Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Telemark Dreams

On Sunday afternoon, as I picked a wide line through the woods between the Goat trail and the Nosedive trail on Mt. Mansfield, I marveled at the amount of woods available for skiing in Stowe. I also marveled at the amount of snow under my boards. It was the second day of March, and we'd just had the snowiest February ever. Well, maybe we didn't have the snowiest February ever, but Burlington did. Don't get me wrong; we had a bunch of snow last month, and the snow at the stake at the top of Mt. Mansfield was in record territory. All that snow pushed me deeper and deeper into the woods.
Woods skiing in Stowe is unlike other places. Along the edge of the trails the puckerbush is tight and thick, discouraging off-piste experimentation. But push through that initial tangle, and you'll discover another world of skiing, enough skiing to effectively double Stowe's skiable terrain. Here's another secret of woods skiing: No matter how long it's been since the last snowfall, you can almost always find freshies--untracked pockets of powder just waiting for you to plunge your boards into. It's highly addictive.
All this was on my mind this weekend because one of our regular winter customers was back in town. Greg and Paula are freeheelers--dedicated telemark skiers of the backcountry. They love Stowe for all the obvious reasons, but they keep coming back for the amount of skiing available off-piste. (I think they come back because they like to stay at the Auberge, too.) Every time Greg comes up he asks me if I've made the leap to telemark skiing, and every year I'm seized with desire to do so, but don't. In my heart I know I have too many hobbies and not enough income to support them. But telemarking could expand my skiing opportunities, so it keeps hanging on. To now, my biggest excuse has been the cost of the boots. I've got a pair of skis and the bindings ready to go, but the boots are so darn expensive. And used boots are scarce, too. Because the sport is nascent, there isn't a lot of used gear out there. I look from time to time, but I rarely find boots in my own size. So if anyone has some used telemark boots for sale, (I wear a size 10 shoe, which I think translates to a mondo size 28.5), shoot me an email and we'll make a deal. Until then I'll keep looking for some boots, dreaming of freeheeling, and dabbling in the endless woods of Stowe.
P.S. April is looking like a solid month for spring skiing. More on that next time.