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Good to be back on the mountain

More Dogs on Main

By Tom Clyde
Park Record columnist

I missed opening day at Park City for the first time in many years. With the delayed opening, the first day landed in the holiday blackout period on my cheap-o pass. Though it seemed strange to miss it, the Thanksgiving holiday was very pleasant with some family visiting from out of state. Even if the pass had been good that day, I don’t think I would have abandoned good company and wholesale quantities of pumpkin pie to fight the mob on Home Run.

Then Tuesday rolled around, and skiing on Tuesday morning is sort of a religious observance. I don’t remember how many years the Tuesday group has been going out. It started before I joined years ago. I could miss opening day. I was not about to miss opening Tuesday. The rest of the group didn’t see it that way, and instead of the usual gang of eight or 10, there were four of us true believers.

Home Run isn’t much to get excited about, but the snow was perfect. It skied like mid-winter conditions. Coverage was more than adequate. I didn’t even see a little floater rock in there. The snow was soft, and for a first day out, for a couple of hours, it was as good as it gets. It was surprisingly busy for this time of year, but not like the opening day mosh pit.

The first day out is always interesting. Despite my best efforts in the spring, the ski gear gets scattered in all kinds of places around the house. I thought it was all organized, and then, when I tried to get dressed, I discovered things were not as I thought. First off, my ski pants were hanging up in the barn. I had sprayed them with a particularly strong-smelling water-proofing about a month ago. After a couple of days, they were still not fit to bring in the house. So I put them in the barn, draped over the seat of the Allis-Chalmers tractor. Where else would you put them, right? That made perfect sense at the time, and then the patio furniture, lawn mower, and a whole lot of other stuff got shoved in there for deep winter storage. I was able to retrieve them with a rake.

The night before, I woke up at about 3 a.m. wondering where my ski pass was. With the computer chip in them, they don’t re-issue a new plastic pass each year. That requires you to keep track of the pass all summer. That’s a lot to ask. It could just get left in the pants pocket, but I learned the hard way that the electronic stuff doesn’t do well in the laundry. I rummaged around and found the pass. Good to go.

Getting the legs to work was a lot easier than the logistics of getting there. I’ve changed cars since last winter. So I had to figure out how things fit in the new car, how to fold the seat down, and so on. The old car had a great system where you could Velcro some Lego-like things to the floor to hold stuff in place. I have a bin full of ski stuff that just lives in the car. In the new car, it is sliding all over, tipping over, and spilling. I’ll have to figure out a tie-down for that, since the Velcro things won’t stick to the mat.

They are making snow everywhere they can, and pushing it out where ever they’ve made it. There are physical limits on how much water they can pump. The pumps and pipes have finite capacity. So three weeks of summer temperatures in November put everything behind schedule. They are getting more terrain ready, and natural snow makes a big difference. But I suspect we will be trying to catch up all season long. It looked like Bonanza might be more ready to go this weekend.

There were some kinks to work out in the first few runs. The new boots fit perfectly, but are a lot stiffer than the ones they replaced. Stiff boots on soft legs isn’t always a winning combination, but it all worked out. The group lasted for about 5 runs, which was just about right. It all is familiar, the friends, the gear, the first awkward turns until the legs remember how it works. It all comes back so quickly.

I noticed one interesting change on the Payday lift. At the back of the maze, there was a sign that said, “Form groups of six.” And the maze ran several almost straight lines to the front, where the front row all made a turn to the right and moved on to the lift. It seemed vaguely familiar.

Tom Clyde practiced law in Park City for many years. He lives on a working ranch in Woodland and has been writing this column since 1986.


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