Presidents Day, the Monday of the February school vacation, was hopping at Mount Snow, but crowds were not unpleasant. Thank the relatively mild weather for that, and the amount of terrain open for skiing and riding.
The visit included a tour of Carinthia, which the mountain has turned into a terrain park.
Boarders and skiers were challenging themselves on rails, boxes, ramps, jumps, and all the other features that let them balance, leap, and spin on their chosen gear.
One friend led another down alongside various features, up and along the deck of a half pipe - which seemed quite narrow - and over several bumps that involved some air under skis used to being firmly in contact with the snow, and finishing with a series of rollers.
That day ended with a quick run from summit to base lodge in the early afternoon, over a trail festooned with skiers, in a sort of "skier slalom" that was exhilarating.
On a second visit later that week, several inches of fresh snow lay atop the trails, making for delightful skiing. Delightful, that is, until one skier caught an edge, did a shoulder plant, and watched his guide disappear down the mountain. He arose, shook most of the snow off, and promptly got lost. That's not easy to do at Mount Snow, but he succeeded. He did get his bearings, eventually, and returned to the base area limping and sore. His guide laughed at him. Perfect.
Stratton on Saturday was busy, as well, but again the amount of available terrain absorbed customers like a sponge. Stratton has wonderful, rolling, New England trails that invite cruising. That visit, too, was excellent.
Presidents Week tends to be busy across the region, and this past vacation was no exception. Ample terrain allowed skiers and riders to disperse across both mountains and keep customer density fairly low except where lifts dropped off, or trails merged. Thank the extended spell of snowmaking weather that kicked off winter 2009-10 for the good cover.
Skiers and riders familiar with the mountains also could plan their day to avoid crunch spots.
For example, at Stratton one could ride the gondola to the summit and then ski the upper lifts through the morning.
Lunchtime always draws people inside, so eating early and then heading back out at noon can mean shorter lift lines.
Good weather through the week also made for more relaxed time on the trails. Waiting in lift lines was an opportunity to watch other people, especially in the absence of driving snow and bitter wind. Mornings were cold, but then this is New England in winter, and that's to be expected. A friend says, "There's no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing." He's right. New Englanders generally choose warmth over fashion, although not in every case.
This season is going well for skiers, riders, and resort operators. Christmas week was good, Presidents week was good, and most weekends have been good.
The ski season is divided into several parts, at least in New England, with the exact breakdown depending on how finely one might slice things up: the two school vacation weeks, night skiing ops at areas that offer skiing and riding under the lights; non-holiday weekends; and weekdays.
It appears as if this season is on its way to banner status. The heavy snows of last week appear to have set up a great end of season.