No Porcelain art or Anathema or Heresy here. Just good times.
Saturday, I decided the best way to enjoy what I assumed to be lousy conditions was to take my not-quite 5 year old and fully explore all the trails at Morse. We did that and more, hitting the little banks and whoop-de-whoops on the side of the trails as well as ducking into some short paths through the woods. Sonya's highlight of the day was when we both skied a full run putting our arms out like wings and banking them through the turns pretending we were flying fairies. She giggled uncontrollably all the way down the hill and half way back up.
Sunday, Sonya was in Mini Mites and Amy was nursing the lingering effects of a ladies night out. Thinking conditions would suck, I wasn't in a rush to hit the trails, and went to The Family Table in Jeffersonville for an excellent Cream Cheese & Rasperry Stuffed French Toast(I recommend the place as my favorite eatery around Smuggs). Satiated and caffeinated, I headed up the hill w/o any expectations, or I should say dark expectations, but I knew that all but two small areas of Sterling were open and I was curious to see just how bad a condition Smuggs would allow you to ski.
On the first run down Black Snake I encountered no ice so I decided to venture into Deer Run glades as they were completely untracked. Being low on the mountain and fairly steep, Deer Run is notorious for obstacles sticking out of the snow. But a firm, edgeable crust under a couple inches of fresh kept most of the obstacles hidden.
After that I headed for Highlander glades, where I found a completely untracked line down the left. As I pulled out of Highlander and into Poachers I ran into Ben B and we both enjoyed more untouched snow there. At this point we looked at each other with the same thought in mind:"Should I ask if he wants to try the b*******s?"
From that point the day became almost excellent. First tracks down a line off the Geriatric Entrance were so pleasant that we headed back for the same entrance. On our way out for that 2nd run we noticed that new snow was covering our footsteps and no one else had been out that way. And so followed a second run of first tracks in the Geriatric area. 3 or 4 inches on top of the crust skied very nicely in the lower angled bottom half of the bowls, and the crust made us more confident than last week because there was no chance of hitting some thing lurking 12" beneath the surface.
The confidence made us want to explore steeper, so we headed to The Ear. We hesitated at the steep and jumbled crux, but didn't need to, as it had blown in and skied great. The surprise came just below the crux section, which was apparently where all the snow on the crux had blown in from. That section didn't take kindly to confident & fast skiing. Lower down, we again found good low angled, if a bit schwacky, powder turns.
With such success, we felt the need to up the ante and try something stupider, er, steeper. On the lift, we decided on Low IQ. Neither of us had skied it this year, and we knew it could be lots-of hazards bad or lots-of-slickness bad. As we got off the lift, we commented on a slight sense of dread. But, what the heck, it was first tracks again, so why not? And it was better than fine. Yes the steeps were slick under the new snow, but not so slick that you couldn't edge. And the lurking obstacles never seemed to materialize, though we skied quite cautiously.
Having had 4 runs of first tracks, we stayed inbounds for a run of Hersheys and Strawberries. Though these had been skied, there were still plenty of untracked areas at 2:00, including a phenomenal bit of reserved trail skiing. But the run alternated between soft and scratch, so it was my least favorite run of the day.
To finish off the day, we bombed down a surprisingly excellent groomer and then traversed out under a set of cliffs for a couple hundred verts of untracked low el powder, where breakable crust was finally enough of an issue to detract from the enjoyment, but not enough to make it unenjoyable.
So, though not great, it was one of the best days of a not-too-great season.
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