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        With high hopes, I headed to MRG very early Saturday morning.  On Saturday,
the patrol held  special lift evacuation training which I attended mostly out
of boredom.  Using a body harness and mechanical ascenders for the first time,
I struggled a bit more than I thought I would.  Howard, who is well in excess
of 75 years old and has one of the (if not indeed the) longest tenure of
service in the entire National Ski Patrol (he is a piece of history, having
worked at the 1960 Squaw Valley Olympics among other things) gave me a good
razzing over this.  Later, stubborn Howard insisted that he try it, much to the
apprehension of everyone in attendance.  But the PD obliged and whaddya' know,
about 1/3 of the way up, someone grumbled under his breath "that stubborn SOB
is gonna' do it" and Howard did.  As he struggled up, I thought of a National
Geographic film I saw titled "The Height of Courage" which was about a man had
assisted Admiral Byrd at the South Pole in an earlier life and who returned at
age 89 to overcome several hurdles to bag a peak that Byrd hand named after
him.  Once back down on the ground, Howard felt humbled and apologized to me
which he did not have to do - hey I thought he was funny.
        Lift evac was acutally a load of fun.
        After lift evac, 3 of us set up a Christmas tree on the Basebox porch that I
had brought up from Mass.  A few months ago, I received a shocking e-Mail from
a fellow MRG skier explaining that he was a close cousin of Jeremy Glick
(Flight 93) and a day before Thanksgiving, I got word that long lost college
buddy I had not seen in years was not going to be with his family on
Thanksgiving but instead spend it as a charred, mangled corpse under the tons
of rubble of what used to be the WTC.  Given events like that in this day &
age, I - E. Scrooge - feel it necessary to now celebrate the holidays and do it
in a more respectable manner than what we used to do in college which was pour
a few beers from the evening quarter keg, fire up the bong and watch The Grinch
on TV.  So, I called up the MRG Office and got permission to set up a tree
which has traditionally been a volunteer effort done at the last minute by the
MRG Community, plus a ski area staff is usually very busy at this time of year,
getting an operation put together for the Holy Season.
        Well, after overcoming many unanticipated logistical hurdles, we were about
2/3 complete when the project was halted due to darkness.  Lu Putnam assisted
me and if you know MRG, you know Lu and you know that leaving this project
incomplete was not an option.
        That night, I ran into Todd Fisher at the Mad Mountain Tavern and then
semi-lurker Spencer at Borngiornos where he was a bad influence, though the $5
cover for "The Deadbeats" went to a good local cause.
        This morning, I awoke to 2-3" of new.  The Stark Reality was that the storm
headed south and left us with brilliant sunshine.  Some folks were headed up,
but it just did not seem worth it.  Anyway, we had a task to complete as Lu and
I finished the Great Christmas Tree Project which if I knew it took only half
the effort that it did, I would have balked !  It ain't the greatest looking
tree, but it does what it is intended to do. We both got a good laugh over
this, but in this day & age, it must be done.  Lu then put me in charge for
next year.  uh-oh.

Mark

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