It is surprising and disappointing that I have not participated in this grand sport.
By way of Mr. Fitzgerald
Journal filed at MTNOPS.com
Many moons ago, the seven years winter was born in North Conway as an excuse to spend a winter in the mountains with friends. Sadly, it was proved an idea that was not sustainable. As the winters have blown through, the friends have drifted away. Last winter marked the 7YW yet very little time was spent amongst friends.
Luckily 7YW.1 has been pegged on the epicocity meter for some time. When you bring good snow and good friends together, you know good things are going to happen.
This is the story of the first run at Mad River Glen.
For the full Mad River history as collected by bad colonies, [CLICK HERE].
I awoke, well unpassed out, early Sunday morning with a dream in my foggy brain. A dream that I have lusted after for quite some time, to finally inked some turns on the sacred snow of the pinners and rear entry sick booters. The plan was simple, which of course was the beauty of it.
First, we would all walk around the house aimlessly for 30-45 minutes, discussing conditions, checking 5-6 separate weather sites, and very briefly (and I mean extremely briefly) glancing at a trail map of Mad River and the Long Trail. From this clinic in preparation, it was determined that we should load our bellies with an exorbitant amount of heavy breakfast grub.
Completing the aforementioned preps, we loaded some junk into packs while Rawlings lectured my dog on the merits of checking your pack at the house, something along the lines of, "See Bob, 5 minutes in the house is worth 6 hours on the hill, blah, blah, blah." With that bit of wisdom imparted, we hit the road quick like so as to ensure no further map reading was performed.
Rawlings and I were dropped at the top of App Gap while Medros and Vin Diesel rolled to the base to spot a car. Naturally, Rawlings had ensured failure by bugging Bob with his prep bragging. We found his toe strap snapped completely off. Luckily, we grew up riding when your bindings snapped every fourth trip down the mountain and were able to jimmy the little bastard back together before the Avalon came roaring back up the pass. This had the added benefit of guaranteeing that my fingers were properly frozen, a prerequisite for any hike in my honest opinion (IMHO).
The punters suited up while Rawdog and I scooted up the first headwall to scout out the sick lines. Lucky for all involved, we didn't utilize any of this extra time to ensure we were on the actual Long Trail. And off we went, into the great white unknown.
I proved my worth as a human being, strapping my board extra high to knock every last bit snow out of the trees and on to my head, shoulders, down my back, into my pants, and any where else snow likes to go. This came in extremely handy when we found ourselves completely unsure of our whereabouts. I was able to clear large expanses of snow for my fellow cartographers to stumble through. While certainly an enjoyable sightseeing tour, the misplacement of the trail also allowed us to elongate what should have been a relatively short hike by walking rather aimlessly around the woods of the Green Mountains.
Finally Medros, the least likely to the find the trail, directed us to the well camouflaged white blazes that marked the Long Trail. Now all we had to do was figure out how far to go on said trail before embarking on the descent portion of the adventure. At some point amongst the huffing, panting, and complaining, it was discovered that we lacked a carabineer between the four of us. A long conversation ensued as we tried to determine if we could carry on with this extreme activity lacking such critical equipment. Vin decided he would put his water bottle in his bag and not clip it to his pack. We all continued on, deeply saddened by our lack of extremeness.
Sometime down the trail, we stumbled upon a sign for the Mad River snowshoe trails. This seemed familiar to me from the brief glance at the maps. I also took a wild guess at the elevation which Vin confirmed to be close via his GPS. (Yes, we had a GPS yet no carabineer or maps or clue.) All this resemblance of having a clue of our location combined with a desire to not hike anymore and we halted our progress and prepped to descend.
Now don't get the false idea that you are dealing with amateurs, no bush league stuff here, we know how to hike. I broke out the Chimay Grande Reserve and we all warmed up around the cold beer.
There was a lot of discussion about the probability that we would all end up post holing our way out at some point. Gazing down into the gentle slope, it was easy to see myself bitching about the snow shortly.
Taking another appraisal of the situation, smiles were broke out by all, no better way to spend a Sunday.
As luck would have it, the ride down was fairly righteous with no post holing. The turns were deep, the trees were sparse-ish, and the lads were ripping-ish.
Vin sported his kit from the last Seven Years Winter in honor of the epicness, including the same smile I last saw in North Conway.
At some point along the way, these wee female skiers came upon us. They looked at us with eyes wide. I took the opportunity to wrestle the head ass title from Medros and asked, "Is this Sugarbush?" followed by some admittedly lame verbal pollution. The girls seemed unfazed and decided the best route would be to send us to detention at the bottom.
It turns out that we should have taken at least 5-10 minutes longer learning the trail map. Seems odd, doesn't it. Well we ended up on what has to be the lamest traverse at Mad River. I was pretty stoked that my forward lean was lax, as Carrie will have you know, "Vegans hate forward lean." I am a pretending Vegan that really misses bacon and cheese and hamburgers and roots, wait I get to eat all the roots I can handle, ummm dirt taste. After traversing around for awhile, we locked in a few turns and did not fall in front of the chair lift, which would have sucked large.
The little girls of the forest found us at the bottom and after some words about us being in big trouble, they shuffled off in their rear entry ski boots to find "Bruce". Had we wanted to escape, we could have simply run off in our snowboard boots while the rest of the resort waddled after doing their best impression of the Family Joseph from Lowell. However, we had nothing to fear and in fact many people asked how the snow was and were honestly very welcoming to their area. I have a feeling a fair few people feel the ban on snowboarding is an idea that has passed. We closed the day and the weekend sipping a rather tasty Bloody Mary while slowly nodding our heads and playing air acoustic guitar in the lodge.
I will conquer the Glen in the future, more to come...
High Spender - The Hammerhead - $349
Mid Range - The Mad River Rocket - $127
Mad River Rocket
Wham-O has a bunch of cheaper options, but the TechFlyer looks the most promising at $48. Quite fugly though.
Make your own dang sled out of all that junk in your garage.
My brother created a neat homebrew sled. I just made a couple for our kids for Xmas.
At this point, I can't think of a better homemade sled. Feel free to post your own ideas, plans, links!
What you do is take a plastic tub sled ($10 hardware store) and screw a pair of XC skis to the bottom of it---if it's a sled for kids---or a pair of metal-edge downhill skis if adults might use it. Use stout, short screws and big washers to avoid pull-thru. Then you glue foam-padding to the inside of the tub.
This sled runs really straight. And superfast, smooth and far.
I wonder if it can be made to allow for turning. --Maybe by angling the skis inward at the front a bit one could lean out to turn away from the lean.
If you first screw on a wood spacer to the skis before mounting to the sled, you can ride through deeper snow without scrubbing speed on the bottom of the sled---far faster. It's great fun to float over the snow that way.
The core sledding locations - do some investigation at the New England Lost Ski Area Project
Some kids want to grow up and be firefighters. Some want to be president. But when I was child, I wanted to be a professional luge racer. I'm not sure what inspired my dream—certainly not the skintight outfits—but every winter I packed down the snow that fell in our driveway and covered it with freezing water until it hardened into a demonically fast sledding hill. In my 9-year-old mind, this was my path to Olympic fame.
But my illustrious career was cut short one afternoon when my brother gave me a hard push at the top of the run. I careened down the hill and flew off the track, diving into a large shrub. A frozen twig stabbed through my cheek, and I spent the evening in the hospital, my hopes of an Olympic gold shattered. Note this picture of me a few days into my early luge retirement, practicing a new sport on my brother.
Imagining a Rocky Balboa-like comeback, I jumped at a chance to test out the latest in sledding technology. When I was a kid, sleds looked pretty much the same as they had in the Middle Ages: a small platform on top of two runners. Today the market is flooded with various makes and models, from simple, plastic saucers to high-end, snowmobilelike sleds complete with steering wheels and brakes. One, called the Airboard, promises Porsche-like handling. It also comes with a Porsche-like price tag: nearly $300.
Read it all in SLATE
This is a snowboarding classic.
I can't remember if I ever posted this. I wrote this back during the first Seven Years Winter that was formally celebrated. GLAD to RIDE.
Taken from, "Danger in the Hills, The History of Sledding in Orwell" author unknown, the following passage briefly describes a portion of the last seven years winter.
"The winter of '94 brought some the best sledding conditions Orwell had seen in years. People were pulling off lines no one had ever dreamed possible, lines that have not been attempted since. The advent of more technical equipment in conjunction with the splendid conditions had brought the overall level of sledding in Orwell to heights unheard of.
At this point there were three factions to the Orwell sledding community, the jumpers, the steepers, and the pullers. The latter of the three was headed by a group of young men hailing from nearby Benson: William Tyler, Corey Flynn, and Brian Munger. To call these men anything other than innovators would be an injustice. With a reckless flare seldom seen prior, they pioneered such great runs as high speed slightly intoxicated sledding behind car prone to roll over many times and hit guardrail and all terrain sledding behind not quite legal Jeep type vehicle. They had found a niche in the Orwell community through many such exploits on the northern portion of Old Stage Road.
The steepers and jumpers were based mainly out of the Beck reserve. For years, people had enjoyed the lower angle, gentle terrain of the front "40", but with the expanse of snow came a general push into the back bowls. With the steepers moving off the front "40", an opportunity arose for the jumpers and soon an Olympic quality jumping facility had been erected. Such jumping greats as Matt Jensen and Matt Kent could be seen on a warm sunny day pushing the envelope on the distance jump and freestyle jump. It was off the freestyle jump that Matt Kent suffered the now famous barrel roll back injury that many feel caused the early demise of the St. Paul's CYO team in the '94 tournament.
The frequent storms had filled in a few of the more frightening chutes of the back bowls, and were eyed on an almost daily basis by the steepers. Seth Beck had grown up on the Beck reserve and with sister, Carrie Beck, had pioneered many of the more remote runs on the reserve. Finally after years of anticipation, there was enough snow to negotiate the steep angles of the bowls and with little hesitation they slid the Mangler, known as such for the barbed wire fence that mangled those who foolishly attempted the run in years of lesser snow.
Of course the winter brought frequent competitions and carnivals, generally held in far off Bomoseen. A well known venue in the small world of competitive sledding, the "golf course" was indicative of large crowds and fierce competitors. It was here that Mike Stannard made his name in the sledding world, coupling an interesting cider concoction with a progressive style all his own. In years following, Mike would often be found in the back bowls of the Beck reserve alongside the aforementioned local sledders, an adopted big city member of the tight knit community."