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I buzzed up to Stoneham this a.m. for a quick 4-hour romp before the
family festivities.  Due to the holiday, they didn't fire up the lifts
until 10:00.

Last night's snow was actually too dry and light (did I actually say
that??!!).  As a result, it didn't stick to the ice from the weather
earlier this week where it wasn't groomed.  Stoneham has actually added
some funky terrain this year (finally) in the form of two glades, or
Sous-Bois.  They were fun, actually.  The one serviced by the detachable
bubble quad had a nice pitch at the top, a flat in the middle, with a
decent pitch again toward the end.  It was boot-top powder and chowder,
atop a firm, crusty base.

The one off the quad to the far right looking up, however, was ugly -
and closed.  It was thick, breakable crust beneath the new snow, and
proved to be a challenge to ski.  Closing it was stupid, however - what
it needs is skier traffic to break up the crust.  This glade is
significantly steeper than the other one, with a sustained pitch.

Other than that, it was high-speed groomed cruising except for trail #1,
which is natural snow only.  Ice on the groomers was minimal - for the
most part, the new snow was tilled into the old surface to a wonderful
consistency.  They were making snow *everywhere*, it seemed, and
groomers were out this afternoon pushing around swales as high as 15
feet.  I've never seen a bucket loader employed to move around swales,
but they were.

Crowds were relatively light, but you were never lonely, except in le
Sous-Bois.  In about a half-dozen runs in the trees, I only saw people
on one of them - and I was the only 2-planker.

That'll do it for this trip, but I'll be back up north in 5 weeks.
Expect full feature articles with photos on First Tracks!! shortly after
I return home.

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Marc Guido               Hunter 34 s/v "Drive South"
Sarasota, FL

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First Tracks!! Online Ski Magazine: http://www.FirstTracksOnline.com
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