We are starting to feel it, there’s a new nip in the air. The air feels different…charged and biting, but with slightly rounded edges. There is the smell of pending snow. Or maybe not…maybe it’s just the memory of the smell of actual snow that intrudes when the air gets that feeling. Whatever it is, it’s exciting.
The anticipation is almost too much to handle. My board is waxed. My bag is packed. I am ready to go. All we need is the snow. There are 4 trails open at Killington. But we don’t get to get away much with the shop. We can’t waste a precious couple of days with 2000 people sharing 4 trails. That’s not what snowboarding is about for us.
Sure, pretty much any snow day is a good day. But they are definitely not all created equal. What we really crave are the days where you wake up to fresh snow and a deserted mountain. When you can breathe in that crisp, fresh, mountain air. When you need to put on sunscreen to block the rays reflecting from the sunny, blue sky that gently warms you despite the cold temperature. Those are the best days in the backcountry when no one else is out, and you have the place to yourself.
In the parking lot as we get our skins on our splitboards and load our packs on our backs, we need to stop and take it all in. With splitboarding, the journey is the reward. The ride down is great, but you also have to love the way up. Pushing yourself…feeling your legs and lungs burn the whole way, taking it all in, feeling everything- you can’t get that on a ski lift.
The snow crunches lightly under your board as you break trail. It’s like the mountains refreshed overnight, just for you. Like you are the only ones who have ever been there. There is something very pure about that untouched piece of nature….even if it’s only in your mind.
When you get to the top and take in the view, you celebrate the trip up and pick your path down as you transition from skis back to your board. Soon you will be gliding down the mountain on a cloud made of snow. Once you set off, time speeds back up and you are flying. Five minutes later, you are at the bottom. The two-hour trek for the five-minute ride is totally worth it because you love the whole journey.
Anticipating that first day is the hardest part. At night when you try to fall asleep, you stare at the ceiling, picking your line, surfing down the mountain in suspended animation in your mind. This is why we count the days until winter every year. Even though we love spring, summer, and fall…winter has a special quiet solitude that allows you to connect to nature in a uniquely unspoiled way.
The good news is that we are almost there. My board is waxed. My bag is packed. I am ready to go. All we need is snow.