It was a real drag going from Bear Creek to Magic, where I had to share
the mountain with a hundred other dirtbags instead of a dozen of
America's finest. But after all, it Magic is "public" ski area.. sigh.
Despite this handicap I was able to ski powder, in some form or another,
on every run.

Though I sampled just about every part of the hill I quickly discovered
that the best and deepest snow was around Twilight Zone and Goniff. But,
true to form, I wasn't satisfied and went off exploring all over the
hill. Talisman-Sorcerer woods were a fine diversion, though I found the
upper sections, in the softwoods, to be thin on base. Big pines (or
spruces, or firs, didn't look close enough) have a nasty habit of
blocking some snowfall in their thick canopies. Further down, in the
hardwoods, the once brushy finish (site of much cursing at the Magic
skivt gathering) had been trimmed nicely  and was chock full of boot
deep powder. Sorcerer woods were much of the same, with a little more in
the stump/snow snake dept. The trees on this side of the mountain aren't
the steepest but are certainly the longest, with a couple rivaling
typical glades in Northern VT. I found a new glade off Magician, and
enjoyed a quiet evergreen shrouded traverse along a sunny bank. This
kind of terrain is Magic's specialty; it has some of the most varied and
unique forest of any ski area in VT.

The lack of base in the evergreens drove me onto the trails for a couple
runs, and I tried the Red Line and Master Magician. Red Line was in fine
shape, much better than the whip cluttered Lucifer adjacent it. There is
a big, usually snow covered, ledge about 200 ft below the top (the
official top) that had been left alone. It's a two step cliff and you
can either charge straight over both of them or avoid the lower one. The
snow was deep so I hit it hard. The landing on the step was much deeper
than I expected (don't you just love that?) and I got thrown onto my
tails as my skis blasted through it. My heart leapt as I charged off the
second, bigger, drop in bad position WAY back on my tails. To make
matters worse I dropped both my poles in there somewhere. As I crested
the lip it took all my strength to yank myself back up over my skis.
somehow it all came together and I landed perfectly, poles back in hand,
without missing a beat. As I came to a stop above the next headwall I
looked in to the sky and could swear I saw Yoda, Obi Wan, and Darth
smiling through the clouds...

Master Magician was an entirely different animal. Granted it was against
my better judgment to ski it, but if I'm not challenging myself I get
bored skiing alone -- so I dropped in. The top of the trail was was
pretty frightening on Sunday; heck, it's pretty frightening ANY day.
But on Sunday there were strong northwesterly winds blowing UP the
trail, strong enough so that the rope across the top was arced out over
Wizard and as you skied along Wizard a constant jet of snow blasted over
the edge at a 40 degree angle. The top hundred feet of MM was pockets of
wind slab snaking through islands of saplings, which were probably the
only reason there was any snow there at all. But, it didn't look
unskiable so I figured I'd test myself. Just past the horizon line I
discovered just how bad a closed trail can get. Kids, this is why they
rip your tickets when you get caught doing this sort of thing. Almost
half the trail from Wizard down to Broomstick was ice. Now when I say
ice I'm not talking about flat steep porcelain that you'd find on the
worst late afternoon McIce trail -- I'm talking about glacier blue,
bulging, hard as rock, proceed only with crampons ICE. About 150 feet of
it. Enough so that if you fell on the uppermost bulge, you'd probably
shortly find yourself bloody and unconscious on the Broomstick catwalk.
My line choice from above was to stay to the right, in the trees where I
figured there would be more snow. WRONG. Two turns into it I could see
that there was not enough to ski over there and that I'd have to get
myself to the narrow ribbon of wind slab on the far left, on the OTHER
side of the ice. Bummer. So, ever so delicately I traversed out across
it on a somewhat snowy ledge, keeping my sights on the far side to which
I'd gun it if my dull edges started to blow. They didn't, I made it, and
to my surprise the slab was actually powder.. and the run ended well.

You'd think the last experience would be enough to learn me into skiing
like a good boy. It wasn't, and I would have one more adventure before
the day was through. As I was scouting around for skiable lines in the
trees on skiers right side of the mountain, near the old triple, I
noticed some tracks leading down the old triple liftline -- one of the
old double diamonds. It started out well but quickly turned into that
famous Magic impenetrable puckerbrush. Well, now the day was complete,

For the last half dozen runs I treated myself to knee deep powder in
various untracked lines in the Twi-Gon woods. It was so deep in there --
so silky and quiet. Just when a line seemed to end I'd find another
untracked corridor. One of the things I live for is that feeling you get
when you're at the end of a line in the woods. Just when it all seems to
be closing in and you're about to jam on the E-brake in a last ditch
attempt to stop. And right then a tiny opening grabs your eye, and in an
instant all your momentum and focus is on that tiny opening, channeled
through that opening. Things are whizzing by so fast that your brain is
forced to prioritize before sending information to the control center.
You don't even know what they are, you don't need to, all that matters
is directly in front of you, speeding toward you. Jump! Block! Duck!
Punch! Turn! Go! Go! Go! Everything beyond that opening is immaterial,
just get there. You blast into it, desperately searching beyond for some
kind relief until at the last possible second another hidden swath of
white crystalline perfection reveals itself, waiting for you. Focus
wanes, you relax, turn turn turn, slow down, breath.... until the woods
begin to tighten their grip again, you start to accelerate, and
everything gets focused on that next little opening.


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