The other day, I wheeled into my favorite ski area, unloaded my equipment, showed my vaccination record, and had a happy revelation: I was only the second person in the lodge.
There’s no place I’d rather be than at a ski area — and no place I’d rather be than at the front, or maybe within the first half-dozen, in line at the lift. For me, first tracks mean a first-class skiing experience.
Most of you reading this column have never experienced this first tracks phenomenon, and in a way maybe I shouldn’t be bringing attention to the joys of early arrival at a ski area. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I am coming to believe that self-interest requires me to urge you to perfect this congenial regimen: Sleep in late. Have a leisurely breakfast. Do not forget to do your stretches, all of them, even the ones you usually skip. Please take your time laying out your ski outfit for the day. Do not pile your layers at your bedside before retiring for the evening. Start fresh in the morning to assemble your ensemble. It’s better that way. At least it’s better for me if you do it that way.
But I am a journalist and have been taught — by mentors, by experience, and by conviction — to tell the truth, and the truth is that skiing is better in the morning. It’s especially better in the hour or so before you laggards arrive on site. You don’t know what you are missing, and though I am about to tell you, I am not so sure I want you to share the exhilaration of the first tracks experience.