I wish I could say I was heading north this weekend to ski on a five foot base where snow piles are glistening still. I wish I could flash a goggle tan as I switch to spring skiing gloves and a soft shell jacket. The winter of 2015-16 in New England shocked all of us after last season’s plentiful snow. Significantly warmer than average temperatures, lack of precipitation and frequent thaw freeze patterns made the winter, well, foolish.
This is no surprise to those who follow the winter season across New England. We waited. We hoped. We never gave up…but winter did. She just never showed up.
I could be bitter as I sit here on April 1st with my yard blooming at least one month ahead of the norm. I could be kicking the baseboard with my hiking boot had I not switched (already) to mud season footwear. In spite of the horrific lack of cold and snow, I remain grateful for another winter shared in the company of my snow loving family and friends.
January took me to Mount Snow in Vermont for the annual Kids of Courage winter event Superbly handled by the AbilityPLUS, Inc. volunteers, over fifty physically challenged children and young adults rejoiced as they skied in spite of the teeming rain that fell all day. There may have been a total deficit of snow and cold but the smiles lit up the hill. I am a better person for having been a part of this day.
February found me traveling northward to Camden, Maine where I had previously only visited in the summer. The welcome that small town gave to a group of ski journalists (North American Association of Snowspnorts Journalists/EAST) felt like a warm hug. For three days, we became part of the U S Toboggan National Championships and celebrated Mardi Gras as only Camden can. Although the snow conditions were variable at best, I did get to the summit of the Camden Snow Bowl where I caught the view of the Atlantic in the near distance.
As March chimed in and the snow remained elusive, I headed back to Mount Snow for the annual meeting with my ski writer friends and colleagues. With a temperature of 72 degrees, I have never skied in such tropical air. With bare hands and heads, we traversed patches of snow avoiding the soil that is usually not seen until May. The following day, rain fell from the sky but many of the stoic ski writers took to the lifts because any day on skis is a great day. This is why I love this gaggle of folks. If you want to be around people who love winter look no further. The NASJA/E posse, informally defined as a group of people who have a common characteristic, occupation or purpose, can take any day on snow and make it fabulous…it doesn’t matter where or when. I left Mount Snow feeling the love even if the ground was too bare for my liking.
Between those adventures, “winter” found me at my home mountain, Waterville Valley in New Hampshire. With a positive attitude, they, like all resorts throughout New England, did their best to groom the ungroomable and make snow during short windows of opportunity only to have it lost to fog. The loyal skiers and riders still made the trek northward in spite of less than awesome conditions. Still, the hot chocolate flowed, perhaps with some Schnapps added early, and the fireworks lit the dark winter sky. The hiking trails were less snow covered but still trekked by those who love the outdoors.
Many say it was the winter that wasn’t but for me, it was yet another season to enjoy good company where the land rises skyward as mountains and stars gleam just a bit brighter.
I have no regrets and will eagerly wait for next winter’s first snowfall.