John Wilson 2000-2001 ski diary:

I'm writing this for my own purposes, but I'm putting it here in case it's useful to anyone. I'm a rusty intermediate skier (skiing since 1985 but not very seriously, and hardly at all since 1991) just getting back into the swing of things, so hopefully you can figure out what I mean by "hard" and "easy". I consider frequent falls to be a good thing, if you don't crash and burn regularly then you must not be pushing yourself hard enough!

Wed, Dec 27, 2000
Mt. Snow with Joe and Marianne
Driving time from Troy, NY: about 2 hours (east)

Hmm, already a fading memory (writing this Jan 6). Parked at Carinthia Lodge (farthest to the left). Pretty easy mountain, but we didn't do much/any north face stuff (I forget whether it was closed or if we just didn't bother). Lots of fun, but insanely cold that day.

Thu, Dec 28, 2000
Bromley with Joe and Marianne (Joe left early)
Driving time from Troy: a bit under 2 hours (north-east)

Seemed a bit steeper and more interesting, a bit icy but not enough to be annoying. Not many bumps. The most fun was whichever lift (on the right) starts halfway up. Hellishly cold.

Wed, Jan 03, 2001
Mad River Glen with Joe (half day due to late start)
Driving time from Troy: 3 hours (north-east)

Awesome as always. Fell and bruised hip on first run, then fell dozens more times throughout the day. That's what I love about this place, it's wicked hard, in a fun way. Lots of glades and bumps, we tried going into the woods but spent much more time trying to dig ourselves out from falls in waist-deep snow, than actually skiing. Some exposed rocks messed up the edges on my newly-tuned-up skis, and by the end of the day I was having trouble steering at all from being so tired. REALLY friendly staff, and it was cheap too! Too bad it's so far, I'd go every other day...

Sat, Jan 06, 2001
Gore (NY), alone (half day due to late start)
Driving time from Troy: 1.5 hours (north), same for both exits 23 and 25

Unsatisfying. Trails are poorly organized and getting between the lower and upper halves of the mountain involves some level and/or partially uphill trails, and once I finally got to the top it took me several runs to find a way to get back down (not well marked). Trails were more difficult than they looked, but not in a fun way, thanks to lots of ice and smooth bumps (hard to see until you hit them). Capacities are mismatched, lift lines were generally short and the slopes weren't too crowded, but parking lot was full and base lodge was crammed. On the plus side, a couple of runs were signed as "terrain parks" and had excellent jumps with easy landings. Furthest lift to the right at the base seemed like the best deal, didn't try the gondola though. Fell only once, but didn't try any of the double diamond stuff, the signs claimed that once you fall you'll slide forever and I believed them.

Sun, Jan 07, 2001
Hunter (NY), alone (short day, left early to let bruises heal)
Driving time from Troy: 1.5 hours (south-west)

Better than I expected, especially once I found my way to the back side ("Hunter West") of the mountain, which wasn't so crowded. Trail ratings were a bit inconsistent, some of the blue square stuff was harder than some of the double black diamond trails. There was a lot of ice but it was crowded so maybe the grooming just couldn't keep up, good assortment of trails anyway, and LOTS of moguls. This place is too close to New Jersey though, there was plenty of that grabby attitude and lovely speaking voice which are why I'll never move back to that fine state. Very close to Troy, although I'll bet route 23A gets interesting in bad weather. Even today (nice day), I passed some kind of mini-disaster in the twisty narrow part on the way back, lots of emergency vehicles. Major flaw: the lodge didn't sell fresh brownies, only nasty packaged ones, weird. But they had yogurt and not-too-stale pie. Anyway some of the stuff was nicely challenging, I wiped out a lot, and not just because I was tired from yesterday. Went over backwards on Annapurna but binding didn't eject, ouch. New equipment soon.

Wed, Jan 10, 2001
Bromley with Joe (half day, on purpose)

First day on my nifty new shaped skis (Head Cyber X44, 180 cm, Marker M4.2 bindings, Lange Athos 5 boots w/ custom footbeds and mod to left boot to allow for my funky weird foot -- replacing the K2 VR Comp 204 cm skis, Marker M36 bindings, and Salomon SX50 boots I've had since my first time through college in the mid 1980s). I LOVE THEM!!! They're insanely easier to steer than my old skis, which is exactly what I wanted. Joe claims I look less spastic on them too. Anyway it was a really cold day, and there was something weird with the snow making, all the trails on the east side had a thick layer of super-heavy powder on them which just kept ripping my skis off and trying to swallow me too.

Thu, Jan 11, 2001
Windham (NY), alone (night skiing)
Driving time from Troy: about 1.25 hours (south-west)

SO LAME!!! It was really no fun at all. They only had four or five trails open at night, and they were all boring. One had a few jumps, but that wasn't enough to make it fun. I didn't even fall ONCE!

Sun, Jan 14, 2001
Waterville Valley (NH) with Mike and MyTH and Amos (MyTH's dad)
Driving time from Groton MA: a bit under 2 hours (north)

Nice, but not as good as southern VT, and much farther away (from Troy). It's an easy mountain but there was some interesting stuff, and I had a much better time once I stopped worrying about getting hurt and started skiing like a maniac. I wiped out endlessly and re-bruised my left shin, which I had screwed up at Hunter and then again at Bromley, well what else is new. The quad chairlifts from the base lodge had insanely long lines, no surprise due to MLK holiday weekend, but once we got up higher there were several lifts which started midway up and had hardly any wait. The big down side was, Amos's rented skis got stolen, just as we were getting ready to leave.

Tue, Jan 16, 2001
Mad River Glen, alone
Driving time from Troy: 2:50 or 3:10 (north-east)

Excellent once again. Great snow, which was falling all day, clouds descended around lunch time and made things even more interesting up at the top. Got an early start out of Troy so it was a pretty full day. I feel as though I took a dive down a flight of stairs, I fell dozens of times (even more than last time) and forgot to stretch out afterwards. Took a lesson (first in almost 15 years) but it wasn't too informative, same stuff people have been telling me for free but I can't seem to do it. Custom foot-beds still feel great but my left boot is definitely pressing into the bulges in my funky foot, so afterwards I brought the boot back to High Anxiety (or whatever it is) for more tweaking. After less than one week it's all hacked up, guess I shouldn't ski with my skis crossed so much! Dinner at Loco's, dessert at B+J's, excellent.

I experimented with the route a little this time. On the way up I used the NY route from MRG's web site (Adirondack Northway to exit 20, NY 149 to US 4 north/east, through Rutland to VT 100 north) but it was a loss, 3 hours 10 minutes and routes 100/17 were no fun, not really plowed and I was stuck behind slow cars/trucks most of the way. On the way back I took a variant of the old TATS route and got it down to 2 hours 50 minutes -- VT 17 over to US 7 south, then just for fun I went over to my old buddy VT 30 south in Middlebury (follow sign for VT 125 west), which has much less traffic than US 7 plus it hits US 4 a bunch west of Rutland (at exit 4) which saves some mileage even if VT 30 is a slightly slower road (saw no cops though). Looking at the map, it might have been an even better deal to stay on VT 17 west all the way to VT 22A, then take that directly down to US 4 (at exit 2). But I haven't done 22A in years so I don't remember how the traffic is. Maybe next time.

Fri, Jan 19, 2001
Mad River Glen, alone
Driving time from Troy: 2.5 hours (new record!)

This will be the last entry for a while. Murphy is out to get me, I love MRG so much that today I bought a mid-week season pass (non-refundable), and then promptly broke my right shoulder in a totally spastic wipe-out off the jump under the single chair down at the bottom. So I'm out of commission for 4-6 weeks according to Dr. Athanasiou at Samaritan (yes, same guy who taught the Human Sexuality course at RPI in the late 80s). Basically I wimped out at the last second (even though I made it on an earlier attempt) and tried to dribble over the jump, but it's so steep that you catch a lot of air no matter what, and I rotated forward in the air and did an excellent face-plant when I hit. Bleeding black eye (goggles nailed me), cracked humerus (??? -- arm went over my head when I hit), and I saw lots of stars for a while there. People in the lodge saw it and thought it was great! They came out to congratulate me and offer me beer, and helped me pack up my skis. I really like the word "digger", I hadn't heard it before this season.

Well what I said about the staff at MRG all being super-nice certainly applies to the ski patrol as well, they were wonderful, they let me lie on a cot in their shack for 1-2 hours waiting for the shock to go away (I kept telling them, pallid is my normal skin color, but they were worried). Anyway eventually they stuck me in a sling and figured I was good to drive, barely (they wanted me to ride home with a friend -- like who?!), so I had fun going 120 miles back to Troy while using my left hand for everything (my car is a stick shift, and the wiper controls are on the right hand too).

But on the plus side, the first 3/4 of the day was absolutely amazing. There was some kind of magic snow falling which made me able to handle moguls much better than usual, and I fell less than a dozen times, which is negligible by my standards. Hurt my back on one of them but the spectacular swan dive totally fixed that, I'll have to remember that for next time. High Adventure's latest mod to my left boot made a huge difference, I can still feel pressure on the bulge on my foot but it didn't hurt at all even though it was still bruised from last time, excellent. The snow kept falling for a while, so, fresh powder on every run, but later it turned to sleet and my goggles kept icing up. I hadn't found Fall Line before (steep climb past the warming hut off the top of the single chair), man that was HARD! And I really like Lynx and Moody's. I actually did remember to stretch out this time, so the shoulder and shiner are the only things that hurt.

I also tried the 22A route and it's a big win, 2.5 hours (vs. 2.8 hours on VT 30/US 7) in spite of slow trucks and the fact that route 17 hadn't been plowed. I sure picked the right day (yesterday) to buy new snow tires, the fresh pair of Nokian Hak-1s on the front hardly noticed the snow in the pass (kept the ones from last year on the back since they still have about 50% tread). So from the top, here's the route: I-87 north (i.e. Adirondack Northway, which is NY Thruway exit 24) up to exit 20. NY 149 east to US 4 north (changes to east, then north again, and then east again when it enters VT -- make up your mind!). Exit 2 in VT, onto VT 22A north. Then a bit (6 miles) before Vergennes, take VT 17 east, cross US 7 and go through Bristol to MRG (which is right on the highway, parking lot on one side and mountain on the other).

On the way back I stopped at Cubber's pizza in Bristol, I forget whether this is the same pizza joint we used to hit on the way back from the old TATS trips 13+ years ago, but anyway it was outstanding. A zillion different toppings, very veggie-friendly, and you can get single slices with any topping you want. Way popular with the locals, there was a big line for people who'd phoned in orders. Then I went on to Albany and splurged at Ben & Jerry's, big sundae that I'm going to have to work off this week (somehow, what can I do now that skiing and kick-boxing are out?), before stopping by the emergency room for 3 hours of waiting around. There was a bunch of guys with Killington tickets on their jackets with today's date, clustered around an unhappy friend of theirs with his arm in a splint and gauze on his chin, same story I'll bet. One of the other guys waiting was a motorhead too so we talked about New Process (tranny company in Syracuse) etc. for a while. He was worried about getting home to hook up his plow for today, I realize now that I should have asked for his card, I'll have a hard time shoveling the driveway for a little while now.

Anyway so now I'll just hang my flashy new season pass (with the dorky photo) on the wall, and hope there's still snow on the ground when I'm all healed up.

Thu, Mar 15, 2001
Mad River Glen, alone

All right, Dr. Ablove said it's finally OK to ski again as long as I take it easy. Which I did for about 1/4 of my first run... After that I kept getting in farther and farther over my head (no wonder Paradise is so hard to get to, it was insanely hard!!!), but I still wiped out only a normal number of times. Mostly not on the bad arm though, and even then I didn't hurt it, so I think I'm back in business.

I'm going to have to hurry if I want to get my money's worth from the season pass though, since it's definitely getting too warm. The weather was absolutely fabulous, clear blue sky so you could see Lake Champlain and into the Adirondacks, as well as the Green mountains that are all around (what's that big one off to the north?). Temp was in the 40s so the snow was too sticky, good thing to keep my speed down on my first day back but it was really a lot of hard work, and it's going to get worse fast if we don't get some more winter weather soon. I was dressed too warmly, I kept removing layers but even with just a T-shirt under my jacket I had to unzip on the lift to make up for overheating on the way down. It's supposed to snow on Sunday, so maybe Monday would be a good day to ski.

Tue, Mar 20, 2001
Mad River Glen, alone

Snow never happened Sunday but I figured I'd better go even if the conditions were bad. Well it could be worse but the moguls are definitely starting to look like every other ski area, bare and hard with a bunch of too-soft snow sitting on top of each one. But it's paid for so what the heck, and other than being a little soggy and too slow, it wasn't so bad. At least it's not the re-hacked "loose granular" ice that all the local ski areas' web sites are admitting to around here. It's supposed to snow later this week so maybe things will get better.

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