwhelming sensation of soundlessness. Winter storm Orson had done its job and buried the world around me under a thick blanket of snow.
I felt conflict yet again as I made coffee and debated between the urge to get on the road and the urge to get on the trail. The back of the house held my buried car and impassable driveway. The front of the house lay the trail, so pristine in white glistening beauty as if a thick white cotton blanket had been gently laid over everything in sight.
So I got into my ski gear apprehensively and that’s when I saw, through the garage door window, the bristles of a broom hitting the roof of my Rover. I also heard the meep meep meep of a big snowplow truck moving in reverse to scoop all that snow off my driveway. My chance to ski was vanishing before my eyes.
I felt deflated as I opened the garage door to thank my caretaker for creating my path home. He gave me a wise Vermont bearded smile and told me to stay put and go ski. The roads were still a mess and would not be cleared till the afternoon. The skiing was the best we’d get all season, and maybe even for several seasons.
I was flooded with relief at his words and grabbed my skis and took off for the trail before he could say another word. He had given me permission to embrace this unique chance and I was seizing it!
Out behind the house I fell into wading my way in chest high powder to get to the Old Log Road trail. The snow was light and buttery and mesmerizing. I was breathless and in awe as I climbed up onto the trail itself at last. And it was still snowing! The anticipation was making my heart race.
As I snapped into my second ski I heard my name called out. It was my friend Karolis, a fantastic ski racing coach at Stratton. He was skiing down the trail in front of my house and stopped when he recognized me. He had already hiked to the top to get freshies (first tracks in 2 feet of powder!) and was now skiing down past my house at 8:30am.
I jumped up with joy and joined him and we skied a few gladed runs together. This was Stratton at its supreme best. Everything everywhere was skiable. The terrain on the trails was mounds and mounds of fluffy powder. And the gladed trails of Squirrel’s Nest and Why Not and Kidderbrook Ravine were beyond my comprehension.
Ski lovers had come out to quietly duck, weave and bob among rocks and trees. Locals and non locals rejoiced in making tracks where there never have been, nor ever will be, trails. Watching Karolis ski off cliffs with such finesse and mastery made me sink deeper into that powder in awe. I was witnessing greatness and I felt greater because of it. I was so grateful to just be keeping up and to be present for all of this beauty and astonishing ability.
Thank you Winter Storm Orson and thank you Karolis and Brad, for inviting me into that gladed winter wonderland during such a storm. Every trail felt like the best “out west” conditions and every wooded trail was more fresh and inviting and untouched than I’d ever seen or imagined. Each was just waiting for us to leave our mark on it. I felt giddy at seeing my beloved Stratton in such sublime.
It felt like being invited into a church full of reverent disciples on Christmas morning.
When I broke my big toe 4 days later, from merely slipping on some stairs in my socks, just before my drive back up to Stratton, I was placated over and over again by the memories of that Powder Day, as I sat on my couch and watched the skiers go past.
Ok, so Skiing over President’s Weekend 2017 wasn’t in the cards for me, but I’d had that magical Powder Day, and no one could take that away.