Gift of Snow
A Great Birthday Present – The Gift of Snow
Last year my daughter, Becky gave me a great birthday present. She would take me skiing on a day and place of my choosing. There were a few caveats – Colorado was off the list. It had to be driving distance for a day trip from the Boston area. Other than that, it was my choice. A gift of snow and skiing.
For those of you living in the New England area, you realize that 2018 did not start off as a great ski season. January and February were unusually warm. When we did get cold weather or snow it was quickly followed by rain, even deep into ski country. We were both wondering if we’d even get out again this year.
Parade of Storms
The situation turned around in March – big time. We had a series of Nor’easters that slammed the coastal communities and dumped tons of snow on inland towns. Trees and power lines were brought down all over the region. There were actually four that hit in quick succession, about one a week for most of the month. Four Nor’Easters hit the Northeast
The second of the storms hit March 6–8 and brought up to 3 feet of heavy snow and knocked out power for more than 1 million people. It cancelled school for much of the region and companies struggled to keep things going.
We were very fortunate and never lost power. Many did in our town, and schools were shut down for several days. While this was a very tough situation for many – for skiers it was fantastic.
I checked out the ski totals for all the major ski resorts in our area using OnTheSnow. Mount Snow in Dover Vermont got the jackpot. They received about 30 inches of fresh snow with this latest storm, and continued to get more over the next several days.
This was it! I called Becky and we decided on Mt Snow for Saturday, March 10th. There wouldn’t be anyone else going on a weekend with the best snow of the year, right?
Best Laid Plans
We had planned to get an early start on the road – but that didn’t work out the way we planned. When we got to the mountain at 9:00, the parking attendants said there was no parking. Anywhere. “Try to find a spot in town and take the bus back.” It didn’t sound like things were shaping up the way we’d hoped.
I dropped Becky off with our gear, and she headed to get the pre-purchased passes while I went to town and would try to find a way back. On the way I saw a car just pulling in to a spot. The driver said it was just open and available! Some people must have given up with the look of the crowds and called it a day. I on the other hand, saw this as the opportunity it was.
After driving around in the “full” lots for a bit, I found a rather small but entirely usable place to park. It wasn’t even that far from the main lodge area. Things were looking up again.
There were a lot of people at the mountain that day, but once we got out of the base area it opened up. The snow was fantastic. Fresh powder in some areas – especially toward the edges. Most of the slopes quickly turned in to mogul runs with soft, gentle mounds. It took effort but the conditions were great.
Ski Tech Talk
I’ve been using the “Slopes” app on my iPhone and Apple Watch. It seems to be very easy on the battery of both and keeps track of a wide variety of statistics. There’s a premium version that even lets you see your runs and integrated any photos you may have taken along the way. I’d recommend it for anyone that wants to track your progress through the season. I’ve been doing that for about 20 years now. Originally I used an Avocet sports watch that could track barometric pressure changes. Then I upgraded to a SUUNTO “wrist computer” as they called it. It tracked a lot more information, and also kept a record of runs, vertical feet, and other status for your whole season.
Apple Watch Series 3
These days you can’t beat the Apple Watch 3 – it’s waterproof, have built-in GPS, heart rate monitoring, altitude, velocity, and more. On your wrist. And I think it costs less than the SUUNTO I bought years ago. Pair it with the Slopes app and you’ve got an awesome ski tracker for the season.
Despite the crowded conditions that day, we got in 13 runs and more than 12,000 feet of vertical skiing.
This was the first time I’d been skiing with my new iPhone X – complete with FaceID. I’ve been using TouchID on my iPhones and iPads since they’ve been available. They work great, but not if you have gloves on. Ski gloves anyway. Well I was surprised when I found that FaceID has ski challenges too. When I took my phone out to take photo with Becky and I on the slope, I didn’t understand why it wasn’t opening up. Face ID works with different hats on, even different eyeglasses. I forgot that I was wearing goggles, helmet, and a face mask. I guess it’s a good thing it didn’t work.
The 4 to 6 person high speed chairs are great. On busy days there’s a good chance you will get paired up with someone you don’t know. Some people don’t like to talk to “strangers,” and that’s fine. When you are able to strike up a casual conversation with someone, you never know where it will go. More often than not, it turns out to be very interesting.
On one of our chairs up the mountain we were sat with a guy who also had come for the day, but from further away. He had got up at 4:00 am to get started, and got to Mt Snow at about 7:30. The parking lots were already full! He ended up parking in the exact same lot that we did – 2 hours later. I just got lucky to find a spot after someone had left. That took the pressure and guilt off of not getting there when we had planned. We really didn’t miss anything.
Fun with Stickers!
Stickers are awesome. People use them to show off their interests, places they’ve been. Equipment brands that they like. They will highlight just about anything. I took some pictures of interesting stickers on a rooftop ski box on my way from parking the car. While we were in the lift line, I saw this guy with an amazing collection of stickers from ski areas all over…including one from Argentina. I asked if I could take a picture of his helmet. He was a little confused but said fine. Unfortunately you can’t make out the Las Leñas sticker at all!
Stickers can go on your helmet, your car’s bumper, the rear window. Just about anywhere to highlight the places and brands that you love. After seeing some of these awesome examples, we decided to create some for Live Real Life as well. You’ll find them in our store under “Gear”.
The snow caused a lot of challenges for people in the Northeast in March. I firmly believe that you need to find something you love to do in the winter, or else you’re doomed to dread it every year. Skiing has always been my thing, ever since my brother and I first learned as kids. Both of my kids ski – even though none of us gets in as much as we’d like to. Still, the yearning to go, and the anticipation of snow in the weather forecast gives us something to look forward to, all winter long.
Thank you Becky, for one of the best birthday gifts ever. The wonderful gift of snow.