Stowe, VT 19APR2011
Toward the end of the workday today, Wini told me that Ali was meeting a friend out in Stowe for a run, and that afterwards they were heading to The Shed for dinner. When asked if I wanted to meet up with them, I realized that it was perfect timing – E and the boys out of town on spring break, and I had all the time I needed. By the time Ali and her friend were expecting to be done with their run, it looked like dinner would be on the later side, so most importantly I knew I’d have time to even get in some skiing and ensure my appetite was ready to go.
Today was a gorgeous sunny day, and with the daylight growing longer all the time, there was more than enough light to get out for an evening run on the slopes. From home in Waterbury I headed out to Stowe, and on The Mountain Road I passed Ali and her friend running back in the direction of the village; it looked like I still had a decent chunk of time for skiing. I hit the mountain around 6:30 P.M., and like my experience at Bolton on Sunday afternoon, I found that there was no need to head to the more sheltered, high elevation terrain; even the low-elevation, south-facing slopes of Spruce Peak had plenty of coverage. The only area that had even melted out was that open face between the Nastar Hill and the Meadows.
I started skinning up in the Easy Street area on my ascent, and for my overall route I figured I’d just play it by ear and wait for Wini’s call. At around 6:50 P.M. I got the word from Wini – Ali was done with her run; she was heading over to Wini’s to get changed out of her running clothes, and they’d be at the restaurant in 20 to 30 minutes. I weighed my options and figured I could get up near the top of the Alpine Double with enough time for skin removal, descent, gearing down, and the drive.
As I continued my ascent the snow depths were quite impressive – the snow on Upper Meadows was absolutely wall to wall, and looked very deep. Across the valley, Mansfield was looking fantastic with just a few of the usual steep ledges lacking snow. I headed under the alpine slide tunnel and stopped up above Slalom Hill/West Slope where I switched over to descent mode.
The descent was wonderful, due to both the time of day and the snow surface. It’s not too often that I’m making my turns in the light at 7:00 P.M., but this is the time of year when we get there. It wasn’t quite sunny like it had been earlier in the day, since clouds were building in ahead of the next storm, but there was still that aura of late day light. I found myself slicing down a divine surface; the top couple inches of snow had melted to a beautiful corn consistency, and they had begun to recrystallize into an airy layer atop the snowpack that peeled away beautifully with each turn. Slicing big Tele arcs down the open face of West Slope reminded me of days hitting it with the boys; and the surface was incredibly smooth because there had been little if any human traffic, just Mother Nature cycling the daily temperatures to generate a pristine snowy slope.
I cruised right down to the edge of the parking lot, swapped into my regular boots, stowed my gear, and headed off to The Shed. Wini had called to let me know that they were in the pub section. I made it just a few minutes after my planned time, so I was quite happy with how that worked out. We had a great evening of discussion, and as The Shed took care of any and all ski-related yapness. It was definitely one of those Vermont life days.