The downside of my dream job is that I teach Saturday mornings, which cuts
into skiing. But I'm on my March break. Plans for Wednesday with a friend
from work, A., fell through, moved back to Sunday. Originally, I had
planned on introducing him to Mad River. But intelligence reports suggested
nay. With the forecast for rain/sleet/snow, I figured the best chance for
the most snow would be Stowe.

As the grey of a stormy dawn fought away the blackness, I loaded my Pious
and headed down to the pond. The hull of the overturned launch lying on the
dock that earlier in the season had served as a bench for lacing up skates
was just beginning to emerge from the ice. And crew season begins in one
week! I trudged up back to the front of my dorm as I saw my friend and
colleague A. pull up. After laying his skis on top of mine, we headed off
through the wastelands of New Hampshire to the promised land. We
encountered little if any rain and by the time we arrived at the parking
lot, we had been driving through snow and wind for some miles.

A. purchased his ticket, and I headed down to the chamber of porcelain
alters, which needed some watering. Then I figured, why not check and see
who's in town. The first name I came upon in my $15 prepaid fliphone's
address book: Bruno. He picked up. "Hey, Bruno. It's Ben K." "Yea?" "Are
you & K. by any chance at Stowe today?" "I might be at the bottom of the
gondi. Why?" "Great, we're just below the quad"...A wait for the
wind-slowed quad and a quick run down Nosedive later, and there were those
bright orange jacket and pants, followed by Bruno's darker form. I
introduced A. to them, and we headed up the gondola.

I can't ever recall skiing a trail with Bruno, so why start now? We headed
off into the dangerous wilds beyond the bounds. The traverse out seemed
quick enough and we pushed beyond the spongy cake to untracked lines. Bruno
mentioned something about there being a question, and the only question I
could think of was, who was going to get first tracks down that sweet line.
I answered selfishly. But, truthfully, there was plenty for everyone. And
the snow kept on falling. So, after a quick change into less insulated
layers (I've found that, at Stowe and Mad River, unless it's down near
zero, a midweight baselayer and my shell are sufficient--any more is too
hot), and we headed back for more.

Our cohabitants in the gondola revealed they were headed in the same
direction. Indeed, the safety stop was crowded full. At some point along
the way, one of us said to a random man, "go ahead." He replied, "No, I'm
following you." Enter Emile. Emile is from New York. Emile had read a Ski
Magazine article that the locals at the safety stop had been hctibing about
as being responsible for the crowds. He proudly pulled it out of his
jacket. It showed everything. And apparently had written descriptions, too.
Emile had come up from The City. Because of this article. His plan was to
follow others into the woods. TEO, can't you reign in Joey Tucks?!

It wasn't a marital spat, but K. said, "Let's ditch him." Bruno replied
that it wouldn't be responsible, now that we were far out, to leave him
alone. And Emile could ski well enough. And although he was a walking,
talking New York stereotype, he was nice, and frankly, if I put myself in
his shoes, can I blame him? As we headed over to the Octagon for lunch, he
asked for parting advice. We encouraged him, since he was alone, to stick
by the trails--plenty good woods to explore. Hiking up above the lifts
alone wasn't wise with no visibility and no knowledge of the routes down.

After our late lunch, we sampled the delightful glades above and beside
diverse trails. The snow was good, even deep in places, and in spite of Ski
Magazine, plenty remained untracked. It was great to ski with Bruno & K.
and to (re-)introduce A. to Stowe. Originally from the East, A. had spent
years teaching and skiing abroad, most recently in the Alps. Before that,
in Turkey. Who knew the Turks ski? Turns out, they don't. They just take
the lift up and down and then brag to their friends that they spent the
weekend skiing.

May the gods of Vermont weather continue to surprise us with good fortune!

--caveat lector

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