Saturday, February 23, 2008

Vail ski week 2/16-2/23, with Barbara, Josh, Ben, Ruth, Mike A.

Back Bowls

Vail- had record setting snowfall in Dec/Jan. Unfortunately, our week set a record for the least amount of snowy days this season. Still, we had excellent skiing. After all, it's still Vail.

New Snow & Blue Sky-
The week started and ended with 5" of new snow. Not really deep powder skiing but enough to lay down new tracks in virgin snow and keep things soft in most places. And the snowless days were mostly sunny, good for visibility and photos. All the instructors were commenting on how great it was to see blue sky for a change!

Highline Sunrise

Steep & Deep- In Blue Sky Basin. This was my favorite run of the week! Mike and I split off from our little posse to do this one. The snow was fantastic, big round moguls, steep pitch, enough space between the trees to make my turns. I felt like a skier going down this run.

Mike contemplating.

Prima Cornice- On the frontside. Both Josh and Ben did this run in ski school. Josh told me it was steep with big moguls. That sounded like fun. He didn't mention that they always enter through the second gate. Mike and I went in the first. From near the top it looked pretty extreme and I was ready to turn around, but Mike thought it looked like, "Steep and Deep". It wasn't. It was much tighter between the trees, not much room to turn. How do trees grow on something this steep? It was unnerving just trying to find a perch to rest on up there. It was clear that catching an edge meant that there was nothing to break a fall, straight down, but the trees. It got a little better as we went down and to the left, and at about halfway we came out to a more open area, steep but with big moguls. Mike commented, "it looks like a beginners run!" This part was soft, snowy, really nice. I loved the second half but it wasn't worth the first half. Next time we'll know- take the second gate.

Tragedy- Ruth, at 85, is always an inspiration to us youngsters. We all hope that we'll still be pursuing our beloved sports when we're her age. We also hope that she can keep skiing, for as long as she wants, into maturity. That's why it was particularly upsetting when she got hit by an out of control girl in the back bowls. I didn't see the crash but I saw the two sprawled skiers making the long slide to the bottom of a steep pitch. My heart was in my throat when the snow cleared and I recognized the colors of Ruth's jacket. It took her a long time to get up but she was able to ski down to the lift and ride up out of the bowls before the pain really set in. The ski patrol gave her a toboggan ride down to the hospital where she was told that she had a fractured upper arm. We were all extremely sad to see her catch a flight home the next morning, her arm in a sling. The good news is that the fracture should heal very well, better than a soft tissue injury. We are sending her lots of love and healing wishes.

Click on small pictures to see full size.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Deep Hole Directions & Details

Deep Hole, Low Tide, Looking South, Launch Area

Launch- If it's your first time sailing here you should ask others about the best place to launch through the rocks. At low tide it's easier to see the layout. The rocky land sticks out to the right and to the left with a deeper place in the middle where most people launch. Starting in the middle in waist deep water is usually fine at any tide. This is where you'll be if you walk straight down from the left end of the parking lot. When sailing back in don't sail in too far on the right side, (west), of the launch. There are a few larger rocks there that may be near the surface in waist to chest deep water. The left side, (east), and the middle are mostly small rocks, relatively safe to sail in shallow.

Deep Hole, Near High Tide, Looking South, Launch Area

Boring Details- Booties are a must for walking across the rocks. Best waves are at high tide and incoming tide. Any south direction will build up waves. S & SE are reported to build the nicest swells. SW builds wind waves, although they can still get big. W is sideshore, great for waveriding but you need left over waves from the SW, S, or SE. NW to NE are very gusty, offshore, not recommended. S, SW, W are starboard tack heading out.

Deep Hole, Near High Tide, Looking East, Point Break, Good Sailing

Hazards- Rocks, waves, and it's easy to get blown downwind away from the point. People and equipment have been hurt here. Waves are often small to medium but can get mast high. It can be hard to get out in S, SW, (onshore wind), when the waves are medium to big. It can be very choppy on the outside in strong winds. If you blow downwind you can make it to a beach and walk back but you may need to avoid the rock wall, if waves are reaching it. You can sail downwind of the point, to the east, (in SW or W), to take a break from the waves, as long as you have enough power to sail upwind to get back. That's where the actual deep hole is.

Deep Hole, Near High Tide,
Looking West, Don't Launch Here

Directions- In Massachusettes take Rt. 95 south into R.I. Go thru Providence, take Rt 4 south, (left side exit). Rt 4 turns into Rt 1. Follow Rt. 1 past Pt. Judith and East Matunuck State Beach, take exit for Matunuck Beach Rd., (left side exit), this will put you on Rt. 1 north briefly, then take right side exit for Matunuck Beach Rd. The road goes to the ocean and then turns left to follow the beach. When the paved road takes a sharp left away from the water, continue straight towards dirt Rd, (still Matunuck Beach Rd). A small dirt parking lot will be on the right with a small sign saying Deep Hole Fishing Area. Park at the far end of the lot. 1 1/2 hour drive from Boston area.

Deep Hole, Matunuck

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Deep Hole, Windsurfed, W, SSW, WSW, 20-54?, Mitch, Blake, Steve, 4.2 & 3.5/RW 85, 42-38 air temp. 41 water temp.

Stress cleaner- I had a stressful week. Is there anything more humbling than being the parent of a teenager? I know, I know, being the parent of two teenagers. I'll find out about that in a few years. Anyway, my urge to sail was pretty high on the Want-O-Meter because I had this frustration and angst to clean out. So I made the best of less-than-best conditions. It did the trick. I came home smiling.

Conditions- It was a beautiful, sunny afternoon with three of us out on small boards and sails having a good time, not bothering anyone. Then, before we knew it, some black, streaky clouds appeared on the horizon, like an ugly frown. As the clouds approached the wind notched up into the, "oh *****", range, chasing everyone out of the pool, (IWindsurf showed gusts over 50 but who knows). We got course sand blowing down the beach, heavy snow blowing sideways, and side-off wind. Then the clouds passed, the wind shifted back, and dropped off until the next band of clouds appeared on the horizon and it started to build again, to be repeated several times to varying degrees. I was mostly overpowered, underpowered, or sitting on the beach waiting for the perfect moment in the build/diminish cycle. I got a few perfect moments, like below, but they were fleeting. My guess is that only someone who really, really needed a windsurfing session would have enjoyed this day.

A jump to remember- As I drove home I found myself dwelling on one particular jump. It was a little different from most of my jumps. I was slightly overpowered on the 4.2, dead sideshore wind in the 30-40 MPH range. I hit a good wave as it crested, and went for it. When I leveled out, at the top of the jump, I felt myself drifting sideways, pushed by the wind, while still moving forward. I've felt a little sideways drift before but never as much as this. I felt like a feather in a gale. It made me very aware of the power of the wind under the board. It was a little scary but fascinating, and fun. I'm sure it increased my hang time. I completed my arc, landed O.K., and came away thinking about that flying, drifting feeling. I'd like some more of that please. I think that one jump was probably worth the price of admission.

Top picture- The calm after the squall.
Mid Picture- Mitch. "Where did the wind go"?
Bottom picture- Mitch. Nukin' wake!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Sunday River Ski Weekend, Barbara, Josh, Ben, Al, Lee, Anna

Here's a good joke- We get an incredible forecast for windsurfing for early February, (50 air temp, sunny, SW gale, weekend), and where am I? At Sunday River, where most of the mountain is shut down due to the high winds. This caused the 2 or 3 lower lifts that were open to get clogged with skiiers from the rest of the planet. And we were skiing on crust from an overnight snow that turned to sleet. While I was standing in the endless lift lines I had plenty of time to try to appreciate the humor of the situation. Very funny. If there is an omnipotent being that peers down on us mortals from the clouds, she was having a good laugh at my expense.

Skiing faster than the speed of light- The skiing got better after that and I was able to put windsurfing out of my mind. They opened most of the lifts in the afternoon, on Saturday, and the crust got skiied off quickly, revealing a sparkeling new snow underneath. Everyone in our group had given up on skiing except Al, Josh, and me, so Al took us around the mountain at a full clip trying to make up for lost time. His full speed is just about as fast as the skiis will go. The slopes seemed a little blurry at that speed in the flat light. Luckily, my skiis knew what to do. Barbara, Lee and Anna went snowshoeing, which they report is much more demanding than the wimpy skiing that we were doing.

The good and the bad- Sunday was a fine ski day. Lots of glades were open, making Al very excited and keeping Josh from being a bored teenager. Anna tussled with a tree and went back to the house to ice and elevate her knee. We stopped a little early so we could get back for the Superbowl. My two high points of the trip: Saturday evening in the outdoor hot tub with Al, Ben, and the Beatles, leaned back and looking up at the stars; Trying out an extra pair of skiis, much wider and more shaped than mine, that just felt great. Al & Lee were wonderful hosts, as always. Josh drove the whole way home, his first driving on a highway trip.

Top picture- Josh in full ski regalia.
Bottom picture- Al doing what he loves best.