Ski day 15 ... Jiminy Peak, Hancock, MA Berkshires

"When in doubt, play it out" I always say. When they predict snow or rain but it ain't snowin' or rainin' yet, proceed with the plan! Around here (the great northeast), it works out more often than not whether that be for skiing, cycling, hiking or whatever outdoor activity you desire. I tend to do that cycling and yeah, I've got soaked but so what? You come home you take a hot shower and a nap and you're golden!
Today was a scheduled ski day for me and Mrs. MTBMan1. The forecasters predicted "chance" of snow, then rain in the afternoon. To be fair, I think the predicted chance was 40%.
Perhaps that forecast kept a lot of people away from the slopes because there was hardly anybody at Jiminy when we got there. I felt bad for the business. We took advantage of a $15 e-coupon. That's not $15 OFF that's $15 total cost of the lift ticket! The resort management must have predicted a slow day to offer that incentive! But very few people took advantage of it.
Obviously, WE did and I am glad of it!
While it was a gloomy, overcast day, not exactly a "bluebird" day, it barely snowed, just spit a little bit and we encountered no rain whatsoever. It was perfectly still, no wind. The snow conditions were good on the upper mountain but got pretty cruddy on the lowest parts as the day progressed. Typical for spring conditions but better than it could have been. It probably got up to the low 40s. The sun tried to peek out a few times but mostly it stayed cloudy.
Our favorite run of late has been West Way to Grand Slam. It's a low-intermediate run with several moderately steep hills broken up by flats. Interesting but not too strenuous. Also we've found that the snow stays in better shape here than on the east side.

The other run we did was Left Bank on the east side. This is a flattish green novice trail with one steeper hill. The snow was in good shape until the lower half where it got pretty cruddy. Just before the Q3/Widow White's Quad.

But we had a fun day. We had lunch and knocked off because of the crud. Why push it?

I noticed that my quads had recovered quite well from a punishing day at Plattekill last Saturday. They were very sore the day of but not much at all the day after.

It never did rain.

So was that the last day for us or will there be one (or two) more?

Big nor'easter predicted for us tonight and tomorrow. 6-12" they say. We'll see. Lot of times these big storm predictions fizzle.

Pray for snow and more cold weather!

Powder and packed powder, ahoy!

Like you care!

I included quite a bit of detail last post about my day at Plattekill with descriptions of individual runs and trails complete with highlighted trail maps.
I realize that most of you won't really care about this even and if you have skied Plattekill before.
More and more I have looked at my posts as a personal diary of my outdoor and fitness activity only ... public.
A contradiction perhaps. A blog is a convenient way to make these entries and by default, it is public. Occasionally, people have indicated an interest so I acknowledge that possibility and I am delighted when that is the case. So don't get me wrong. I DO care that you may be reading this. Else, why would I write it?
In these particular posts, however, I primarily want to create a record for the benefit of my own memory so I can savor the fleeting experience during the long, hot and humid dog days of July and August or when I'm sick and inactive or unable to get outdoors because of other pressing commitments.
All this to say ... "get ready, here he goes again".
I left out a few trails I wanted to mention yesterday. :-)

"Buckle Up" and "Bailout"
Perry and I took the trail "Buckle Up" from the top of the south peak. It is listed as blue intermediate but is primarily flat. It could be a green except that it leads into hairier stuff. First turn off it is "Bail Out". Which I took. And I did. Bail out, that is.
Perry continued past Bail Out to "Block Buster" an expert trail that looked too steep for me. I mean, I think I could have done it but it would have sapped too much of the little capacity I had remaining in my quads!
As it was, "Bail Out" was no picnic; narrow, almost like a cross country ski trail although I would even less like to attempt it on XC skis because of it's steep and winding nature. I bailed on the switch back that you see indicated by the black circle. Wasn't going fast. Sat down basically but it was so steep that I wound up turning head down on my back in spite of my efforts not to and kept sliding to point that I was concerned that I would go over the drop off at the side of the turn. I got ready to jab my poles into the snow below my head if that seemed to be the case but i stopped in time. It was sort of fun but such a narrow trail doesn't give you a lot of options. Sort of a precursor to tree skiing I suppose.

"Sundown and Shredded Mozzarella"
I skied the trails "Sundown" and then "Shredded Mozzarella" quite a bit. Sundown starts at the top of the south peak, has a switchback 2/3 of the way down and then intersects with "The Face" and "Bail Out" and continues on to "Shredded Mozzarella".
This is usually a good, moderate intermediate run although it can have it's rough spots. Portions of "Sundown" before the switchback got kind of scratchy especially later in the day when the packed powder got skied off. The part after the switchback for some reason always stays in good condition even last year on the "bitter end" last day of skiing when very few trails were still serviceable. Then it tends to get rough again around the last curve on "Shredded Mozzarella" again mostly later in the day. I wonder if that's how it got it's name although I would say it's more like FROZEN shredded mozzarella!

BTW, click on the images of the trail maps for a bigger, clearer view.

Plattekill, I name thee "Quad-Kill"

It was the perfect storm. A Saturday set aside for skiing, new snow on Thursday, below freezing temps and 2 free tix for Plattekill Mountain in the Catskills!
The common cold attempted to thwart my plan but I would not be denied and it backed down.
Made the trip with friend Perry. We got there well before opening and got the first chair on the Sunshine Triple!
Conditions were powder and packed powder. Fantastic mid-winter conditions for an early spring day! It was a mite nippy. 11° when we got there. It only warmed up to 31 by the time we left at 3PM.
I was really psyched about this trip. I had never skied the northface of the mountain. The first time Mrs. MTBMan1 and I went several years ago, the conditions were fantastic but I didn't have the confidence to venture beyond the 1 green trail "Powder Puff" on the other face.
The 2nd time, it had rained furiously a few days before and then gone into a deep freeze so a lot of the mountain was not open and what was open was icy. I did not attempt the north side which was mostly expert trails.
The 3rd time we went was last year at the "bitter end" of the season. I swear it was almost 80° and again, not a lot was open.
So this time, with a stellar winter behind us, still almost 100% of the mountain was open; 31 out of 35 trails!
With my newfound "skills" I felt confident enough to tackle the 1 green and several intermediates on the north side. The green trail is "Overlook" which is long, about 2 miles but narrow with dropoffs on either side. Manageable but a little hairy for beginners, I would think. The snow was great at the top but a bit hard and bumpy near the end.

Similarly, the intermediate trail "Ridge Run" was narrow but steeper. Still, the snow conditions and grooming were great. Most of the blue side trails off of Ridge Run were not groomed so I didn't attempt those.
It was great having Perry along. In addition to conversation and companionship, Perry is a better skier than me and he challenged me to try a couple of the black diamonds thinking the snow might be even better and the trails wider. He was right on both counts and I enjoyed several runs on "The Plunge" and

"The Face" but they were tiring for me, mainly, I think because I'm trying to keep my speed too slow for those pitches. Fighting harder against stronger gravity naturally expends more strength. On my first 2 runs on the black diamonds, I didn't do that great. I seemed to ski better on shallower pitches so I stopped to analyze what I might be doing wrong. Because of the fear factor of the steeper pitch, I tended to lean into the hill rather than commit to the fall line for the initiation of the next turn. Once I started doing that, it went much better. I was able to carve my turns again and get a good rhythm going.
I put in a good 4-1/2 hours of skiing and my quads are cooked but it's a good feeling! Oh, and my cold is making me pay but it was worth it! You can't take my day away from me! Bwah-hah-hah-hah-ha!

Veni, vidi, vici! (almost) ;-)

Here are some pix:
This is a view from "Shredded Mozzarella"

Looking back up Shredded Mozz

View of the North Face from Powder Puff

Another view from "Powder Puff"

'Nother view looking up Shredded Mozz, Sundowner and The Face

'Nother shot down Shredded Mozz

Here's a GPS track of a run I did down Powder Puff. I forgot to stop it until halfway up the lift so the run is only 1.3 miles. Note my blinding top speed of 24mph! Not Olympic material. hey, so it's not that steep!

Powder Puff - Plattekill Mtn. Roxbury,NY at EveryTrail
EveryTrail - Find the best Hiking in New York

When does the hurting stop?

That's right, my abs are still sore from last Saturday. That's 5 days! They do say us oldsters take longer to recoup after a hard workout but this is ridiculous.
Fortunately they're better and should be clear by Friday or Saturday when I am planning on skiing again. Neck and shoulders are mostly better too.
I am also recovering from some kind of bug. Left work this morning cause I was feeling crummy. Hopefully I'll be OK in a couple of days.
There appears to be some snow coming. Initially they were predicting possible double-digit accumulations in the Catskills which is where I'll be going but we'll see if it wimps out. Predicted temps out there at Plattekill are below freezing which is good if they groom it to chop up the hard pack, that's if it doesn't snow much.
In any event, I plan on getting out there before the lifts start up. Got free ticket vouchers too! ;-)

Sore Core

I'm not surprised to be sore in my quads or calves after a day of skiing. Or my shoulders from poling. Or my neck from my head bouncing on the snow pack after a nasty backwards spill.
But I have never had sore abs from a day of skiing before. That's good, I think.
I'm supposed to be engaging my core.
And wow is it ever sore! You know, like laying down and getting up sore? Ow!
And I didn't even know I was working out because I was just having fun!
That's the way to do it!
If only every workout were like that. But, it's not to be. Gotta be some discipline in there some where.
It's gotta be unpleasant in the moment but looking at that distant goal is what motivates you.
Hopefully I have a few more days skiing this season but now it's time to pump up my bike tires and get out on the road. Maybe do some mountain biking this year for fun.
Still, I will have to do "workouts". I got my copy of "Total Skiing" by Chris Fellows and it's chock full of balance, mobility, and fitness (aerobics and strength) exercises that I really need to do between now and next year's ski season. Good stuff for us "masters" (old people) too.

It's been a great winter!

It's been a great winter but it's not over yet!

Men's Bonding Day
Today was supposed to be a ski day for the men's group at the church. Any men, really. You know, men's bonding?
Well, as of this week it was just me and Brad. The other guys couldn't make it for one reason or other. Then, my last hope, Brad bailed on me ("you're our only hope Obi-Wan Kenobi").

Late to the hill
The original plan was to leave at 7AM so as to get to Butternut by 8:15 when the lifts open. But since no one was going, I decided to go to the Saturday morning men's group which is 7 to 8:30. But after I got home, I changed my mind and decided to go. It was a cool day, high 30's to low 40s so I figured conditions should hold up for awhile.
I got on the hill by 10 and conditions had already deteriorated pretty much. It didn't even look like it had been groomed but someone who had been there at opening assured me that everything had been groomed. It was pretty chunky.

First Run

My first mistake was to break my rule of doing a green warm-up run to check surface conditions and get limbered up. I went right for Applejack which I like for it's interesting terrain. But at the first switchback the heavy crud threw me and I did a "sit down" fall at slow speed. I gave myself a pep talk: "MTBMan1, did you forget how to ski? C'mon you can do this. Think!" Yep, survival mode. Threw all my technique out the window. But I regrouped and figured it out.

Hard Work
The snow was deep and heavy, crud. It was hard work pushing it. It didn't respond the same way as earlier in the winter. Eventually, through rethinking my approach and watching others from the lift, I think I did pretty well. Even had some fun! My newly acquired technique came through for me. Pole planting, carving, upper body forward into the fall line. Keep your speed up. Don't lose your rhythm.

Whiplash, Part 2
Complacency is your enemy!
I did really well on all the harder parts of the trails. Never fell. What got me was this little trail called "Fiddler". It's very deceptive. It just doesn't look steep. But you can get going pretty fast before you realize it. It was really chopped up too, almost mogully. Anyhow, the second time down it, I got going too fast and ran into some bad chop and ... bam! As I'm going down I'm thinking "OK, real injury this time". Head goes bonkity, bonk, bonk. No stars though. That's a good sign. Got right up. Skis still attached. Poles up the hill very nicely laid 180° from each other like I carefully placed them there!
Analyzing this spill later, I think I was a victim of the fear factor. I got going too fast for comfort saw a nasty patch of crud and actually bailed backwards. Always a bad thing for the head. Better to try and ski it, I would probably have made it. Of course this was right at the edge of the trail too. So the fear is that you'll slam into the woods or go down into a ravine. That compounds the fear thing. Better to bail than slam into a tree. That can get you killed.

All in all, I was quite pleased with the day and with myself. It wasn't the best of conditions but I think I did real well adjusting to it. I had some fun and a lot of nice, carved turns.

Next up, Plattekill on Friday. Got free tix burning a hole in my pocket! ;-)

A Really Good Meal

A day of skiing is like a meal for a special occasion at a fine restaurant. It's over too quickly and you want to relive it in your memory. You want to go back and do it again so you can pay closer attention while you are doing it. But no, it's over.

Today was such a day... St. Patrick's Day at Jiminy Peak in Hancock, Ma. We went there mainly because it's one of our first and fondest memories and mainly because of their great trails and mainly because it's a first class resort and mainly because it was $17.

Our first run of the day was on West Way because Left Bank (the east side) wasn't open yet. By our second lift ride they had dropped the ropes on Left Bank and we took it but it was already really choppy. So ... back to the west side. Too bad, 'cause I really have wanted to try some of the blues on that side like Panorama. My first year of skiing I wasn't really ready for intermediate trails like Panorama and subsequently it either hasn't been open or conditions haven't been great on it like today.

Run of the day was West Way to Grand Slam. Really outstanding. It's a nice long ride, wide, plenty of room for turns and not too crowded. The day started at about 37° and went up into the 50s. With every run the snow got noticeably slushier. Some sections were OK though. Still had some groom and they were more shaded so weren't quite so soft and heavy.

I took one pretty good spill. Backwards. Not good. My stance got too wide and one ski went where I did not want to go. :-(

I did OK just letting go but my head took a good wack. Felt slightly whiplashed.

Nevertheless, we had some great runs and I'm ecstatic that I have made some big improvements this year. Mainly that I finally bought some suspenders so I no longer look (as much) like the Michelin Man! ;-)

Winter's not over yet!

I'm encouraged.
Went for a short hike at the Five Rivers Environmental Center run by the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation about 5 minutes away.
I was surprised and encouraged by the decent snow pack remaining considering there is no man- made snow production to build up the base.
I have been concerned about the rain and above freezing temps over the last couple of weeks that it might severely damage the trails for the remainder of the ski season.
Although there were bare spots, these were mostly caused by some flooding of the streams here. Anything untouched by the water was still pretty good. Even skiable!
Here are a few mobile pix that I took today:

That's about 10" of snow that you can see beyond the bridge. After that it was washed out.

Could I jump that?

Everything that was flooded was covered by a gray silt.

Dam from a mill that used to be at the site.


Yeah, I could ski that.

That too.

And this one.

I'm blessed

"Into every life a little rain must fall"
"Spring is coming, get over it!"
... that's what I keep telling myself but it hasn't helped.
Every year, it seems, the transition gets worse.
The transition from ski season to end of ski season.
After a record January and February, we are going into March with rain and warm temps.
All that water gone to waste!
Anyhow, I was bemoaning the many days of damaging (to the snow pack) rain we've had and trying to be grown up about it (why?).
As they say, I can't complain (but I will).
We've had a stellar season up to now with great snow conditions and 100% trails open in all the resorts, I've had 11 ski days myself and
I got some good tips from my brother-in-law, Mike.
Sometimes I curse the area because we are often right on the snow/rain cusp and it seems more often than not, we'll get snow and then it'll rain on top of it and then we'll get a deep freeze. Not too good.
But what is good about this area is the variety of ski areas within 1 to 2 hours of me. There are several small "family" type operations that offer great prices, usually $20-25 during the week and some, even on the weekend after March 1 or 15th. Also, there are resorts 1 hour to the southeast of me in the Berkshires, 1 to 1-1/2 hours to the southwest of me in the Catskills, to the northwest are the Adirondack areas Gore and Whiteface and to the Northeast are the southern Vermont areas, Mt. Snow, Stratton, and Bromley. All have offered affordable deals under $30 from time to time if you keep checking diligently. So, I always have options.
I have fantasized about moving out west where the season is more reliable but I wonder if I would be able to afford it like I can here. I wonder if they have the smaller areas with reasonable prices?
For example, this last Monday was a washout with some heavy rain to our southeast so I was concerned about my scheduled ski day, Wednesday. I was planning on going to Jiminy Peak resort in Hancock, MA. I had an e-coupon for that day for a $25 lift ticket. That area in the Berkshires got more rain this time whereas to the west and north of us, there was snow. On Wednesday morning, I checked conditions at Jiminy and they said "frozen granular". I didn't like the sound of that. Sounds like "ice" to me. I checked out Belleayre Mountain, a ski area in the Catskills to the west and their conditions were "packed powder". Much better. And to top it off, they were offering tickets that day for $20! Score!
Needless to say, I headed for the Catskills. I had never been to Belleayre before although I had lived in that area years ago. It was a little over a 1-1/2 hour ride.
As advertised, the snow conditions were great and the hill was 100% open. It was a bit of a challenge to figure out the layout but I went right to it. There is a lower lodge and an upper lodge. I parked at the lower which was probably a good choice because it was less crowded. The lift from there (Lift 1&2) unloads behind the upper lodge and services almost all green beginner trails.
From there you ski down and pick up the Superchief Quad to the top of the east side.
Basically, almost everything from the top is expert, then converts to blue midway. The east and west edges have blues down the sides and there are several traverses criss-crossing the mountain to get you back and forth. The Tomahawk lift covers the west side and got me up to Deer Run, a long intermediate trail along the western boundary. Reminded me a lot of the Wilmington trail on Whiteface.
So there you have it. Had a great day, made a real breakthrough after lunch, poling finally clicked for me.
I'm ready for next Thursday: St. Patty's at Jiminy with Mrs. Mtbman1. 17 bucks! Woo-hoo!


Here's a link to a video of Deer Run: click here