Published on September 22nd, 2014 | by lafelow0
Fall and Airborne Mice
I’m an old-fashioned kind of guy. I’ve lived in New England all my life. I love the traditions that go along with the changing of the seasons. New England is perhaps best known for the fall season, when the greens of summer ignite into a brilliant palette of yellows, deep reds and oranges. The mountainsides blaze with the peaceful fury of fall foliage. Mugs of mulled cider warm our hands and hearts on those cool fall nights, and we light up the first few fires in the fireplace. Yeah, yeah, yeah—all those cliché images and statements about the coming of fall apply.
Those are indeed wonderful and comforting traditions that conjure up Norman Rockwellian images, but they’re far from being my favorite fall traditions. Not a chance. What do I look forward to in the fall? The roar of snowguns being fired off at some of the larger ski areas in northern New England! As I write this, Sugarloaf and Sunday River in Maine have just fired off the guns for the first time. It’s borderline ridiculous how excited this gets me season after season. Well, what can I say? I am a dyed-in-the-wool skibum. And that’s that.
This is pre-season ritual—the testing of the snowmaking systems— they call “blowing out the mice.” Over the summer, some small furry critters take up residence in the snowmaking plumbing that remains draped over the mountain. When that first blast of high pressure air goes flying through, those summer residents are rather forcefully and suddenly evicted. It’s not about airborne chipmunks or cruelty to rodentia, but the beautiful fact that I will soon be gliding on the snow in the delicate balance of control and freefall that is skiing.
I am indeed looking forward to fall hiking and fall camping—believe me. I have several hikes remaining to complete my research on Best Day Hikes on the Appalachian Trail: New England. Researching this book has taken me all over New England to places I probably would never have explored otherwise, for which I am profoundly thankful. Places like Old Mt. Blue in western Maine, the Jug End State Reservation in western Massachusetts, Harmon Hill in south central Vermont, all stellar hikes and a serious test of one’s stamina, balance and ability to find the trailhead. At this writing, I still have to hike and report on Pico in Vermont. If I’m lucky, I’ll be able to combine all those passions and spend the weekend camping, hiking and skiing at Killington.
I do love hiking, camping, mountain biking, kayaking and being able to go outside without performing a 15 minute ritual of dressing against the elements, but it’s the snow and winter and skiing that feed my soul. Nothing else comes close.