On April 17, 2024

Spring slush, it’s fun to ski and paddle through

Settling into my lawn chair in the parking lot, I extend both legs outward. My toes are pointing straight up, my forward lean angle set by my ski boots — super soggy and full of water. I don’t want to even think about touching my wet socks. And the aroma that wafts through the parking lot as end-of-season feet get pulled out of end-of-season boots and placed into flip flops or sandals so they can breathe.

It’s an experience, that spring parking lot boot removal. Completely the opposite of frozen shells that won’t open, as you rip a barely functioning frozen foot out of its tight casket. No longer worried about frostbite, by April we are worried about suffering the indignity of trench foot while everyone is finally exposing their feet to the outdoors after months without having seen the sun.

But I love playing in the slush. Still white, but slightly more water logged than your fall or mid-winter snow. The snow is no longer beautiful six pointed snowflakes but sharp, pointy shards or needles, ready to slice you with road rash if you manage to slip and make contact with the surface. It doesn’t seem playful or friendly when you look closely at the jagged edges, but these spring crystals create some of the best (and silliest) moments of spring.

It is in springtime where we learn to skim over puddles over water, noticing that the darker snow is massively faster than the bright white, sticky snow that eats at the small twitch muscles in your quads. The waterier the snow, the more fun, the more hero like, and the faster to melt. It’s almost like reverse patches, where you have to play in the darkest slush first before it’s all gone. Ski it before it melts. The end is coming.

Paddling does it backwards. Daily, I drive by Kent Pond, peeking through the trees to see if the darker spots have finally exposed themselves until there is open water peeking through. Looking at the water, I can’t wait for the snow to melt so that I can get out onto the water. But you don’t want the pond to unfreeze too quickly, because then there won’t be any slush to play in! That’s right, if you can ski slush you can certainly paddle slush! 

Both slush on the mountain and on the pond make the same tinkling noise. Like a fairy getting her wings or a sprite leaping through the forest. Those shardly snow crystals get blown around in the wind, pushed together into a cove. And the crystals bounce around each other, like a high pitched wind chime. The same noise that you hear as you smear a turn across a pile of slushy snow, only you’re usually moving too fast to hear it.

Once again, skiing and paddling end up floating along on the same surface, making the same movements and the same sounds. You can feel the canoe getting jagged by the crystals, same as your bases through the slush. You can just feel your skis getting beat up by the shards. These are not gentle crystals. Or soft, fragile ones that evaporate at the faintest change in the weather. These are the stubborn crystals, the ones that don’t melt right away. The ones that fight for us to make turns down Superstar in June or paddle through in April.

I love slush. Like, really love it. I don’t care that my feet are soggy because of skiing or frozen ice cubes because I’m paddling. I have always felt like slush is the magical snow, the snow that is not supposed to be there. The snow that should have melted by now. The snow that would have melted if it were anywhere else but Killington. The snow that survived. The snow that endures.

So I will continue to play in the slush for as much as I can, stealing a moment here or there to be a kid again and splash around. To cut my canoe though the slush or float my skis across it. I think the next step is to mix some maple syrup with it for a maple slushee. That could be pretty awesome if I can find some clean slush. Which is potentially an oxymoron… Unless you have a Slush Puppy machine!

Merisa Sherman is a long time Killington resident, local Realtor®, Killington town lister, member of the Development Review Board and “Coach PomPom.” She can be reached at merisa.sherman@sothebysrealty.com.

By Merisa Sherman
Paddling through spring slush on Kent Pond in Killington is a unique adventure.

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