Skiing on Lincoln’s Birthday

I alway imagined Abraham Lincoln was a hot laps kind of guy. Midwest skiers have to make lemonade out of just about everything so pushing up the Mach numbers may have been Abe’s only option.

I also believe he’d approve of the way I celebrate his birthday — by skiing. I usually ski his birthday solo, out of necessity. Most people don’t get Lincoln’s birthday and Presidents’ Day off. When they were younger I would drop my kids at school and drive up to Mount Peter in Warwick.

Mount Peter on a midweek morning is like having your own personal ski hill. I was always able to rack up impressive vertical, considering how small the hill is. Including the skate from the top of the lift, chair time was most of my morning.

After 50 runs I’d pack it in and be back at my kids’ school in time to pick them up. Since the boys have gotten older I’ve worked in bigger hills. Not having to be home at 2:45 has freed me up to celebrate with Abe.

Normally when Abe’s special day falls on a Friday, I’ll ski Plattekill. This year, limited ticket availability dovetailed nicely with my mission to explore as many new ski areas as possible. I considered Song and Willard but ultimately chose West Mountain in Queensbury. It was like a little voice guided me there.

In spite of spending my teen years in the Capitol District, I’d never been to West. I started skiing at Jiminy Peak and I guess I stuck with it out of habit. When I started to venture furhter, I went into Vermont or north to Gore or Whiteface. Somehow, I never got to West.

On Friday, I found myself in West’s parking lot right at opening, 10 AM. Of course, West on a Friday isn’t Mount Peter on a Tuesday. There were plenty of cars in the lot already. In fact, I could see a race course set up on the hill above the lodge. There was a lot going on.

I booted up and hopped on the West Express, a fixed grip triple with a conveyor belt loader. My first run was Lil’ Mackerel to Middle Mackerel to Gnarwall North and North Face. It was solidly intermediate terrain, not a challenging run, but fun.

I spent the first hour of the day exploring everything that was open and avoiding the racers. It was fun skiing if you like cranking up the speed on wide groomers. I knew that at 11 AM, the Apex Triple and Northwest Lodge would be opening so I kept an eye on the closed trails I was skiing past as I explored. Once the ropes dropped, I headed over that way to see what I could find.

The terrain around the Apex chair was also buffed out, but a little bit steeper then the main area. I explored around a bit but found myself repeating on a run called A.O.A., a black diamond, mostly fall line trail that brought me right back to the bottom of the lift. Fast laps on hard pack may not be everybody’s cup of tea but I enjoy it.

On my second run down A.O.A. I realized I should have brought my K2 GS skis. I was skiing fast, and I could hear that familiar old whack whack whack of my tips flexing and smacking the trail surface, whenever I wasn’t actively carving a turn.

At one point, I went into the lodge for a cup of chili and to warm up my phone. Even with the race crowd, I don’t think I had to wait more then thirty seconds for a chair all day. I skied everything that was open, even though half my runs were fast laps on A.O.A.

My Lincoln’s Birthday tradition continues. I had a good day. I think the President would approve.

12 comments on “Skiing on Lincoln’s Birthday

  1. I think he would have said something like “Be excellent to each other” and “Party on, dude” after reading this!

  2. I like where your head is at, ML. I wonder what kind of skier Joan of Arc would be- probably a snowboarder actually

  3. Oh yeah for sure
    I love skiing on Presidents’ Day, most areas light on skiers due to traveling.
    I took a trip up to the PROMISED LAND WHITEFACE.
    Skied Skyward McKenzie and the willimington trail were spectacular.
    I love New York skiing and Presidents’ Day.
    Pause peace and patience

  4. It’s a hard job instigating a war to kill 600,000 men and obliterate half the nation without a plan for what to do with millions of freed slaves. But Honest Abe sacrificed, he skipped skiing and even leg day. That’s why he’s a hero!

  5. I overlooked West until a few years ago on a trip to Vermont. it seemed like a logical stopping point to break up the trip and get some night skiing in. Pretty amazing lights and the mountain isn’t too bad either.

  6. I skied there a few times when I traveled the state. I had accounts in Glens Falls and would ski the night before my morning sales calls. Been a bunch of years though. BTW, the races were the USSA Masters Eastern Regionals-skiers ranging from 21-80+. As you probably saw a bunch of good ones too!

  7. That’s an interesting take, Frank. I have never seen Lincoln referred to as the “instigator in chief.” Did you learn to ski at Gatlinburg?

  8. I’ve driven by West many times but now you’ve really piqued my interest. I like your tradition and your awareness of the day. Looking forward to dropping the Peanut at school and burnin’ some Dad laps. I like the photo of the couple and child with what looks like a retractable leash. I used to use one while skijoring with my Border Collie. Have yet to try it with the kid.

  9. Always skied West as a 3rd day when skiing Gore. Nice reasonably priced place with decent vert for a local venue. Haven’t skied it since ownership has changed and lifts improved, so I imagine it’s only gotten better.

  10. I was there as a first timer on Saturday so I got to see some of the races. Fun mountain that will be thrown in the mix as part of my Gore and Whiteface trips.

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