Thursday, October 1, 2009

Chain Controls

September is gone now, but Mother Nature got her licks in as the month ended. Tonight's Bay Area 10PM News shows had video of snowplows working on the Mount Rose Highway. Chain controls were in effect over the top of Mt Rose Summit. The 11PM News had video of Boreal Ridge, where they fired up some snowmaking fans overnight, making a few patches of ManMade on Gunnar's Run for the cameras. All on the last night of September.

Hearts are aflutter, and newbies on the mountain didn't get much sleep overnight. I remember that giddiness from a few decades ago. Not much responsibility back then to keep my feet on the ground, staying 'till last call at the local watering hole reveling in the turn of the weather, and the day off due to the snowfall. It was an occasion, after all, to be celebrated! Not a care in the world, maybe time to get a Chain Control Pool together at the Highway Lodge Bar.

Those Chain Control Pools seemed so Big and meaningful then, though they were just a part of the Fall Rituals, that turned our heads towards wintertime pursuits. Rituals are respite from the months or more of cutting, splitting, hauling and stacking cord upon cord of firewood. When I lived on Donner Summit, firewood was a Summer/Fall project. We'd cut firewood a couple evenings a week after work, hauling it home every time we made a truckload, and in time we had a small mountain of firewood along side the cabin.

In fall, we'd bring home the hydraulic splitter and split and stack the dozen or so cords that would see us through Winter. They say "Firewood warms you twice"...Clearly, "they" obviously never did their own firewood...there's plenty of hot, sweaty work involved...several warm-up cycles worth, in fact.

Another month from now, the next step in the Fall Ritual Cycle is the return to Standard Time. Spring Forward, Fall Back is the mnemonic, and it used to coincide with the other Major Fall Ritual, Halloween, but Washington DC didn't see fit to leave well enough alone, and meddled with the timing of Daylight Savings Time a few years back. The idea was to save a little more energy, and tip the hat to saving the Planet at the same time. Studies say more energy is used lighting and heating the dark hours at schools and homes around the country since the change...oh well, they meant well...

The first snow always gets everyone's attention in the mountains, Winter's coming...get ready! The racing hearts always give way to the reality that ski season isn't likely to really open before Thanksgiving. It's rare that any Mountain opens before the last week of November...except Boreal Ridge. Boreal strives to turn their one lift over an acre or two of ManMade snow in time for Night Skiing on Halloween Night, and the Live Remote News cameras.

It's another Fall's Celebrated, really...on the Mountain anyway.

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