Category Archives: skiing

What makes a tradition?

unnamedI remember Aloysius asking me that very question a couple of years ago as the Laker guys and I started talking about revisiting Mountain Jam. Since we had all gone together the previous year, was returning to the festival for a second time, in fact, a tradition? Operating on the premise that traditions bring us closer as friends and family, we decided it was. This June, we’ll hopefully be honoring that tradition for consecutive year. Rock on.

In March 2011 I skied for the first time at Belleayre Mountain. When I say “first time” I mean, I’d never really skied before and I’d never been to Belleayre. I was participating in a winter triathlon and I only took one run down the mountain, but I remember grinning like a fool as I cautiously wove my way down the mountain. The view was gorgeous and the novelty of actually having edges on my skis gave me, a veteran cross-country skier, a new sensation. I loved it.

During the winter of 2012-13, I got back down there twice, once for Ski School with my youngest son and once just to enjoy the slopes with Aloysius. That second visit was on a beautiful late winter day in March. The skiing was great as was the novelty of enjoying a cold beer midway down the mountain in the warmth of the bright sunshine. Sublime.

Yesterday, I made my way down that way again. My map app offered a number of different routes and I chose the one which took me along local roads through Greene and Ulster counties, in no rush despite having been robbed of an hour due to daylight savings time. The drive was beautiful with a sky alternating between flurry-filled and sunny.

I pulled into the parking lot just before noon, with perfect timing to take advantage of the half-day rate of $90 for rentals and life ticket, and to meet friends who had gotten an earlier start. As has been my experience on previous visits, the staff was incredibly pleasant and helpful. I obviously don’t have a lot of experience with skiing or the skiing lifestyle, but the folks here are excellent ambassadors to a novice like me. I particularly appreciated when the young guy who fitted me for skis remarked that I “looked like an athlete.” Yes, and thank you very much for noticing, my new friend.

I got in a couple of runs on the easy trails, gradually becoming confident as the moves became more familiar, prior to meeting up with my friends. We had lunch together in the base lodge and then took one run together on a moderate trail that I remembered from prior years. Chrissy remarked that I skied with a lot of control, a fair enough observation. I have no interest in getting hurt, I just want to enjoy being outdoors – the fresh air, the mountains, the sounds of my skis cutting through the snow.  My friends left and I returned to the chairlift again and again until I was cold and ready to warm up and head north again.

While I wish I had the time and the money to get to Belleayre more frequently, I’m okay with only getting there a time or two a season.  After all, the traditions I most treasure, like Mountain Jam, are those which only occur once a year.  That being said, if anyone wants to head down there before the snow disappears for another year – hit me up.  I’m in.

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Filed under Aloysius, beauty, Exercise, friends, road trips, skiing, snow, upstate New York, winter

My love affair with Winter

Valentine’s Day seems the perfect time to express my adoration for Winter.  In all honesty, it’s a love I never imagined experiencing.  Winter was always the cruelest of seasons, I thought.  Endlessly long, yet filled with days which offered mere hours of daylight.  Cold in a way that kept one indoors, in isolation.  Yuck.

Our relationship was purely platonic at the start.  It was a casual thing for many years, sort of a “friends with benefits situation.”  If I had a little extra timphoto 2(4)e, I could maybe work in an hour outdoors on my cross-country skis.  Many people have a summer romance, but we had a winter fling. Winter certainly wasn’t something I was willing to build a life around. It was more a matter of convenience, a circumstance I’d be remiss to replicate in my romantic life, yet acceptable for a relationship physical in nature.

During the snowy years, we got a little more serious with each other and I found myself keeping my skis in my car “just in case.” I explored Capital Hills, familiarizing myself with the various trails, learning which spots tended to get icy and which direction to ski to witness the often stellar winter sunsets.  I bought better cold weather gear and, repulsed by the false consistency of the treadmill, committed to running outdoors year round.

Winter challenged me and I responded with enthusiasm and devotion.  Downhill skiing beckoned and I fell even deeper in love.  The combination of adrenaline, fresh air and sunshine was intoxicating.  Winter was no longer something to be survived, it became a season to savor.  I realized recently that Winter has become my favorite season and I no longer wish it away as I may have in the past.
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Sometimes we find love in the most unexpected places.  Recognizing it, and embracing it with grace, makes our time here, and our hearts, feel remarkably full.  Happy Valentine’s Day.

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Filed under beauty, Exercise, favorites, holidays, Local, love, Normanskill, running, skiing, snow, upstate New York, winter, x-country skiing

A love letter to Belleayre Mountain

This is my happy face.

This is my happy face.

Maybe it is because this was the first place I ever truly skied.  Perhaps it is a result of the stunning panoramic views in every direction.  It may be because of the friendliness of every staff member I’ve ever encountered.  Or, it might be because of the all-things-considered reasonableness of the price of a lift ticket and rentals.  This past Sunday, the spectacular weather was definitely a factor.

Whatever it is, I absolutely love Belleayre Mountain.  If you know me, you are aware that my general expectation is not “perfection.” I actually find it to be a bit overrated as a measurement.  Yet, Sunday, I heard myself saying “perfect” an uncountable number of times.  It truly was a day of skiing that I will have a hard time ever matching, much less surpassing, regardless of how many seasons I revisit those slopes.

Why was it so special?  Well, the drive south was beautiful, as winter and spring continued to switch places for a few days.  Getting my equipment and lift ticket was a breeze, and I was on the chairlift within 20 minutes of parking my car.  The snow was soft, the sun was blazing and the sky was blue.  I was traveling light (sans boys), hanging with Aloysius and his next generation, and feeling absolutely giddy on sunshine and life.  To all of you who weren’t there – I’m sincerely sorry you missed the opportunity to feel the joy of gliding down a mountain with the warmth of the sun on your back.  Or the simple happiness of a tasty beer sipped al fresco midway down the slopes.  Bliss.

Upon my return to Albany, the only way I could possibly punctuate a day that glorious was with a terrific dinner at the Capital City Gastropub and my first TasteeFreez visit of the year.  It may not get any better than this, but, no worries, I’ll continue to keep trying.  Kisses – Silvia

That would be a sundae - with nuts.

That would be a sundae – with nuts.

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Filed under Aloysius, beauty, Eating, Exercise, favorites, Recommendations, road trips, skiing, snow, sunday, upstate New York, winter

What makes a perfect snow day?

photo(102)Yesterday was the first snow day my district has had this academic year – and it was well worth the wait.  I understand that we don’t all have the luxury of a delayed start or the cancellation of our work day due to the weather and think you should know I am very appreciative of this career perk.  I was so very thankful for yesterday’s surprise (2″-4″ was the forecast, I’d say 6″ or 7″ was the reality) snow day that I just might send my superintendent a thank you note.  You know how I like to do that.  Or, as my snow day, cross-country skiing partner in crime suggested, perhaps I should send that note of gratitude to the superintendent of my children’s district for not giving them the day off.  I certainly have enough appreciation to spread it out, trust me.

As I spent my found day doing fun things, I realized that I had experienced a perfect snow day.  Here are the factors which led me to that ultimate conclusion:

  • The day off was completely unexpected.  I would have been more than contented with a mere delay.
  • Speaking of delays, the fact that the boys were delayed and I was off was an incredible gift.  We had an easy morning and then there was quiet.
  • Coffee with my favorite fellow was another unexpected treat.
  • Skiing with one of my best hardcore exercise girls at Capital Hills on a day with incredible light and eventual warm temperatures.  Spring skiing rocks!
  • A terrific lunch at the golf course’s Club House.  Seriously, the food was really good!
  • Getting my Saturday chores done a day early.  It almost feels like I was given 2 days!
  • Afternoon coffee with my favorite fellow
  • Making pizza with my boys
  • A hot bath
  • A reasonable bed time

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    The secret to homemade pizza? A HOT oven.

I hope you were able to enjoy the recent (bonus) snowfall but, if you didn’t, I think I had enough fun for both of us.  You’re welcome!

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Filed under Albany, beauty, Eating, Exercise, favorites, friends, Local, pizza, Recommendations, skiing, snow, Uncategorized, winter, x-country skiing

Schooled on skiing

So cute!

So cute!

I spent most of my childhood in a village nestled in a valley between two (smallish) mountains.  Each of these mountains was home to a (smallish) ski resort.  Despite the proximity of these places to experience skiing, I personally never availed myself of the opportunity.  Skiing was always a bit beyond the budget, a fact that I recognized and accepted without question.

My first real chance to ski was as a newlywed.  We were visiting with some friends in Vermont and the plan was to ski, with borrowed equipment, from the condo to the base of the hill where we would purchase our lift tickets and enjoy an afternoon of outdoor activity.  Sounds fine, right?  Skis over my shoulder, I joined the others for the walk through the parking lots of the condo complex.  We arrived at the place where we were to snap into our skis and I looked down that hill, the whole time thinking about my lack of health insurance, and just knew it wasn’t happening for me.  I happily went back to the condo and  read the afternoon away, relieved to have avoided the certainty of a broken leg.

Years later, I had a one hour private ski lesson at Bousquet Mountain in the Berkshires.  At that point I was a fairly accomplished cross-country skier and, other than the icy mound I had to face as I disembarked the chairlift, I was pretty comfortable negotiating my way down the hills after my lesson.  Skiing was a fun activity, but not something for which I felt a burning excitement.  I was content with the affordability of cross-country and I loved the fact that I could keep my equipment in my car and take advantage of the opportunity to ski at a moment’s notice.  Winters began to feel much shorter.

Other than a winter triathlon that I participated in (“competed” in being too strong of a word), I didn’t ski again until this year and, I want to tell you, something has changed.  Skiing suddenly seems like a lot of fun and I am very much looking forward to getting back on the slopes with the frequency allowed by my budget and calendar.  Maybe it’s all the running I’ve been doing, but I find downhill skiing to be easier than cross-country. The ability to turn as I glide down hill, as opposed to skiing down the hills at Albany Muni on long skis without real edges, makes controlling my speed much more manageable.  My legs are strong and although I expected to feel some residual soreness after my day at Belleayre, I didn’t have the slightest muscle tenderness to remind me of the fun I had enjoyed.

Speaking of enjoyment, Aloysius and I brought along our generation next boys and planted them in Kids Camp for the day.  It was an investment ($100 + lunch), but we enjoyed knowing they were getting some quality instruction (2 to 1 ratio with the instructor) while we were exploring the mountain.  We had a great view of their activities from the lodge, beers firmly in hand, and they seemed to be having a good time together.  As far as the little guys enjoying the whole skiing thing, the jury is out on that.  I can tell you they probably had more fun than their teacher who noted that although the boys might be the best of “vacation buddies,” they certainly weren’t the best “learning buddies.”  What can I say – they’re lively boys.  They’ve got years ahead of them to learn to love to ski.  Trust me.

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Filed under Aloysius, Boys, Camp, Exercise, family, friends, Recommendations, skiing, snow, upstate New York, winter