Wow! Opening day is finally here. And it’s a rare November opening.
Usually there’s a fairly large group of my friends (also known as The Regular Group of Idiots) that meet at least a half hour before the lifts open to get ready for the day, but since this is the day after Thanksgiving, many are out of town or traveling. Too bad for them!
This opening day there are only three of us — my friend Sammy, my daughter and I. The other regulars of the downstairs room in Yodeler Lodge are also there. Some I know by name, but most I don’t, although we all acknowledge one another with a nod or a polite “How was your summer?”
There’s Les over in the corner struggling to slide his foot into new boots and not having a good time of it. Suggestions are being offered … some are helpful, most are not. There’s the regular group settling into a group of tables along the wall, ready to make a day of it. It’s obvious that they enjoy each other’s company.
Some are noticeable by their absence. “First chair guy” is missing. My friend, Lou, and his wife, Carla, are missing, too. Since I knew why, I naturally share the fact that Lou had made a “guy” mistake (involving a ladder) while working around the house and hurt himself, not too badly but enough to miss the first few weeks of the season.
Looking around, some of the people haven’t had their boots on since the last run in the spring … it shows. And then, there are people like me who have pulled them on, walked around the house like Sasquatch and sat with them on while watching TV. (Yes, that’s what you’re supposed to do.)
Fifteen minutes before the lift starts, everyone is either outside waiting or quickly finishing up last minute adjusting of equipment. My daughter is telling anyone within earshot that she’s quite certain that she has forgotten how to ski. This is from a 19 year old who has been skiing since she was 3 years old and a ski instructor for that last three years.
We finally shuffle outside and click into our bindings. The group gathered in front of Yodeler lift is watching the clock with rapt attention. When it shows two minutes to nine, a chant starts, “Start the lift! Start the lift!”
At the appointed hour, the lift comes to life and a loud cheer goes up. We move ahead as the quad gobbles up skiers and we’re quickly aboard ready to start the season. On the way up, Sammy and I are trying to plan our first run as my daughter announces that she is now POSITVE that she has forgotten how to ski.
The lift deposits us at the top of the hill and we decide to make Yodeler the first run of the year. It turns out that my daughter stilled remembered a little about skiing and quickly put distance between her and me. The slope was a bit firm, but we all survived the trip to the bottom and loaded to go up again to check out the conditions on the rest of the hill.
By noon, we were enjoying a sandwich and a beer at the Gin Mill rehashing the morning. Some slopes were great, some not so much, but we all agreed that for November skiing, the crew at the Valley had done an excellent job getting the hill covered and in skiing condition. We picked apart each run over the meal. Except for Sammy briefly going down on Sunrise, the morning went fairly well. It was a good start for what promises to be another excellent season at Holiday Valley!