On April 21, 2021

April powder day surprise

By Merisa Sherman

I awoke to a deafening silence. The birds of spring, so vocal in their morning song, had vanished. In fact, there was no noise at all — an eerie silence had overtaken the earth. It was almost as if a sound absorbing blanket had been spread over the earth while we had slept and … then it hit me. The only explanation for the silence was that the weathermen had actually been correct and it had snowed enough to silence the sounds of spring.

Vermont should always expect the unexpected when it comes to weather, especially in April, but we had been skiing in t-shirts and shorts for a few weeks already. I had been staring at my daffodils for almost a week, willing them to bloom. But that would not be today. Instead, the sounds of winter ruled the day. The parking lot was the powder day race of heavy machinery moving snow versus the powder hungry skiers desperate to park their cars and get to the lift. We looked with trepidation to see exactly what kind of snow the machines were moving and the questions began to swirl in our heads:

Exactly what type of spring snowstorm would this be and what would that mean for 1) our skiing and 2) our safety, because we all know that powder hungry skiers and riders might not be the best decision makers? We had gotten over a foot of snow on trails that we were just about to say goodbye to. Contrary to all things mid-winter, a light and fluffy snow could have been an absolute disaster on a trail with no base, leaving us to decide whether or not our skis should be sacrificed to the gods for a few good turns.

But it was not. Instead, it was the perfect snow of freedom. Thick enough to protect our skis from most (definitely not all) of the exposed mud and rocks of the day before, but not wet enough to remain immobile. It was thin enough to move when we needed it to and not to slide away from underneath our skis on the steeper terrain. The snow had taken on the perfect texture of full coverage with just enough fluffiness to get chest shots — I’m sorry, did I say chest shots in April? Oh yeah I did!!!!

It was glorious. Instead of saying farewell to some of our favorite trails for the season, we were once again laughing as we reacquainted ourselves with their nooks and crannies. This wasn’t a miracle day of powder that would melt by lunchtime — this was a reopening snow! The mud pits and the rocky sidelines were once again covered with a thick blanket and as long as you were slightly cautious, you should have come out of the day with your skis in one piece and your bindings still attached. Well, unless you found one of those large frozen chunks or got sucked into a snow covered crevasse near a bike trail bridge.

We were covered in big, fat, wet flakes and huge smiles. Our clothes were slightly wet, but it was only that happy, powder day wetness that doesn’t seem to register. Nothing matters on a powder day but finding that untracked goodness, no matter how far you have to shuffle along, or boot pack or break in a skin track to find it. The playground is reopened, at least for now, and skiers are embracers of opportunity and seekers of greatness. A powder storm in April assuages all of those needs, often to the frustration of ski patrol.

I am reminded of a day, nine years ago, when a similar re-opening storm fell during the unfortunate 2011-2012 season. With the lack of snow, both man made and natural, the resort was already down to just Superstar by April when the weathermen reported an incoming 2 feet of snow. Instead of trapping us, the corporation announced at 5:30 p.m. on April 9 to get our “second string skis ready”: the K1 would reopen at 10 a.m. the next day with no grooming and no base with job-shared employees. Those 19 inches opened the door to an epic week that still seems like a dream — except for all the grooves in my bases.

So when the weatherman called for over a foot of snow this past week, we were ready. We put the snowblower back on the tractor, just in case, and waxed our powder skis to perfection. I dug the winter coat out from it’s seasonal home in the back of the closet and once again grabbed my long johns. No matter kind of snow had fallen this past Friday, it would have been an amazing time. You dream of powder days in April, but you never take them for granted. You only show up for first chair and let Mother Nature do the rest.

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