Bolton Valley, VT 09DEC2007


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Our friends Tracy and Mike had spent the night after skiing on Saturday, but decided that the one day of skiing was enough for their first trip of the season.  We then had a leisurely morning at the house, enjoyed a big breakfast, and around mid morning, Tracy and Mike headed home to Massachusetts.  I hadnt made ski plans for the day, not knowing what Tracy and Mike would want to do, but with a free afternoon and good snow on the slopes, it seemed like it was time to get in some additional skiing.  E needed to stay home and work, and unfortunately the boys arent at the age yet where I can ski with both of them by myself (at least very easily) so the plan was for just Ty and me to head up to the mountain.  It also seemed to us like Dylan was tired from the previous day, and we figured he could use a rest.  Whether he was tired or not, it didnt stop him from questioning Me dee?, me dee? (Me ski?, me ski?) as soon as he saw Ty and I getting our gear together.  Fortunately, Dylan took it well when E told him that hed be staying home with her, but it was nice to see that he was interested in going without any overt prompting


The big additions for Ty on this outing were his poles.  From what Ive seen, the decision to add poles to a childs ski ensemble seems quite arbitrary, and its hard to really know when its time.  Ty has been asking about poles essentially since hes been able to talk, and actually knows how to use them (at least to the degree that E and I know how to use them).  Ty has been playing around with our poles for a long time, even though theyre too long for him, hell choke up on them to use them.  Finally this fall, we got him some correctly-sized poles of his own (both downhill and cross country) at the ski swaps.  He loves to get out on dry land with his poles.  He plants them and turns around them as he runs all over the yard, and up and down the driveway, and he actually looks pretty fluid in the process.  So I have no idea what the real rules to pole use are for kids learning to ski, but he seemed ready enough to give it a shot.


We got up to the mountain to find a temperature of around 20 F, and although it started out looking like it was going to be sunny, clouds quickly moved in and it even snowed a bit.  We started off with a couple runs off the Snowflake lift.  As wed seen the previous day, they were blowing a ton of snow on the terrain park with both the more traditional and fan-style snow guns to get the area into shape.  Im guessing temperatures and humidity had been good for making snow, because they had quite a bounty of snow and they were even shutting down the guns while we were there.  Although the fan guns arent very loud, having them shut off the regular guns was nice for both riding the lift and skiing in the area around the terrain park, since the result was a much quieter scene.  The Foxy and Bentley trails werent quite as fun as the previous day, because they had groomed them and removed the fluffy inch or two of powder that had been there.  But, there were still areas that hadnt been groomed at all, such as the skiers left of Snowflake Bentley.


It was interesting to observe Tys pole use in this area.  He did a pretty good job of planting his poles and generally turning around them on the more groomed slopes, but his concentration seemed to go out the window when he got into the chowder.  He at least held the poles in front of him or off to the sides, but when he stopped concentrating on them because of the more difficult snow, theyd just be out there in the air.  He obviously still needs work to get his pole planting to become instinctive under all conditions, but it looks like hell get there.  At this point my plan isnt to have him bring his poles out every day, but focus on letting him work with them on our smaller outings.  The beauty of Ty having his poles with him however is that he can push himself along through any flat or slightly uphill areas that we encounter.  He certainly seems to be enjoying that aspect of pole use very much, and although his pace on the flats is still slow compared to mine, its nice to let him propel himself instead of always needing assistance.  On the lift, having his poles with us has added another layer to the whole loading and unloading process.  I still need to hold Ty when were loading, so I go with all four poles in one hand, and him in the other.  My hand is pretty full with all the poles, so I dont have a lot of extra finger use to grab the chair lift poles in case I need balance, but it has worked so far.  Ive taught Ty the usual process of sitting on his poles during the lift ride so he doesnt have to worry about them, and then he hands them back to me before we unload.  Ty is very eager to unload from the chair lift by himself, and although I was skeptical at first, hes accomplished that task with no problem in the case of the Snowflake Lift.  He cant unload unaided yet on other, faster chairs with higher seats and steep unloading areas, but at least on Snowflake he can now relieve me of one hand during the unloading process.  With the four poles in my other hand, thats helpful.


After a couple of runs in the Snowflake area, we headed to the Vista Quad.  Ty was interested in checking out the Enchanted Forest area, so we generally followed Shermans Pass to that one.  With the topmost parts of Alta Vista and the associated chute trails still being icy and wind blown as the previous day, we skipped those and stuck to Shermans Pass proper.  This meant using the flatter area of Shermans Pass that traverses under the Vista Quad, but Ty had his poles and got to use them to shuffle across.  I was intrigued that Ty mentioned this was the spot where that snowboarder had run into him last season; it seems as he really remembers that episode.  Ty had a lot of fun making fluffy turns in the trees of the Enchanted Forest area, and I was happy to see that he could negotiate the glades well, even on his longer skis.


Having enjoyed the Enchanted Forest area, Ty wanted to do it again, and I let him know that we could take the Mid Mountain Chair and it would bring us right back there.  By the time wed completed our ride on the Mid Mountain Chair however, hed become interested in what was underneath him, so we ended up taking Beech Seal.  That was fun, and with the natural northward progression wed seemed to be following on the mountain, we just decided to head to connect to the Wilderness Chair after that.  I took Ty all the way to the Wilderness summit, and we had a nice long run of Peggys Dow combined with the Turnpike trail that hed worked on so much the previous day.  At the bottom of the lift we met patroller Quinn, whom Id skied with on the previous Tuesday.  When we mentioned that wed skied Turnpike, he commented as well that he thinks its one of the best trails on the mountain.  We decided to head home after that run, but had a lot of fun skiing our way to the car, descending the snowbanks through the village and catching a few more stretches of powder.  I toppled off the top of one of the snowbanks as I was trying to balance on its narrow ridge with my skis, and Ty got a kick out of that.  Even though I found that the temperature was actually up to 23 F when we eventually reached the car, it was one of those days where the clouds had come in and for some reason it felt notably colder.  Sometimes moving at a slower pace with Ty can keep things a little cooler as well.  The altimeters had recorded 5 runs, with 3,120 of descent on the Avocet, and 3,091 on the Suunto, a difference of 0.9%.


A few pictures from the day can be found at:



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