Sunday, December 12, 2010

Building Bridges

More fun at the fuel dock Saturday morning! My boss walked up as I was fueling up and asked if I'd take Saturday night off...duh...I'm up for a three day weekend!

With four days of rain and warm temps, there's just not that much to do. He didn't say it, but we find ourselves in Total Conservation Mode until the mercury drops and the skier visits rise.

This season a new set of tasks has been added to our list. We build and maintain cross country trails now...once we've vacated the mountain proper. It's a different sort of grooming to be sure.

This week, on said skinny ski trails, I've been filling in the same four creeks every morning. The thing is, we haven't had the right kind of snow for the application yet...not once since we opened.

We opened on Thanksgiving Eve on 100+ inches of champagne powder...on bare ground...

In a perfect world, those first inches on bare ground would be the much maligned "Sierra Cement"...lousy to ski on, but ideal for spackling granite and dirt...we call it building the Base...

Early season, there's a lot of building to be done...ramps and maze areas are pushed up and groomed, only to be enlarged as the snowpack deepens and the crowds grow. On the hill, creeks are buried...or more accurately, creeks are bridged and trails are reborn. Cat tracks, service roads, snowmobile roads, pedestrian paths...all are constructed with Nature's Miracle Building Material, snow.

There is a "Sweet Spot" in Mother Nature's building material...too dry (like those first 100+ inches of Utah Powder) and the snow won't adhere to itself enough to endure future grooming traffic....too wet, and you're building dams not bridges. Dams and their impoundments have no place on ski hills. You want water skiing? Get a boat not a lift ticket.

Add four days and nights of warm, wet weather and the pack needs conserving and drying out...all the creeks and streams are flowing big time, wetlands are lakes...not a pretty picture...we closed the cross country trails Saturday it what it is: Surrender...

I'm enjoying my first night off so far...I've got a shot at seeing the beginning of the Geminid Meteor Showers, which peak overnight Mon/Tue December 13/14 at a forecast 120 meteors per hour...Tonight, I'll be lucky to see one every two minutes!

I won't be giving any thought to snow, grooming, or building bridges until Tuesday night!

1 comment:

  1. The SNRAIN has turned to a persistent deluge! And me living in a flood plain. I must say I do find the sound of rain drops on the roof soothing. The grey is unrelenting and there is little color except for the twinkle lights that seem to be popping up here and there. Mount Vernon has a star shining on the top. Beautiful when one can actually view it through the foggy rain clouds. Too early in the winter for such emotions.