March 22, 2010

First Tracks

The allure of looking back at a fresh set of tracks carved gracefully in new fallen snow is something most skiers can understand and appreciate. A winter storm rolled into Truckee and sent me out into the snow in search of some of those precious first tracks.  However, that same allure is felt by many and the search for a patch of untracked powder often proves difficult, particularly in ski areas inhabited by an overpopulation of ski bums. On two particular days this March, the usual crowd was thinner than expected and the search proved easier than anticipated.
As the storm picked up one morning, I watched as the snow began to accumulate faster and faster and by mid-morning I knew that this would be an afternoon worth spending alone out on the slopes. I packed up my telemark gear and headed out with high hopes. The snow continued to fall and as I pulled into the parking lot I could sense that this would be a great afternoon. With each new run the tracks from the previous would almost fill in and I could reski almost the same lines. As the day started winding down I felt the burn in my thighs and started exploring a bit more and skiing a bit less, yet the good lines and snow continued to be easy to find.

On such days, there is an aura of anticipation with each run. The falling snow provides a subtle backdrop as dedicated skiers in search of that same rush funnel onto the ski lift and then disperse again at the top each little group in search of their own secret stash. At the end of the day everyone leaves satisfied and with a big grin and stories to tell.

The next morning, I left the house early to get a few runs in before the rest of the family joined me. tHe sun was shining and the storm had left plenty of fresh snow begging to be skied. That same crowd as the day before sensed the same attraction of knee to waist deep powder and congregated after each run at the bottom of the ski lift anticipating another run through untracked snow. With each run though the search became more difficult as more and more tracks cluttered the once blank white slate. With each run, I had to adventure further to find my own untracked line. Yet the search often paid off with a long run back to the lift with another smile on my face.

These are the days many of us ski for. The days that make the patient wait between storms worth it.