I spent this past weekend in the Shenandoah Valley - a first since the velvety, powdered-sugar base of snow up in WV entered it's nirvana phase more than a month ago. This coming Thursday I'll catch a ride down to Macon Georgia with the media director of the Kenda Pro Road Cycling Team. I'm going to be flying the KPC colors this season on the road bike and GT for the MTB side of things. Macon will be the site of the KPC's eight day pre-season training camp. Gear/media/training and testing. I'm excited to have a first class introduction back into racing after a year of messengering in NYC. My last experience at an "oh so pro" cycling camp was with KBS in California a couple years ago.
Last Wednesday Andy Mckeegan and I made a special early-morning-push over the mountains and into WV to grab some first tracks in the pillowy stash of fresh snow usually reserved for White Grass staffers and locals who can pull the mid-week powder card. We pulled into an almost empty parking lot with the snow still coming down sideways. The main slope that's usually groomed and beaten down from skiers was occupied by an arsenal of snow-fences and the resulting drifts towering over them. Mid-week skiing at White Grass has the mystique of a beach that by day is flowing with people churning up the sand and building sandcastles only for the tide to erase it overnight night leaving it pristine and undisturbed by morning. Inside the lodge there was room to move, to sprawl out with our gear without the worry of taking up the space that's so coveted on a busy weekend. There were no Kid's spilling hot chocolate on us and it was warm from the wood stove that has likely not gone out since late November. The light was soft and the food smells mixed with the smells of ski wax, leather ski-boots drying and wood smoke creating a sweet earthy scent unique to White Grass.
On our way out through the breezeway we ran into Morgan (Chase). He ended up jumping on our train up the trackless main slope. We zigzagged our way up to mid station were a lonely retired ski-lift shack has sat quietly since the mid 1950's or so. Ducking into the woods and up Double Trouble, a classic steep and serpentine White Grass trail, we kicked our way over Round Top and into the Bald Knob glades. Morgan's bother Adam their friend Kevin were taking a break at the little rest hut tucked under the Spruce canopy. We left as a powder-giddy pack of five and wound our way out of the trees, over several larger than normal drifts and onto the wind-swept summit of Bald Knob. Our 4300' elevation soon turned into 3500' after thirty or so jump telemark turns down the steep face off the Knob through knee deep powder. That particular plummet into the upper steeps of Springer orchard was a first for me - a testament to the amount of snow Canaan (had) last week. I wasn't able to wipe the manic OMFG-grin off my face for the next few hours. So then we waited, shaking from the vertical drop, for Andy Mac who chose a slightly tamer route around the West side of "Baldy". When we saw the explosions of drifts above us we just yelled. As Andy emerged, dusted white, he had our same elated look on his face and said he thought he was on the wrong trail because of all the mammoth sized drifts. From there, together again, we aggressively charged our way into the next glade. It was too perfect to even begin to explain after the fact. The coffee won't last that long. Wispy powder bouncing and scratching across synthetic ski pants and how that sounds, describes it partially. I'll also say that if you filmed us and photoshopped the snow away, we would appear to be smoothly flowing three feet above downed trees, through gullies, over large piles of brush and many small hibernating creatures.
After that? Repeat-Cafe-Repeat, Hellbender's for beers, burrito's and the Olympics and Lindsey Vonn's gold medal run in the woman's downhill. It was only fitting that we did not have enough fuel to get home. Gotta pay for this surely on-loan snow somehow. Does Ullr have good interest rates? How long will it take for us to pay this back?