Every spring when the season is over, I head to the cabin to turn off the heat, stack the wood for next winter and get the trails in shape for summer. I’m productive enough, but really it’s just another reason to return to my favorite place in the world.
Traditionally the spring work weekend was in early May, before the black flies had their game on. But over the last ten years the bugs are emerging earlier and we’ve moved spring weekend into April. Even this year it hardly feels like the ski season is over.
I arrived Friday afternoon and took a quick walk of the yellow trail. It was dry and I was surprised to find little deadfall; small consolation for the thinnest winter in memory.
With the start of little league baseball season and the early closing of southern New York’s ski industry, it would have been understandable if I didn’t ski this weekend. The truth is I’m not ready to give up on the season yet.
My Saturday was full and, yeah, my local options were gone but I figured with a little ingenuity and determination, I could still squeeze out another ski day. That’s how I found myself jumping on the Thruway in Rockland County around 9:30 on Saturday night.
Destination Whiteface, over four hours away. I drove until 1 AM, settled into an unobtrusive spot (not saying where exactly) and crawled into the back of my truck. Something woke me up before dawn and I couldn’t get back to sleep so I got back on the road. I ended up in the River Lot at 7:30, drinking coffee and twiddling my thumbs.
New York’s ski patrol took to the slopes for the first time, at Gore Mountain, on March 4, 1934. It was the start of the ski season that year; in those days you skied when it snowed.
In the 1950s, snowmaking was introduced in the Catskills, and soon technology began to change skiing. Sixty years later resort skiing has become a business that can survive even the leanest of winters.
I appreciate the advancements in manmade snow, but there is no getting around the total picture. Snowmaking can be loud, it’s expensive and the product lacks the magic of natural snow.