Sorry, can’t help it. Looked at Huey’s blog Hooray! It’s Spring! and all I could see was the Schoolhouse Rock sketch on interjections. Yow! It’s not fair, giving a guy a shot down there! Hooray, I’m for the other team. Hooray, it’s spring.
Last Friday, the ski hill was frozen hard as a rock.
Last Saturday, conditions were blindingly perfect.
Last Monday, it was spring conditions all the way, nice soft snow going to sticky glue as the day warmed up.
And then we had a week of catastrophically warm temperatures.
Today, there were thunderstorms moving in and to add to the excitement, the mountain was making its own fog. Roy’s new skis came in this week (K2 AMP Force) and he really wanted to try them out. I really wanted another ride on my Kung Fujas. And so off to the hill we went, arriving in time for the first lift run up to the summit. The place was already hopping, though, thanks to an extended celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. Plenty of others, including the six speed-demons we followed up to West Dover from Greenfield, arrived early for Green Eggs and Kegs. No, I didn’t. Life is uncertain enough without loading up on beer at 8am before hitting the fog enshrouded spring skiing.
And this wasn’t just a fog. This was a FOG. No, it was a FOG.
This was a Pea Soup Fog. This was a fog that Maine Lobstermen and Gloucester fishing boats would recognize. This was a Fog for Arkham, Dunwich, and Innsmouth.
We watched the lift chairs vanish silently into the enshrouding mist, and took our place there. As we were lofted up into the clouds, Roy observed that the surface under the lift did not “look good”. I regarded – through a veil of fog – themany completely bare spots on the ground, and agreed. There didn’t seem to be anything else to say.
As we climbed, the fog grew even denser. Eventually, it became impossible to see the surface from the lift. Lift towers loomed at us out of the white, and vanished silently behind. The visibility was so poor that I grew concerned that we wouldn’t see the upper lift terminal until it was too late to get out of the chair. Fortunately, the fog cleared slightly at the summit, and we set out on our run.
I’d like to say they were awesome spring conditions, but they weren’t. Even at 9am, it was slush, all the way down. Roy found it challenging to navigate this stuff – no wonder, with all-mountain skis on – and sent me along so that he wouldn’t be distracted by an audience. I obliged, and dropped in on Ridge.
Now, Ridge is one of the more fun blue runs on the hill. It’s not an easy blue. Not, probably, the most difficult blue, but it’s close. It’s a nice wide rolling blue, and it’s got some pretty great drops here and there. I think the pitch on the biggest drop is between 30-40 degrees. You can see it on this video, at about 1:40. It doesn’t look very steep on the video…until you realize that the camera is pointed straight down the slope. Pay attention to the horizon line, you’ll see then.
So, when Roy politely requested that I take my Watchful Eyes away from his Experience, this is where I went.
In a fog so dense and thick I couldn’t see ten feet in any direction, and at points, I couldn’t even see the ground. As they say in Texas, where I’m from, “No Shit, There I Was”. Cruising down a rolling blue with drops in 6 inches of slushy loose granular snow the consistency of a half-melted snocone, and a fog so thick I can only occasionally see my own feet.
I’m assuming that because we were among the first thirty up the hill there isn’t anyone poking along or sitting on the hill downslope. I can’t see any of those trees. The only thing I can see of the surface is that there are soon – very soon – soon-to-be-bare spots. And some actual bare spots, and one of the several Last Things I want to do at this moment is drive my brand new skis across a patch of dirt and rocks in the middle of a turn down a mushy slick slope.
Yuk! (How is that for an Interjection?)
I’m buzzing along, not at all happy because I’m basically skiing blind, only blind skiers would have someone around who can see who is calling out things like “Left!” “Right!” “Drop!” “Tree!”
And, as I’m doing this, I’m thinking about the fat little drop I mentioned above, and thinking that this is really not going to be Any Fun At All if I hit that thing at speed and it’s bare, or icy, on the backside, and I won’t be able to prepare for any of that, and the chances of an injury are rising precipitously. That’s a pun, precipitous? Get it? Hahahaha.
So I say to myself, “Self” I say, “Perhaps it would be a good idea to stop here, and proceed very cautiously so I don’t find myself getting dumped when I hit that drop. Besides, if I blow a binding, it will take forever tolocate my ski.”
So I stopped. The slush complicated this a bit and made my stop rather less prompt and snappy than I’m accustomed to happening. So I said to myself “Self,” I said. “You cannot let this fog get into your head. That was the lamest hockey stop ever, you must have skidded along for a good three feet. You need to be making better use of those edges.”
And having resolved to focus more on my technique, and less on how freaky it was to ski blind, I peered around in the hopes that some landmark would come swimming out of the mist and let me locate myself on this run.
With a moment of sheer good fortune, the tiniest breeze arose, and blew the fog around just enough that I could see where I was.
And I realized at once that there hadn’t been anything at all wrong with my skiing. Not one thing.
Because I wasn’t above the drop. I was on the drop. I’d skied down most of it, without even realizing I was on the drop at all, and managed to bring myself to a complete halt right after the steepest part of the pitch. No wonder it took me a few feet to stop.
I uttered a couple of Interjections.
Wow! I just skied an intense blue, completely blind! And I hardly noticed it! Wow!
Yow! I’m skiing completely blind, and so will the St. Patty’s Day Drunks when they empty out of the Eggs and Kegs! I better get off this hill before someone kills me!
Hey! Since I can’t ski the main face in safety, this would be a great time to teach myself to ski switch!
That’s skiing backward, for reference.
So, yeah, the safer alternative was to go to the bunny slope, a place that is absolutely littered with skiers who don’t know how to ski yet, in the fog, and spend an hour attempting to ski backwards. I almost got the hang of it a couple of times, too. Or, as I said, when Roy told me later how difficult the going was and how crappy his skiing was, “I fell down five times today. On the bunny hill.”
“Yeah,” he said, “but you were teaching yourself how to do a trick.”
Fortunately, it started raining like crazy before I could do any damage on the slope. If we don’t get another snowstorm, soon, I think that the ski season will be ending in the next two weeks. The forecasts don’t look promising, either. It’s enough to make me want to utter some more interjections.
Hey! That’s not fair! We just got here!
Aw! I’m not ready to pack up my skis and go home for eight months!
Rats! I want another six weeks of winter like the rodent promised!
Darn! that’s the end.