Two years ago at this time, we were … well, you know.
Those early days of the pandemic were a confusing time, a stretch that seems longer ago than only two years. Everything came to a halt, including our favorite places to visit when we’ve got nothing else to do (or, really, even when we have plenty to do).
There was a lot of back and forth that followed the ski areas closing. Some argued that an outdoor activity shouldn’t be considering a dangerous environment. Others wondered why we were so obsessed with skiing when people were dying.
But here we are, another spring skiing and riding season in our midst with a newfound appreciation for the waning days of winter.
We had a bit of the taste of spring skiing last year, but much of it came without the revelry. No pond skims, no Reggaefest, no bump bashes or spring break après. Spring skiing in 2021 was sort of like pizza without toppings — good, but you knew it could be better.
I was at the Omni Mount Washington recently for the U.S Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame’s induction ceremony, a day that, of course, began across the street at Bretton Woods. I had skied in the Mount Washington Valley only 10 days earlier and saw mixed results at Attitash (fun, firm packed powder) and Black Mountain (scratchy and exposed in many areas). But Bretton Woods skied tremendously well — in the trees even — despite only a few inches of snow falling here or there in between the visits. And so, what started as a few runs in the morning before heading back to the hotel to get ready for the evening, turned into a much later mad dash to get back to the hotel in time to get ready for the evening.
Spring days on the mountain tend to be like this for me. Last chair seems like it comes too soon, even if your legs are burning with glee after churning all day long. Yes, there are plenty of après things to sink your teeth into, but those spring afternoons spent skiing are just as intoxicating.
I remember the best ones; Cinco de Mayo at Killington. The Red Parka Pub Challenge Cup partying during a 65-degree day at Attitash. Sunday River’s Parrot Head Festival, held on the sort of perfect afternoon that even Jimmy Buffet haters could enjoy. Skiing closing day at Park City, and taking just enough time on the last run to be one of the final skiers on the mountain that season.
You know why there are no friends on a powder day? Because you’re all too busy making sure your schedules coincide for when skiing is at its apex. The sun, smells and the vibe. This is what we skied all winter for, isn’t it?
Maybe this spring day will be your final day of the season. Or maybe it won’t be. But are you really willing to take that chance?
Nothing was worse than 2020, having everything snatched away from us. But perhaps with that experience also comes an even deeper sense of acknowledgement for this time of year. Assume nothing and cherish every run, every chairlift conversation, every lukewarm burger in the lodge.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, however long it might last.
Eric Wilbur can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.