Powder Day Progression Monday’s mini snow storm serendipitously coincided with a
day off from both school and my family’s various ski programs. We woke to a few
inches of perfect fluff covering the trees and car and driveway, with snow
still sifting steadily to the ground.
A few inches constitutes a powder day in my kids’ minds, so
after breakfast we made our way along snow-greased roads to the mountain. I
spent the next few hours chasing my kids around the familiar ski trails of my
own childhood, and I couldn’t help pondering the progression of my skiing life
– from New Hampshire to the mellow hills of college days in upstate New York,
then the deep snow and steep skiing of Colorado, and finally home again to continue
the cycle with the next generation.
Under the Guns If I concentrate, I can
almost block out the roar of the snow guns, which are spewing manmade snow beneath
an uncharacteristically bluebird New Hampshire winter sky. Soft as silk, the
snow sifts to the ground, building cover on the snow whales, which rise like
cresting waves in a perfect line down the hill: swelling white whoop-de-dos
that offer up continued freshies, last run’s tracks filled in again in the time
it takes to ride up the chairlift.
The bottom layer of manmade is incredibly grippy underneath the top layer of fluff, the combination of firm base and fake pow like some other version of hero snow. I push off down the steep trail, chairlift to the left, tree line to the right, goggles down, zipper up against the subzero chill, the bliss of sleek turns bigger than the blaring of the guns.
Western skiers would scoff at this zest for manmade snow. I know; I lived and skied among them for five long, lovely winters. I moved west after college with a lifelong ski buddy. We’d grown up together as ski racers on the blue ice and manmade granular of a New Hampshire mountain, in an era when ski racers weren’t encouraged to ski anything other than hard pack. Early in our first Colorado winter, we hiked out to Crested Butte’s Third Bowl. The snow was waist-high, and we hadn’t a clue what to do with all that powder. We flailed. Then laughed. Then floated as we figured it out. READ MORE