Most of my days at Gore this year have been “family days.” Last weekend I had the opportunity to sample the woods and enjoy some more advanced skiing, but today was another family day. After dropping Sylvie in daycare and checking Daniel into half-day Mountain Adventure, Beth and I were on our own, until noon.
Beth enjoying the view from Cloud
Beth dabbled with tele for several years before switching to alpine gear last year. She’s still getting comfortable with her new set-up, so we picked Showcase for a warm-up run. The morning was mild, and the gondi line was long, so we rode the triple chair. Despite the lack of new snow in the past week, by the time we approached the saddle the trees were nicely snow covered.
Above the saddle, Bear Mountain had that mid-winter, snow-covered look. Showcase had good coverage, very edgeable corduroy and packed powder. I was anxious to try Echo, which opened for the season a day or two earlier. And I wanted to see the improvements to the grading of the Cedars - the approach to the Burnt Ridge Quad. Whatever “improvements” had been made to Cedars weren’t really noticeable, but on tele gear I had never minded the approach anyway.
Riding up the BRQ, the new snowmaking pipes were visible, but there was no sign that snowmaking was about to begin. I really enjoy the view into the Cirque glades from the top of Echo, especially the notch in the cliffs where you drop in. The coverage in Cirque was enticing, but we’re still a good storm or two away from the coverage that Cirque needs, particularly on the lower reaches.
Enticing snow in the Cirque Glades
Echo skied nicely. A little firm, but mostly nice edgeable corduroy the whole way down. Beth had a little trouble with the steep pitch near the top, but no need to go there.
Maybe it was the views into the Cirque glade ... near the bottom of Echo, Beth asked if there was an easy glade that we could try. Hey, you don’t have to ask me more than once to go into the woods, so I suggested Tahawus glade. We rode the triple again, and skied the Tahawus trail to the glade the glade entrance. The glade had received a fair amount of traffic, so although the snow was good, some of the troughs were sporting that salt-and-pepper look from leaves and dirt mixing with the snow.
Beth enjoyed it and we went back for a second lap. After that second lap in Tahawus, we headed down Sunway/Quicksilver to pick up Daniel. Like Showcase, both had good coverage and nice edgeable snow, and surfaces seemed to be holding up to the holiday traffic.
Daniel, who will be 6 in March, likes to do a run with us before we break for lunch, so today we took him up the gondi for a run down Foxlair and Wild Air. It’s amazing how much his skiing has progressed this year. He is making solid turns, stopping when he needs to, and skiing confidently down the steep pitch of Foxlair.
On Wild Air, it’s all I can do to keep him from letting his skis approach terminal velocity. Daniel seems to find the terrain park on Wild Air very appealing, and I cautiously let him try a couple of the small jumps. Despite doing all I can, I know he cut off at least one boarder. I think that the lack of separation between the terrain park and the regular trail on Wild Air is a bit of a problem, but that’s another story.
After lunch, Daniel said he wanted to hit Sleeping Bear, which the 3 of us had skied last weekend. Sleeping Bear had been blown the previous weekend, so coverage was good and surfaces were nice. The lack of traffic on the North side makes it a good place for us to take Daniel. The natural snow and overall feel of the trails keeps the skiing interesting for Beth and me too. On the ride back up the quad, we all agreed it would be the perfect day to take Daniel on his first-ever tour of the upper mountain.
We skied over to the High Peaks chair. Riding up, Daniel got pretty excited seeing the snow covered trees, the summit fire tower, and the “secret” trails (Darkside Glades) where he could see skiers in the trees. Must be something in the genes. Darkside glade proper, under the lift, looked really skied out and beat, but the woods appeared to still have good coverage.
Mid-winter from the High Peaks chair
We skied down Cloud to Headwaters, and rode the Straight Brook quad back up. It was a great feeling to have Daniel skiing well and really enjoying the mountain so much. Beth and I were amazed at how he was handling the terrain and how much fun he was having exploring the mountain. Taking Daniel with us, all over the mountain, and seeing him ski confidently and having fun made today a breakthrough family day for us.
Daniel really wanted a good look at that fire tower, so we skied Upper Stielhang to Cloud. Parts of Cloud and especially Upper Stielhang were getting a bit scratchy, but the snow was really nice on Headwaters. We skied it again, and this time headed all the way down Tannery for a ride up the Topridge triple.
Coming down the front side, Daniel had a great time following me into the edges of the woods on Sunway, on the right side of the trail between the triple and the gondi. He said he wanted to find some more trails in the woods (yup, it’s in the genes) so we headed down Sunway to check out Otter Slide glades. They were open, but were even more scraped out than Tahawus glades had been. That didn’t bother either of us. He had a great time gliding over the small bumps between the trees. Even though it had been a long day, everyone wanted one more run so we headed back up the gondi again.
Ruby Run down to Twister ....which was finally open after the race. Twister is probably my favorite trail on the front side. I always like ending the day there. The coverage was good and surfaces were still nice, and Daniel continued to ski well.
We picked Sylvie up from daycare, got out of our boots and ski clothes and chatted with friends in the lodge. It was late enough that we decided to stay to see the torch light parade and fireworks, which were really well done. A great way to end a breakthrough family day on the mountain.
Daniel on Cloud