New England is in Our Bones!
You may have noticed that we do most of our skiing in the western US and Canada. But our roots run deep in New England skiing – specifically in the molehills of upstate New York and the green mountains of Vermont. Truthfully, we don’t ski there very much anymore. Charlotte spends at least several weeks every winter in the frustratingly beautiful but often bare or icy Mad River Valley in Vermont, but our primary focus and energy is expended out west. Despite that, our insane and insatiable love for skiing is primarily due to the sticks, stones, ice and occasional powder of New England.
This really hit me this weekend in reading a very funny piece in the Boston Globe entitled “New England Skiing is a Magical Use of Time and Money.” See New England Skiing is a Magical Use of Time and Money I was shocked that the author had been watching me years ago as I commanded my family into the car, onto the chairlift and prohibited bathroom or lunch breaks while blissfully ignoring my empty wallet. But it made me in an odd sort of way realize how embedded into my bones and character New England is.
While I think true Vermonters revolt when New York is included in the definition of New England, my initial introduction into the sport was via the drumlins in the Finger Lakes region of upstate NY. I come by my freneticism about skiing honestly. My father was bowled over by the ski bug as a young adult after settling with a young family in upstate NY. There were suspicions that he appreciated skiing most as a vehicle to escape from his family with his male buddies every weekend, but, whatever the draw, he was in deep and never did recover.
My father’s ski sickness led him east – first to the Adirondacks of NY and then to northern Vermont. Whether it was because he wanted to share this love with his family or his better half insisted we were doing this all together, he finally brought his two sons and wife along. Hence, at least once a winter, we survived a six plus hour drive each way to the Vermont Mad River Valley to ski Sugarbush, Glen Ellen (now Mount Ellen, Sugarbush north) and Mad River Glen. (Knowing that skiing was the sole purpose of such an adventure, I think my older brother even behaved.) We endured freezing temps that should be illegal, bare “spots” that engulfed whole trails, ice only navigable with crampons, rain that pierced the green garbage bags we wore over our parkas and winds that scraped trails down to the most recent ice layer.
But there were magical moments enough to keep us coming back. Some such moments provided family glue that helped keep our somewhat fractured family together. Singing Pete Seeger’s classic “Where Have All the Flowers Gone” with your mother on the chairlift in fog so thick the chairlift in front of you didn’t exist will do that. And, yes, there were days with fresh powder or delectable corn snow made all the more memorable against the backdrop of the ice and rain so prevalent in New England.
Guess what I did when making my young adult choices? I chose a mate who could ski and I refused to let our three kids partake of anything that would interfere with ski weekends. Saturday hockey – are you kidding me?! And the focal point of my crimes – Sugarbush, Mad River Glen and Jay Peak. My wife and I kept a detailed list of expenses that vaguely represented a budget, but somehow skiing related costs escaped any serious scrutiny. We indeed endured all the indignities listed above – cold, dirt, ice, rain and wind – but none could make us reconsider our choices. We had great ski days, and just perhaps more importantly, nights of our family playing games or watching movies secluded from the world.
And to this day the true test in my mind is given the same wonderful conditions of untracked powder, I would be as happy in the glades of Jay Peak or at the top of the Mad River single chair as anywhere I have skied.
Be Well: Ski Well