Hello skiers and riders of the southeast. In what has felt like an abnormally longer than usual offseason we have some great news, the waiting period is a few weeks away from setting over the horizon. If you are born to ski (or ride) and come with a built-in internal skiing alarm clock I am fairly certain that thing is about to erupt at the highest decibels possible. I know mine is.
Perhaps I am a bit of a diehard by saying this, but one way I like to cope with that ticking sensation is to get the gear prepared for Ski Day #1. Now is the best time to address any equipment issues and make sure things are in working order.
The routine starts off with the accessories and clothing because that tends to be an easier fix. I get the gloves, goggles, and helmet out to inspect for any tearing, fraying, or cracks. Are they game day ready? If yes go ahead and move on. If no then take the time to stitch, adhere, or substitute.
Next would be the sweaters, snow pants, and jackets. Any punctures or tears that could allow moisture and cold air to pierce through? If so can it be patched up, or will a total replacement be necessary? There is no shame in using duct tape.
Don’t forget the base layers, socks, and the now more important than ever face masks too. Wash them if they have been hibernating for months while encapsulating the previous season’s musky aroma. If they are beyond reproach you can add them to your gift wish list, and perhaps they will appear during the holidays wrapped in trail map paper.
How about the boots? One should put them on, buckle in, and wiggle your toes. If they feel the same as before you might be all set, but any concerns of aging should be consulted with by a ski shop technician. More on that in a moment.
Once those quick steps are finished it becomes time to apply some necessary elbow grease. From here I tend to focus mainly on the bottom surface and edges of my skis. I am looking for deep gouges on the base that require simple P-Tex in order to make the surface smooth again. Consider it to be like a dental filling for your skis or board. Be very careful while dripping this into the cavities, because the P-Tex melts at almost 1000° Fahrenheit.
As for the edges I am looking for rust and possible dullness. A few hearty passes with a scouring pad should take care of the rust, and then it is just a simple pass with appropriate edging tools to get them tuned in. Like new is good to go.
If you are unable to perform these relatively simple tasks do yourself a favor and contact your local ski shop. They tend to get slammed the moment the first snowstorm occurs and will certainly be backed up around every major holiday during the season. This time of year they are not as busy, which means they can give a little bit extra attention and care to your equipment. They too are amped up for the upcoming season.
So once the prep work is done what shall you do, wait? No way! Get outside now and enjoy the transition from summer to winter firsthand.
A crowd favorite option is to go for a drive and check out Mother Nature up close and personal. I was fortunate enough to do that the other day on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and what I can report back is that there is a fair amount of time remaining to enjoy this for yourself. The most vibrant moments I witnessed on this majestic road were alongside Grandfather Mountain, NC where that stretch of pavement hovers around 4,400 feet of elevation. The reds, oranges, yellows, and greens were complemented splendidly with blue skies and low hanging white clouds. In the coming days that pallet of perfection will descend to lower elevations, so plan accordingly.
It was not just the sense of sight that got stimulation though. Rolling down the windows ushered in crips cool air that gave hints of Ullr’s upcoming arrival.
The smell of the forest trees and an occasional campfire while passing nearby campsite got the nose’s attention. There were a few local stands that sold apple butter, pumpkin-spiced drinks, and other flavorful fall treats. Last but not least the ears had their moments too when the fast-moving tires met leaves that have fluttered to the pavement and let out a unique crunchy sound.
These words cannot truly describe what this was like, so your best bet is to just go experience it yourself. I saw multiple people at various overlooks taking advantage by having a picnic, reading a book, walking on a trail with a companion, or just simply sitting in silence while smiling.
In a few moments the fluttering leaves falling to the ground will give way to snowflakes mimicking the process.
I hope you are looking forward to the scenery metamorphosizing once again from a spectacular pallet of predominantly warm colors to that of cool colors and bright wintery white.