The plan had two major elements:
- Head to Okemo and compare the conditions to the second week in December.
- Explore the green summit runs with a 6-year-old who is gaining confidence.
All seemed to be finally falling into place this season, and the Vermont resort had 100 percent of its terrain open. Then, a slight snag … it WAS the 2011-12 season, after all. Sleet and freezing rain were pelting the region overnight and by 5:30 a.m. on Saturday it was still drizzling.
It was raining on Interstate 91 through Enfield and into Massachusetts. Even at Exit 6 in Vernon, it was still raining. Ugh.
So I went to the rental shop and got my daughter fitted anyway. What the heck, it is still better than that fateful weekend in December, where the two of us were relegated to the magic carpet and the bunny hill because of the logjam at the only open top-to-bottom summit run.
Thank goodness for the pool and the Timber Ripper mountain coaster.
But last week was no leisurely weekend. It was a day trip dedicated to skiing — period. So when the rain stopped precisely at 9:30 a.m., we both just smiled. The morning drizzle left a nice soft surface that was perfect for the meandering cruisers we were about to ski.
Two runs on the lower mountain made two things perfectly clear — it was going to be a good March over the long term and a darn good day over the short.
Once we went to the summit, the trick was to make it safe and manageable for the 6-year-old but still relatively exciting for me (I can be a black-cruiser and double-black glade maniac).
We decided on the Solitude area of the mountain. It is generally the least populated section of the resort and the trail system is easy to navigate.
We plotted a long course from the summit to the bottom of Solitude. We started on East Ride, hung a left onto Sunburst and then to Coleman Brook.
We made a beeline to Sidewinder to ski a blue trail briefly and then snuck onto Moonshadow. We crossed bridges, went through tunnels and toured the neighborhood of homes in the area.
It all made the good snow that much more enjoyable.
What's the moral of the story here? The trip was an example of winter finally redeeming itself this season.
Yes, Okemo is one of the model resorts in terms of grooming and conditions, but it all has to be a sign that it's going to be a very good late-season run.