By Merisa Sherman
May is the best adventuring month. I’m not even debating about it. Once May rolls around, there is just so much excitement to be had — and the only negative is choosing what to do each day. Paddling season is cruising along and the ponds were just restocked for the season. The race to transplant and divide the perennials competes with vegetable garden prep. The roads are clear and ready for those first motorcycle rides, while the lower bike trails are dry enough to get the first miles in. Golf courses are opening up and so are the scoop shops. It’s awesome going for a rainy day hike along the back roads or getting some chainsawing in before the forest plants grow tall. There’s ramps and fiddleheads and trout lilies and trillium…
But on weekends, we go skiing. While it might be difficult to prioritize all that needs to get done midweek, the chairlift turns and so we must go to the gathering. The parking lot is dusty, the wind blowing the dirt around while you’re trying to figure out the appropriate outfit for the snow beach. It might be chilly on the dirt, but once you stand on the reflective white ski trail and make a few turns in the Volkswagen sized bumps, you’ll be down to a t-shirt and wishing you were crazy enough to wear shorts or a skirt. Or a unicorn costume. Whatever makes you smile.
Because it’s show time. The best bump skiers and the biggest diehards all converge on one trail to mark the end of the season and have just one more fun run in the sun. Because one run at a time is all most people can handle — if they can handle it at all. The snow is thick, the slush is heavy, and the bumps are big. Spring skiing conditions exist and if you don’t know what that means you’re in for a real surprise. But it’s the only skiing in the East every May, thanks to the willingness of Killington to accept and understand that skiing is not just a profitable business but a way of life.
The people skiing in May on the weekends are not the general public. These are the folks that have a trail sign hanging in their home and multiple family photos from Sharpshooters. They have a trail map collection and a section in their home that holds skis that they are unwilling to part with. Many wax their own skis, have duct tape holding their favorite pair of gloves together and don’t know how to have a conversation that’s not about skiing.
These are the diehards and they come from all over. As their home mountains shut down, they plan their trip to the Mecca of resort skiing, to come ski one trail over and over again until there is nothing left but a big S with some breaks across it. And they will gladly ski those muddy, rocky patches as well. They have skis specifically for this time of year, filled with core shots and grooves a-plenty — because an East Coast skier isn’t good until you can go from mud to grass to snow without skipping a beat.
You can hear the whoops from the chairlift as someone rips a sweet line and then jokingly shouts, “Do a back flip.” We talk to everyone and treat everyone like they are long lost cousins. It’s simple really — if they’re here, they are dedicated skiers. Skiing Superstar in May is like coming home for a family reunion, into a family that you might not realize you had been a part of all along.
This is the East Coast ski family. The stray flakes that do their own thing all winter long all come together every spring and share our adventures over the past couple months. Did you guys get the big dump in February or that quick melt in March? Before social media, this is where we became friends with the fun loving guys from Holiday Valley, New York, the rowdy, denim-toting crew from New Hampshire or even the local Sunday shred crew, forced out of the parks and trees and out into the open. If you love skiing and you don’t ever want ski season to end, you come here. To Killington.
It was tough last year, missing my Superstar Glacier family because Covid closed the resort in March. As a ski bum, you live counter to the ways of the world, oftentimes feeling like an outsider around people that don’t ski and can never understand you. But here, floating down lap after lap of spring bumps and surrounded by the diehards, I feel at home. These slushy, dusty, exhausted people wearing ski pants with flip flops are my people. Whether the season makes it to June 1 or not, we’re all here for one thing: skiing and riding as long as it lasts. And that makes us family, indeed.