Mount van Hoevenberg: The Prodigal Skier Returns

Monday afternoon. On the Northway, the sun in our eyes as the shooting brake ate miles, heading back to the flatlands. My arthritic feet let me know they were unhappy with the day’s three-hour ski.

I said to Lars, “I used to think that if my fairy godmother offered me a choice of a 25-year-old cardiovascular system or 25-year-old feet, no contest. It’d be the motor. Anymore, I think I’d rather have 25-year-old feet.” Too many birthdays, and the wear and tear catches up with you.

Having company on a ski expedition was a welcome change to my usual solo missions. Lars and I first met in Prospect Mountain’s lodge over 20 years ago.

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Gliding at Paul Smiths VIC

It’s not uncommon to see people snowshoeing at a cross-country ski center. But near the end of my tour of Paul Smiths College Visitor Interpretive Center (VIC), I espied a veritable gang heading towards me on snowshoes. Thirty or 40, mostly guys and a few women. They were all wearing hard hats, and Carhartt or buffalo plaid and Malone pants. Heavy gloves. They were all on one side of the trail, so I had no worries gliding by.


I accosted a straggler adjusting his snowshoe bindings. They were doing an outdoor session for a class in civic culture: How to manage a woodlot for a client. With a name like that, one would think the class covers polite debate, or how to hold a cup of tea with your pinky finger sticking out.

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Mount van Ho: I Learned to Love Manmade Snow

What a difference a day makes.

New Year’s Day this year, is the latest I’ve ever started a ski season. When Mount van Hoevenberg opened in November, the shooting brake was racked up in the shop with a warranty issue. By the time I got it back – with an entirely new emissions system – we were knee deep in December. December skiing and a job the retail wine business don’t play well together.

More and more, Christmas week is like the old meme of Lucy holding the football for Charlie Brown. Promise packed powder conditions, then give them a slushfest. Clouds pelted us with intermittent rain as we drove north on New Year’s Eve.

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