Happy Trails: Get ready now for your trip to the slopes (Jan. 21, 2009)

Get ready now for your trip to the slopes

If Sunday’s snowstorm got you thinking, hey, let’s go skiing! — you’re not alone.

Bluebird conditions tend to make us all a little Bode about things, so this week’s Happy Trails is Part One of your organizational primer for an easy, worry-free trip to the hills after a long offseason.

You need only put a little thought and time into trip prep to avoid forgetting something vital or having to search while January becomes June.

For example, pulling sweaters and neoprene masks out of a duffle bag in the attic isn’t for the 4 a.m. powder-day push for first chair; it’s for, say, October.

On any snow day for which I may be eligible, I make sure my skis and poles are in the vehicle the night before. One less thing to worry about.

Next to the front door, I put my ski boots and travel bag containing everything I’ll need for the day.

I always keep the ski boots inside if a ski day is coming, since warm plastic is more flexible and, thus, easier to screw on than cold rigid ski boots.

Packed in the travel bag the night before is a fairly routine checklist of things: garments that protect your body, especially fingers and toes, against cold, wind and precipitation; extra clothing layers; any athletic aid such as knee braces; lunch; water bottles; and essential accessories such as hat or helmet, goggles or sunglasses (I always prefer the latter); neck warmer or balaclava; extra gloves or mittens; thin pair of “liner” gloves, especially nice for spring; heat packs; and sunscreen with a high SPF.

Then, before bed, I set the coffee maker.

If you wake up at 4 a.m. thinking you’ll be able to find that pair of purple mittens you bought in Aspen, or even the ski poles you KNOW you left behind the garden rakes in the back of the tool shed, you’re at the short end of a very long curve (of automobiles snaking their way slowly up the mountain road ahead of you).

For those heading to their favorite neighborhood area, not much else is needed; the car may even drive itself. But for adventurers heading to new digs, I also find much usefulness in the car-mounted GPS.

Again, one less thing to worry about.

You’re already dressed in underwear of polypropylene or other synthetic fibers that wick away perspiration; a light shirt or turtleneck to replace; a fleece layer for insulation and warmth; and a breathable outer layer for wind and water protection. You also want to bring one lightweight and one heavy parka: Pack the thinner one, wear the bulky one, to protect against the inevitable change in mountain weather.

I usually wear my thin undergarment layers plus jeans and Sorels in the car, then gear up into the ski stuff in the day lodge. That way, you’ll be so much more comfortable in the car and, after you’re done, you can do apres ski without trudging back to the car.

In the next few weeks, we’ll look at mountain driving tips to get you to the lifts in one piece, and tips for choosing a ski school.

Events this week, courtesy of Ski Maine. Call before you go.

Wednesday: Free ski night at municipally-owned Spruce Mountain in Jay (897-4090), and the Backcountry Touring Experience at Mt. Abram in Greenwood (875-5000).

Thursday: Two for one tickets at Mt. Abram.

Friday: 2009 Lenny Clarke Celebrity Ski Classic (through Sunday), Sunday River, Newry (824-3000); snowmobile hill climb, Black Mountain of Maine, Rumford (364-8977); and “Car Load Friday,” in which $75 gets a lift ticket for “each passenger legally seated in a passenger car, SUV or minivan,” at Mt. Abram.

Sunday: Maine Special Olympics (through Tuesday), Sugarloaf Outdoor Center; Old Timer’s Event, Carter’s Farm XC, Bethel; 8th Annual Shawnee Peak/Ernie’s Cycle Shop Snow Mountain Bike Race Presented by Ernie’s Cycle Shop, Shawnee Peak, with practice runs starting at 10 and the event starting at 11 a.m. (854-4090 or bike_boy2002@yahoo.com).

Monday: Go50 Week (through Jan. 30), Sunday River, free Snowflake Factory tours, a wine dinner, moonlit snowshoeing, a sock hop and other good stuff (824-3000).

Categories: Skills/Tips Tags: Skiing, Downhill Skiing, Preparation

To view the column as it appeared in the online properties of Blethen Maine Newspapers, click here

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