I was 16 years old the first time I went skiing. Several of my high school pals — all of whom learned to ski pretty much as soon as they could toddle — and I piled into someone’s station wagon at the crack of dawn to drive the two and a half hours from southern Westchester to Hunter Mountain. All along, my friends assured me that they would teach me everything
I needed to know. Why, it was practically no harder than sledding, said one of my friends (as she adjusted her cute bunny suit).
Right. By the time I had rented my equipment, I was exhausted. Waddling around in my clunky (and soon-to-be excruciatingly painful) boots, I was ready to call it a day long before even attempting to attach myself to my skies. Somehow, I got geared up. My friends pulled me over to the chairlift (no bunny slope for me), and before I knew what was happening, I was whooshed away into the bright blue sky. Now this I like, I thought. It was a beautiful day, sunny and mild, and I had the perfect vantage point for one of my favorite pastimes: people watching.
But then I had to get off. “Lean forward, lean forward,” my friend barked as the chair came in for a landing. I leaned forward, then I leaned back, but the one thing I did not do was let go of the chair. I was dragged around the corner, on my way back down the mountain, before a quick-thinking attendant shut down the lift and came to my aid. Then, my ever-loyal friends shouted out a few instructions, and went off down the hill. I stood frozen in the same spot for almost an hour, cursing my friends, cursing my skis, and cursing my parents for not teaching me this vital skill at a young age when it might have made a difference. Eventually, I made my way down the slope. I was terrible, I was completely miserable, and by the end of the day, I was in love with the whole thing.
We went to Hunter and Windham periodically after that. After college I branched out and started going to Vermont, and even made a few trips to Colorado and Utah to experience the famous powder. I took my first ski lesson in Colorado, but by that point I had many deeply ingrained bad habits and it was hard to relearn my skills. So I’ve never excelled at the sport, and only go a handful of times a year, but it still gives me a thrill. I love the camaraderie and the challenges of each new trail. I love the fresh air. I love the peace of being alone on a chairlift (I swear I’ve had the greatest thoughts of my life when riding alone up a mountain). So, I’ll never be a hotshot, and that’s okay. I’m what they call a wanderer: a long, easy blue that winds through the woods is heaven for me.
Working on “Mountain Madness” (page 36) reminded me of all the great recreational opportunities we have right in our own backyard. We may not have the high peaks of Colorado, or even Vermont, but we have top-notch facilities, as well as charming mom-and-pop operations that can’t be beat for quality family time. I’m thrilled that so many of our smaller ski areas are attracting new generations of loyal followers who are coming for the friendly atmosphere and (of course) for the terrain parks that draw the snowboarders. And after a day of fun, you still can be home in time for dinner. Read on for more information.
You’ll also want to check out our cover story, “Getting Your Fix,” on page 26. (Sorry it doesn’t cover where to fix broken bones from skiing or snowboarding accidents. Luckily, we have world-class hospitals around here!) We’ll lead you to more than 20 experts who can restore your rugs, repair your sewing machine, and even patch up your old antique doll. And finally, we serve up some unique twists on classic cold weather cocktails just in time for the holidays.
Here’s to a healthy and happy holiday season.
Olivia J. Abel
Editor in Chief