skiing, it’s what we do.

Blueberry Hill Inn sign

Bitter night, February.

Rumor of a full moon but it was not to be seen with the arras of swirling clouds and snow squalls covering the sky.

So, let’s just have a potluck with friends we haven’t met before, and then strap slippery boards onto our feet so we can go slide around in an icy nearby field.


Recently while looking around for a place to go skiing, a small item popped out on the Blueberry Hill website:

Made chili? Check. Got cold weather gear? Check. Remember to call ahead? Oops. Thankfully it was a fairly loosely organized event.

Arrived a little late to find the potluck underway with six folks upstairs in the Blueberry Hill Cross Country Ski Center. It’s a big post-and-beam lodge with the ski rental stand and waxing table downstairs, and the open lunchroom area upstairs with several picnic tables. With so  few people there, they moved over and made room at their own table for us to squeeze in. There was Mark, the osteopath, and Patti and Andrea and Luke and…plenty of chili and bread and local cheese and desserts to go around.

After the potluck we ventured downstairs, looked at the trail map on the wall, and more than a few of us cast a wary eye out the windows at the whipping winds and snow showers. OK, so, it’s an adventure. Unknown trails, hard-packed snow and ice from the previous two days’ melting temperatures, darkness, and wintry conditions on top of it all.

What were we thinking.

It didn’t take very long to realize that the “ski” was going to be the shortest part of the evening’s fun. We stayed together as a group, making our way through the field and across the road to take on the trail next to the Inn. Except, the trail started with a significant downhill slope (ice), with a turn at the bottom over a bridge with a running creek. In the dark. Um…I put the kabosh on that one. Being cold, off-balance and wind-lashed is one thing. Being WET, in a frigid stream, was quite another.

So we turned around, crossed the road again, and did a large loop in the flat field next to the Ski Center. The wind was fierce, threatening to knock me over with every stride forward and the snowflakes it carried bit into the skin on my face. That one lame loop was about enough for last night’s conditions. The old woodstove on the main floor was a welcome sight once we made it back inside.

I’d do it again. But I’d wear a LOT more clothes, and maybe hope at least for a glimpse of the full moon.

Below are a few shots from last weekend’s adventures at Ole’s Cross Country Ski Center in Warren, VT (near the airport). How are conditions at Ole’s today? Probably not much better than the ice we skiid on last night, but you wouldn’t know it from the great write-up at their website:

Sunday, February 20, 2011 —  While the snow is still too firm to set a classic track, the mix of loose granular and the little bit of new snow overnight has been turned into a pliable and skiable corduroy in most places. Our groomer doesn’t always get the best conditions to work with, but he is like an artist; imagine Rembrandt with crayons and wax paper — he’d still produce a masterpiece. Josh is our Rembrandt, creating a thing of beauty from less than ideal snow.

Ski skaters in particular should have a blast. About 30 kilometers are open. And the wind? It is there all right, but our anenometer confirms that it’s holding in about the 10 – 15mph range from the northwest  and diminishing throughout the day. Snowshoeing should also be good today.

Optimism is 99% of everything in a Vermont winter.

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