On September 7, 2022

The countdown begins

By Merisa Sherman

My big plastic boots feel heavy this early in the season, as I continue to pass one foot in front of the other. I meander my plastics around roots and rocks, careful not to teeter totter on the pointy ones. They might look brutal to hike in, but over these years these beloved boots have become my friends. The liner is worn out in just the right places and sliding my foot inside feels like home. Although the first ascent of the season still feels a little Frankenstein-like, I know I will get used to the flat-foot feeling about half way up.

I can hear the noise, like a siren calling my name. From this distance, it’s still a low rumble that perhaps an untrained ear would mistake for something else. But I know this sound. It’s the white noise that stirs the passions in my soul into a frenzy. A high pitched rumble that will penetrate my ear drums as I am lured closer and closer, but I dare not veer off the path.

By Merisa Sherman
A snowgun was at work on Launchpad over Superstar a few fall seasons ago, October 2019. Fall is all about anticipation.

My backpack is heavy. Well, it gets lighter each year that the technology improves, but it still feels heavy on my shoulders. And it is taller and longer, about 161 centimeter’s worth. I forget for a moment and the tips get caught in a tree above me as I forget to duck and twist. It’s the first ascent of the year, and I am still caught in the movements of summer.

The noise grows louder and I find my feet moving quicker, caught up in some invisible rhythm as I move along up the mountain. My toe pieces stick into the early season mud, making the hill feel like a Stair Master rather than a mountain hike.

My plastics are perfect for a direct ascent and my legs are rolling along now, smooth and ready.

I am almost there, the air has changed and I can feel the moisture content growing. The noise is getting louder and I can finally see beyond the light of my headlamp. The sky is beginning to glow in pinks and purples and I am in awe of the beauty surrounding me as I continue to climb. I move faster now, almost like the characters of “The Matrix” and suddenly I found myself unable to hear even myself think.

Oh, the noise! I find myself caught between wanting to cover my ears from the deafening sound and reaching my face toward the greatness. I step closer and closer until finally I can see it. The white. That beautiful winter white just beginning its coating of the grass lies lays below. It has only just begun, a frosting of the tips if you will, but just enough to make my heart sing and my soul fly.

I swing my backpack off and just stand there, breathing in the early seasons snow as it falls from the guns. It’s entirely too wet to do much more than be a prep layer of frost, but it still looks beautiful to me. With my backpack off, I take a few more deep breaths before I lay myself down in the fresh whiteness. I reach my arms out to my sides and begin to flap my arms and legs up and down, making the first snow angel of the season.

“Ow!” I hear from next to me and I open my eyes to see my partner staring at me from his side of the bed. I wince as I realized I wasn’t at the top of the mountain at all, but simply dreaming. I am kind of super bummed. A little bit because obviously I just hit and kicked my spouse several times, but mostly because I really it’s not the first ski day of the year. The loud noise is just the rain on the roof mixed with memories of all the hiking I’ve been doing to get ready for the season. I look up at the ceiling and sigh.

I can feel my spouse smile and I turn back over to stare at him. “Happy 50 days until snowmaking,” he says with a smile and gives me a little kiss right at the top of my nose.

My heart must have heard him, because I could feel my whole body lighten. While we won’t be skiing for quite some time, I smile anyway and begin the final countdown in my mind.

The next two months will be filled with excitement. Two months to find my buyers the perfect properties for their Killington dreams, two months to get serious about dry land training, two months to prep my lesson plans for KMS kindergarten, two months to plan my Halloween costume, two months of watching Vermont turn colors … and two months of the most wonderful ski dreams.

I think fall might just be my favorite season of all.

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