In spite of the long wait for ski season to start, my son and I overslept. Hunter is conveniently located for us, so our extra Zs were not a big problem. We pulled into the parking lot just a couple of minutes after 9 AM.
We were eager to get after it but I was kind of nervous too. I’m on the record as fan of early season skiing but this would be junior’s first opening day experience. Would the traditional white-ribbon-of-death and the Hunter faithful overwhelm him?
We booted up, schlepped our skis over to the racks and redeemed our Liftopia vouchers at the ticket window. Hunter’s detachable six-pack, the Kaatskill Flyer, whisked us off to the top. Hunter’s website advertised four lifts and eleven trails for opening day. Open terrain was wall-to-wall and the base was deep.
In a low snow year, Hunter was reporting most of its terrain open. Weather forecasts were calling for a warm and sunny April day in March and I was thinking about Hunter for a day of midweek skiing.
Temperatures ranged from the 40s to the 60s on my ride up, base to summit. The baseball hat and sunglasses were mandatory, but I was comfortable in my light ski pants with shorts underneath, a breathable shirt and a windbreaker.
Normal for midweek, the lifts and trails were empty. Hunter was hosting the annual fireman’s races and there were plenty of firemen on the mountain, some wearing full gear and some wearing shorts only.
It was the worst of times, it was the best of times. It was February and a dead brown stretched across the hills of NY like a widow’s veil. My eyes mourned for winters past and for winters yet to come.
But under my feet it was different. Under my feet were my favorite pair of skis and soft, beautiful snow. Yes by Dickens, this has been the winter of despair. Killington has had less snowfall than New York City. Puffy parkas are languishing in backs of closets alongside wedding dresses and graduation gowns.
But I’m here to quell your fears. Skiing isn’t dead yet. This ski season isn’t dead. I can assure you, for I found meaning in the Catskills this past week at Plattekill and Hunter.