The great annual thaw has descended upon us with predictably punctuated increases in the height of thermometer mercury. To me it seems tantamount to a visit from the Grim Reaper. I am not ready for the snow to melt and the riding season to be over. Alas, I have no say in the matter. I am deeply passionate and excited about snowboarding and not ready to transition to warmer weather activities.
My enthusiasm for snowboarding this season is surprising to my coworkers. When the season began I declined a free Ski Maine Gold Pass. I thought I wouldn’t go and that someone else would be able to get more advantage from one. This attitude began to change when my coworkers Alex and Jeff returned from a day of skiing and talked about how amazing it was. When Jeff’s new Burton snowboard was delivered to the office I knew I wouldn’t be able to go the entire season hearing their stories of adventures on the slopes while I was stuck at lower elevations. Immediately, I ordered a new ride from Burton on a pro deal and waited in eager anticipation for it to arrive.
I’ve been on the slopes fifteen days this season and have several more outings planned.
Two of those riding days were this past weekend with Jeff and Alex. I had two tickets to Sugarloaf and wanted to use them before the snow was gone. Alex had access to a house near the mountain where we could stay free. It was as if the gods wanted me to ride; how could I resist? We drove up Friday after work and stayed through Sunday afternoon. It was an amazing weekend.
The first few runs each day were epic. There weren’t many people out early in the day. The snow was hard packed as a result of the warm day temperatures, freezing night temperatures, and lots of grooming.
At this point in the season I’m feeling very comfortable on my board and eager to fly. We were all using the Ski Tracks iPhone app to monitor our speeds, distance, position, etc. The first run Sunday I clocked 38 MPH while Jeff’s app registered 47 MPH. Clearly there are accuracy issues, as we were descending the mountain together. Regardless, by the end of the day I had registered a blistering 45 MPH on Cribworks, a steep, hard, smooth run that made me positively giddy with excitement as I gazed over its precipice.
In addition to going very fast at every opportunity I could find, we managed to find some jumps and ride a halfpipe a few times.
Saturday morning I awoke early and went downstairs to find three deer walking by the house. One stopped to graze on a branch just feet from the window at which I stood.
A highlight of the weekend was riding the Timberline quad to the summit with skiing entrepreneur and author John Christie. I was in my usual spot on the right in the lifeline (I’m a goofy snowboarder) when John joined us from the singles line. The lift operator recognized him and mentioned his book, so when we were safely on the chair and ascending the mountain I asked John about the book, knowing nothing of it. John told us about the history of the gondola at Sugarloaf and admitted he would love to snowboard on powder days, but has never done it. That chairlift ride was the only time I ever wished for a slower, longer ride. When we reached the top John was off in a blur. I am grateful for our chance meeting and conversation.