While I doubt that either Shakespeare or Julius Caesar would have any interest in Nordic skiing, the Ides of March that came and went on Monday may have very well been a portend to the terminus of the ski trails here – maybe not as sudden as the demise of Caesar, but a signal of the end nonetheless. For those that ventured out early this week, there were a few mornings of magic-hour skiing, where a layer of loose granular snow that had been groomed to mitigate the icy crust facilitated some very enjoyable skate skiing before it succumbed into a wet, slushy configuration under the full strength of the midday to afternoon sun.
Despite sections of trail that seemed to defy the onslaught of Spring meltdown, the progression of exposed and icy sections increased daily, propelled by double-digit temperatures on the plus side of zero. Any remaining contiguous trail gave way to sections of snow interspersed with growing patches of grass, leaves, mud, gravel, ice, slush, and water. While some impassioned skiers, ever seeking their “last ski of the season” are portaging sections that will not safely transport their skis underfoot, it is not safe or feasible to carry on with any further grooming operations. And thus, we will wistfully observe the course of seasonal transition here, noting that even the Moose seem to recognize that the trails are now perhaps open for their enjoyment as well without disturbing the work of the groomers or the endeavors of the skiers.
It has been an interesting and challenging season in many aspects, not the least of which is the overall deficit in snowfall. Our groomers managed to coax the November snowfall into almost three months of skiable snow before any subsequent snow came to refresh and refurbish the trails. The replenishing snow was soon followed by the deep freeze of the polar vortex, which, while preserving the snow, was not conducive to actually enjoying it. However, there were many days of glorious skiing that were thoroughly enjoyed, and thus we’ll take the overall ski season in context and call it a success: freshly groomed trails as often as we could, and happy skiers. Thanks for your “Thank-yous”, your smiles and waves, and for safely enjoying your ski time at SWC this season!