Thursday, March 08, 2007

Chasin' part II

I keep thinking my ski season is finished, and keep gettin' surprised. Yesterday was a sweet Alberta Clipper type storm. None of that Gulf moisture, or rain/sleet crap to worry about. Just light, dry, cold, blower snow. Perfect also in that in snowed in PA and not much in VA, so I didn't have to pull snow duty and be tied to the computer, or stay up all night.

Kim worked only a 1/2 day, so as soon as she got home, I was out the door with 3 sets of skis, and 3 pair of boots in the car. Not sure where I'd end up, so I took the lightweight gear, the medium, and the resort setup. One thing I've been trying to do this winter is check out many fairly close places to xc/backcountry ski, and try to figure them out, so when it snows next year, I'll know right where to go and when. I've checked out Sideling Hill, Laurel Ridge, Laurel Mountain, Blue Knob, and Cowans Gap.

First stop was Sideling Hill for a short x-c loop to check out some more terrain there. The snow was deep and good, but the old ice base was gone, and I often broke through to bare ground. I did an hour and a half loop there, and would soon wish I'd gotten out of there sooner.

Drove out to Blue Knob from there to either ski the State Park, or the lift resort. Since I was pretty worn out from Sideling, I went for the lifts (and the $22 ticket - Nice!).

Now I wished I'd gotten to Blue Knob sooner. Nice, cold deep powder everywhere, hardly anyone here. I've only skied Blue Knob twice, once was my 2nd day on skis way back in 1980, and the other was an unremarkable day on a snowboard sometime mid-90s. Now, I'm learning, this place is cool! Low budget all the way. No grooming, natural snow only on the good terrain, lots of trees and out of bounds. Hell, they even call it "out of bounds", rather than "closed". Is this a little like a PA version of Mad River Glen? It's a very interesting ski mountain. Lots of traverses, and tree runs in unexpected places. I arrived there with about an hour and a half of daylight and explored what I could before the lights came on. I saw tracks heading away from the Bowl and followed them. The tracks soon became boot prints from snowboarders. I could tell that this place is not kind to snowboarders, lots of traversing is necessary to get to the interesting terrain. These boot prints were going pretty far, and I figured that anything that snowboarders would hike this far for, ought to be good. It led to a nice, fast, long, narrow powder run down what was probably a fireroad, which dumped out slightly below and near the lift.

I spent the rest of evening skiing the poofy bumps, with patches of ice lurking. I skied Stembogan and some others, and actually skied bumps more aggressively than I ever have before. Even making some jump turns and really committing hard to the landings on ice. I was skiing them really fast though, cuz they weren't huge bumps (like the ones under the lifts), more like obstacles in a powder field. I still think I need to learn how to ski moguls at a much slower speed, and really bite a hard edge with each turn to check my speed. At least this is the way I watch the good bump skiers at Whitetail do it.

I skied for a few hours, then I thought I'd take one more run. Well, I ended up taking about 8 last runs, because it was so fun, I couldn't see any reason to go home, other than my legs burning on each run. Maybe something about the upside-down resort, where you park at the top instead of the bottom? And at Blue Knob, you can ski either the bottom half, or the top half of the mountain, and last night there was fun powder to be had from either. I reeallly want to get back to that place again! And I mean soon.

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