Today Chris and I rolled back the clock at MRG and got way more than we expected for our $3.50. I haven't skied a whole lot yet this season, but it was easily the best day of my otherwise lame season so far. The overall conditions were about 8" of fluff over a hard base. This was gradually chewed up on the trails, and some spots were scraped down to that nasty hard base, but it wasn't difficult to find the soft spots. The summit stake read 18", so neither of us was too gung-ho about the usual woods runs, but we found some remarkably good low-angle lines off the double, including a few lines of shin-deep untracked. Chris enjoyed both L.A. runs, while the high points for me were the Quacky neighborhood and the overlooked corners of Birdland.

The temperature was comfortable, the crowd was happy, and the atmosphere was festive, with demos and free samples from Vermont food producers, including soup, sausage, cookies, granola, cheese, and generous bowls of Ben and Jerry's mint chocolate chunk ice cream.

This was the first real test of my new Black Diamond Joules. It took me a few runs to make the adjustment from my old Explosivs, but once I did they responded nicely. They don't have the crud-busting power of the Explosivs, but at about 3.5 pounds lighter, that's to be expected.
The two skis have almost exactly the same dimensions, but that doesn't mean they ski the same, and once I realized that the lightweight Joules don't like to be stomped on like the Explosivs, I began skiing with more finesse (which is the way I prefer to ski anyway) and they happily handled all the bumps and crud I threw them at with ease. The only problem I found was realizing that when I mounted the bindings, I forgot that as a women's ski, the centerline is a little bit forward of what I'm used to (maybe about an inch or less). I could consider remounting them, or I could get used to the way they are, which is what I did, and they're fine.

Unfortunately it looks like the precipitation tonight and tomorrow will be of the liquid variety, so once again it looks like it'll be two steps forward and one step back. Or one step forward and two steps back. Or something. I was glad to get it while we could.

Dave G.

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