It wasn’t the greatest winter for skiing. Though there was no shortage of “snow” days (Campbell’s school went one over its allotted number of them), we didn’t get a single foot-plus winter dump as can usually be expected two or three times a year, and almost every time nature did drop a few inches of the white stuff, she seemed to follow up almost immediately with enough steady rain to wash most of it away. Hunter reported a lot less than 100” of snow all winter, and though the other mountains tend to be more “generous” with their statistics, Plattekill’s tally of 134” falls long way short of its boasted 250” “average annual snowfall.” After last year’s strange winter, when the Valentine’s Day blizzard provided only the first major snowfall of the entire winter, it’s fair to say that global warming is being keenly felt round these parts.
But east coast skiers are used to hardships, and as long as you keep an eye on the weather forecasts, check the local mountains’ snow-making reports, plan your weekends accordingly, and reward yourself the occasional “snow day” of your own when nature demands it (and whether or not time allows it!), there’s little to complain about. To wit, we had one our greatest days of the winter this past Monday, when we celebrated Campbell’s spring break and the appearance of a classic blue-sky day by taking the whole family to Hunter. The day was a double delight: Noel got his ski legs on his third attempt, learning to stand comfortably, riding one of the bigger lifts halfway up the mountain, being heard loudly singing as I whizzed him down the green runs between my legs, and earning the suitably admiring gazes for his gallant 3-year old efforts. And Campbell and I so enjoyed the almost complete lack of crowds (clearly, it was not school holiday time up at Hunter itself) that we were even able to race each other down Belt Parkway, the (usually) aptly named blue run off the quad that is famous for heavy congestion and resultant pile-ups.
By early afternoon, the lingering winter winds had died down, the sun was high up in the sky and a few dozen skiers had already given up for the day, sitting out on the deck instead with pints in hand (it was St. Paddy’s day, after all), working on their spring tans. Me, I took the last lift of the day and one final, slow run down Hellgate and Eisenhower, at the top of which I photographed my shadow stretching almost the whole way down the mountain. It felt criminal not to keep enjoying the soft snow with the sun so high in the sky.
On Friday, winter officially gives way to spring. Saturday, I’ll be partaking of the ski-bike-run Triathlon at Belleayre. The following weekend, the running season starts up again already, though I could swear the last one only just finished. I’ll probably sneak out to a ski mountain again before we’re all done – there’s at least one free pass still sitting around the house – but I doubt I’ll have quite as much fun as we did Monday. Though I won’t miss the snowplow bills, the devastation to our road or the icy sidewalks, still I’ll be sad to see winter go. Anyone got a spare ticket to Utah?