Although we headed out to the mountain yesterday to check out the powder from the recent storm, we really didn’t get to explore all the areas that we’d wanted to hit. The frigid weather had the snow feeling a bit slow, and the boys got cold pretty quickly in the single digit temperatures and wind. With the warmer weather today though, we headed back out this afternoon for more exploration. One of the problems yesterday was that E and the boys hung around outside and waited while I parked the car, headed into the lodge, changed into my gear, etc.; that didn’t really help them in terms of staying warm. Today however, they decided to hit the slopes and take a run while I got ready. They typically use the Snowflake Lift for these types of shorter runs, but since Snowflake isn’t in operation yet, they took a run off the Mid Mountain Lift. They decided to take a trip through The Enchanted Forest – it looked like it had a lot of snow when we looked at it yesterday, and today we saw that the mountain had decided to open it up. After their run, when I caught up with E and the boys at the base of the lift, E gave me the update on the conditions there. Although it was certainly skiable, it was probably best earlier in the morning before it had seen much traffic. Fortunately rocks weren’t really an issue, but E said that areas of grass were coming through and there was enough navigating around them that it wasn’t really worth doing again – we’d likely be able to find better snow elsewhere.
With those observations in hand, we got ourselves over to Wilderness to catch up on some of that exploration on our agenda. We checked out the Wilderness Lift Line in the area below the Wilderness Mid Station, but with the way the wind had hit it, it didn’t look all that appealing, so we decided to continue on over to Cougar where there’s a bit more protection from the wind. The Cougar Headwall had a few tracks on it, and there were actually a couple other groups of skiers hitting it up while we were there. The best powder pockets were off to the sides, and especially the skier’s left where the wind had been minimal and any wind slab was reduced in thickness.
Things actually got even better when we dropped down onto Lower Turnpike. The pitch was less, but that meant that terrain could support a lot more traffic. There had maybe been a dozen skiers on it before us, and spending some time in the tracked areas was actually quite useful if the pitch mellowed too much for the amount of powder available. And the powder was very good – we found ourselves in 8 to 12 inches of medium weight powder over a nicely consolidated base. A few water bars still had to be approached cautiously, and optimal crossing points chosen, but between the base and all the new powder from the past two storms, coverage was more than sufficient. Near the top of the run, a group of kids had built a backcountry kicker and they looked like they were having a good session. We did some photography of our own skiing, although it was actually getting difficult because it was later in the day and the light was fading. All in all though it was a beautifully long run filled with powder that more than made up for what we’d skipped yesterday.
By the time we hit the bottom of Lower Turnpike it was getting dark enough that the lights were coming on for night skiing, but we weighed our options for more skiing with the boys as we shuffled back from the bottom of the Wilderness lift toward the base lodge. Dylan said he didn’t really feel like doing another run, while Ty was pococurante and said he could go either way. We decided to split the difference and do a quick run off the Mid Mountain Lift – we were in part excited that it was a chance for Mom to catch a run under the lights. It had been a while since she’d been out for an evening session, and we had so much fun under the lights last Friday that we wanted another taste. Since the mountain had recently opened Beech Seal for the season, we decided to have a go at it. We’d watched them making snow on it yesterday, and at times it had looked like they were basically just spraying water on it while they adjusted the guns, but it looked quite nice now that the snowmaking whales had been smoothed out by the groomers. We had a nice run, and with the increased pitch relative to Bear Run it was a good change of pace. E really enjoyed it and commented on how easy it was to ski it now on her Telemark skis, when at one point early on in her Telemark career it had been the bane of her existence.
That run was enough to satiate us after that long Wilderness tour though, and we know that we’re likely to have a big day tomorrow when we ski with a large group of friends. We’re really enjoying the moderating temperatures after yesterday’s cold snap, and tomorrow looks like it’s should be plenty warm, with temperatures in the 30s F even up in the mountains.