Frum Outdoorsman: Rare but Possible

The wanderings and adventures of an orthodox Jew

I skid Stratton today

Posted by Frum Hiker on February 19, 2007

The beeping alarm clock on my cell phone jolted me awake, I fumbled for the snooze, suddenly it rang again, that wasn’t ten minutes, screw this, I shut it off. I knew I wanted to get up, but I was wrapped up in my sleeping bag, cozy and frigid and couldn’t seem to get up. The next time I gazed at my watch it was 6:40am, ok time to get up. Washed negel vasser by my bed, icy cold, jeez. Threw on my fleece spandex pants and some nasty dirty shirt I use for skiing. Went downstairs gathered all my gear, ski pants, parka, windproof fleece, boots, extra socks, CD case, and some snacks. The back of my car was a mess as it is, energy bars strewn about, a shove, some snowshoes, cross country skis and my normal skis. Stacks of soiled clothing from the last bike ride presumably.

I davened and prayed for a good day on the slopes. A gentle dusting of snow covered my car and was instantly blown off when I hit 5 mph. Suddenly I was flying down route 7 towards Vermont through scattered snow showers and a heavy fog, on both sides of the road the snow was stacked high pushed there by parge snowplows working round the clock during the blizzard.

Vanden Plas a fairly heavy progressive metal came blaring from my 8 speakers as I cursed under my breath every two minutes when my windshield became too salty to see. The guitar riffs shook the car, I was tired but pumped, it would probably be the only day I could ski this week unless I could finagle something through work for a day off. Holiday weeks suck anyway, a bunch of snobby kids with their equally snobby parents that come up from any scattering of towns that touch the Long Island Sound. They pile out of their Volvo SUV’s and walky-talky in hand they communicate with their over protective suburban parents who buy their kids cell phones when they hit age 5. You can spot these families from a mile away, even if the families are terrible skiers, they always have matching uber-expensive uniforms from top name brands and sleek looking helmets and equipment. After the day, they retire to their slope side lodges to catch a movie on their high definition televisions and then eat at some local fancy après ski establishment.

Wow these new tires are amazing I thought as I quickly shifted the car into third gear to pass someone going horribly slow on route 7 north in Vermont. The road was covered with a thin brown slush, in Vermont its illegal to use salt, they use sand instead, creating a brown mess everywhere, at least its environmentally friendly and doesn’t ruin your cars chassis. My car preformed flawlessly in this slush, passing the car and resuming a cruising speed of 70 mph on a slushy double lane byway.

Music choice is crucial for pumping oneself up for the coming task, in this case skiing. I have pre-skatepark music, after date music, all sorts. I chose Reel Big Fish, one of my faves, a punk/ska band that is just a whole lotta fun. I was bobbing my head as I pulled in to the quickly filling up parking lot. I threw everything on and just got right on line for a chairlift. I decided to just go mid-way up and then take a couple quick runs. It was snowing when I got to Stratton Mountain and it flurried soft fluffy snow all day long. The conditions were great, powder abounds and no ice to be seen. I knew it wouldn’t last, judging from the crowds waiting on the lift lines, it would be skid up by mid morning.

Solo skiing is quite lonely yet exhilarating at the same time. You have to keep yourself company all day, unless you get friendly lift companions which I did. I happen to be very social and look for every chance to strike up conversation. On one lift I met some other Jews who were talking about going to temple for the first time in 2 years. I also heard some very crude funny jokes which I cannot repeat here.

I skid for about 6 hours until I called it quits. I rarely stop unless I have to pee or am cold. I never take lunch or food breaks when I ski. I am also not into the whole “sit in the lodge and have a couple beers” while I chill. I skid until my stomach growled and my quads were burning. The snow became cruddy and piles of thick powder appeared, catching my edges and sometimes forcing me down. It was a carving day, I didn’t ride any terrain parks and rarely hit any jumps, and today was a smooth powdery carvers dream.

There is nothing quite like taking your boots off and putting your shoes back on, its one of life’s great little pleasures. I got in my car put on some Beastie Boys and munched on barbeque potato chips and Carmel popcorn.

In Manchester I decided to take some back roads. I was sick of fancy luxury vehicles with their suburban blackberry wielding drivers. I needed some good old fashioned rural America. I hopped on route 313 which goes through some nice wooded hills and past some good old architecture. I came to an old gas station and stoped to wander around the area and take some pictures Took some random dirt roads and eventually made my way back to familiar roads. One of my favorite things to do is drive randomly down dirt roads and see where I end up, without looking at the map I just follow my instincts or the sun.

I ended up in Shushan NY of all places. I had talked about this place with a Rabbi I know. He said that there is a Jewish couple there with the names of Mordichai and Esther, weird and its not a joke. They want to keep the post office there, and they offer to send purim cards to people with the Shushan post stamp.

I wandered all over Washington County and eventually made my way over to Greenwich a very picturesque town on the banks of the Batenkill river, which through many drops in elevation makes its way over many waterfalls to its eventual destination of the Hudson River. The sun was getting low, but light was good enough to snap some street scenes of the village and its great condition architecture.

I ended up going towards home past Saratoga Lake, it was covered in snowmobile tracks and many ice fishing huts stood in the middle. I wondered if people were in them now, fishing under the setting sun and ebbing cold. The sun was casting its brilliant colors off all the snowdrifts on the lake, its pinks and reds were cast forth in a cacophony of light all over the sky and the snow. It was amazing, thank God.

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