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Sunday afternoon, just rolled back in to NYC after a fantastic, 8-day
1785 mile circle through northern VT and PQ. Started with a great
Ski-Vter day at Jay, held in Marc Guido's honor and unfortunate absence.
Condolences to your in-laws, Marc, and thanks to you--more on that
subject in a minute.

Jay 12/28
  Others have reported, so just a runthrough. A quick meeting with the
plaid crew in the Stateside lodge and my main concern for the day was
settled. Mark Renson, Eric K and brother Mike and his fiancee Jane would
do a couple runs then meet me after I dropped off Laura for a snowboard
lesson, giving me a chance to get Laura started at Jay--her first time
there--then catch up with the posse for some fun. As we started out,
Eric wanted to know, was tree skiing OK?
  Ab-so-lutely!
  Had great, mid-shin powder glade runs all morning. I was workin my
butt off to keep up with the crew--EricK rips lines through the tight
trees like nothin could be easier--but nobody seemed too upset by me
holding them up. Meanwhile (caution: lame excuse coming) my leather
boots were coming unbuckled with every hard turn--I felt like I was
skiing in slippers.
  Did Canyonland a few times and Timbuktu--geez I love that trail. The
trees are open enough to allow some leeway but sort of random in a way
that makes me feel like a Tim-buk-pinball bouncin through there.
  Mark Renson, by the way, is a walking topographical encyclopedia. He
knew details of the terrain near my home in CT's Litchfield hills that I
couldn't tell you. He says he likes nothing better than poring over topo
maps, but somehow he also gets out and scouts vast territories in
person. He's an amazing resource. Hope to run into you again, Mark,
(although the MRG 1/10-11 demo day we talked about is not possible).
  [Aside to lift: Climb High in Burlington is doing $25 demo days at MRG
this coming weekend. If I understand right, that includes lift ticket
and all the equipment you can try.]
  A quick half-run with Peter Murray, then caught up and skied with
daughter Laura after her snowboard lesson. Guess what? She loves Jay,
loves glades. Just turned 15 and my daughter this year is amazing me
with her progress on the slopes. She boards with an enthusiasm I've
never seen from her before (including years of XC) and--I swear I didn't
teach her this--gripes about over-grooming and goes ranging across the
trails searching for powder lines. Makes a daddy so proud. She had a
great day on Jay blue glades Bushwacker and Moonwalk.

Massif 12/29
  Saturday afternoon, returned from Jay to Burlington, picked up wife
Barbara then drove to Quebec. That night, as I check the family into the
Frontenac, the clerk hands me an envelope. It's Marc Guido's business
card (I think he sells insurance or something) with just one brief
message: "Make sure to poach La Martine at Le Massif."
  Sunday morning Laura and I are finally on our way to see this mountain
I've been interested in for so long. The drive, once past Ste. Anne and
on down a largely uninhabited 4 lane, is beautiful. It's at least 1
hour:15 from Quebec. The temps yhis morning are dipping down into the
-15 F range.
  The last 10 miles twists down a two-lane asphalt black diamond,
dropping from the mountain's ridge straight to the tiny village at the
edge of the St. Lawrence. Truly nervous-making.
  At the bottom, maybe 75 houses cling to the edge of the majestic
river, its shore now covered in rime. Are the residents fishermen? I
have no idea, but what a cool little ski-town (in a scenic, if not
activity/night-life, sense).
  Massif the resort is a smallish place, on a biggish mountain. It's got
more vertical--23-2500 feet?--than I've ever skied and basically only
one long lift (summit area was closed).
  In fact, almost all the mountain was closed. As I'd been warned,
Massif grooms bru..., um, enthusiastically, and closes what it cannot
buff. All that was open was one long blue cruiser.
  That's the bad news. The rest is good. #1: They charged half price
because of closings, which made the day's skiing for me and Laura $21
US. The staff was friendly, in a genuine, human way that you don't see
often enough in any of the places I've ever skied (and I'm not ONLY
talking about the ASC mega-lodges either). Nobody said it, but the
feeling I got from each employee was, "thank you for coming to our
mountain."
  The place is drop-jaw beautiful. You see the huge St. Lawrence off and
on from top to bottom, getting closer and immenser with every vertical
foot you shed. It's worth going for nothing more than the view.
  The lodge is modern and comfortable, a rare combination. The
cafeteria, as has been reported, serves 5-star, cafeteria cuisine. No,
it's not a fine restaurant--you still eat off a tray--but the food has
flavor and taste. For about 5 bucks US I had saucisses de Merguez en
sauce moutarde, along with delicious potatoes and peas and carrots. Food
worth stopping for lunch for, which is something I never do.
  What about the skiing? With so little open, I can't give any kind of
serious report. Laura and I kept playing in the ungroomed side stuff, a
10-inch lip up from the piste. Up-down, off-on the lip, over and over we
went. No one else seemed to even consider touching it. I think
Quebeckers, as a group, ski fast. Even the beginner/intermediates were
flying down the well-smoothed slopes. Later I noticed a sign, asking
people SVP to ne skier pas off the groomed surfaces. Strange attitude.
Finally, with the day nearing a close, it was time to take Marc G's
poaching advice.
  I'm not too comfortable with the poaching idea, but I was hardly going
to let Marc's words go to waste. The trail he mentioned, La Martine,
veers off the main trail just after a dip. It's eminently poachable in
that you're almost invisible while turning off and completely out of
sight after 4 turns.
  The trail had all the fun and character that had been missing all
morning. Dips, turns, double fall lines and medium-steeps. The snow was
a crunchy sort of packed powder. Edges cut into it easily. Fun stuff to
ski, with contours and small moguls. Thanks Marc. La Martine was a
sweet, sweet ski.
  The run-out was unusual in that instead of a long shallow grade, it
had several (3?) biiig dips, followed by uphills. Had a blast. Skied the
same thing again. Then was met by an unamused patroller as I exited.
  I took some List advice (from Brad McC?) and admitted I was wrong and
that I was stupid but I just couldn't help myself and I'd
never-jamais-ever do it again. The patroller looked stern and said he'd
have to punch my ticket--and then warned me that two more punches and
he'd have no choice but to take my ticket away!!!!!! (it was already 2;
lifts closed at 3)
  I used my bad French to rub it in, saying I wasn't sure I understood
and did he really mean that I had two more poaching chances? He couldn't
quite keep from smiling a bit at the corners of his mouth as he
patiently explained that's right--but don't let him catch me on Martine
again, eh? Mais non, monsieur, of course not!  It had been a great day
already.
  (By the way, Le 42, Massif's major double-black, was quite closed. The
entrance was closely guarded by the lift-ops, and being unfamiliar to me
and totally remote from any other part of the trails, I reluctantly
abandoned any thought of sampling its charms.)


This post is going on too long, so I'll wrap up for now. The telenaut
epic in quebec will be continued, with thoughts on Mt. Sutton, Quebec
City/Montreal night life (or lack thereof), holiday crowds (or lack
thereof), strange solar light displays and 50-degree-F-temp-swings-in 24
hours. People who feel that this what-I-did-on-my-vacation verbarhea is
a waste of bandwith are invited to make their opinions known, at which
point I will immediately cease and desist, providing at least 10 listers
feel that that is what I should do and no one has expressed a pathetic,
contrarian desire to actually hear any more of this stuff. (Obviously, I
would be honor bound to honor any such request.)

More later,
hope it's of interest,

--dan telenaut