Ski The East: Uncovering the Mystery


Ski The East Sticker
Photo: In My Shoes



I’m trading Wasatch powder to ski the east.

You may not realize how bold a move this is, but coming from Utah, the land of champagne snow, this may kick me squarely outside of my social circles. I have been MIA in that state since the end of last ski season, traveling the southeast to visit family and get inspired by new scenery. But friends knew I couldn’t resist the calling of snow and, with the 2012-2013 season approaching, began asking when they could expect me back.

“Soon,” was always my reply. I meant it, but I had a few things to take care of first.

Skiers traditionally look for the best powder, the most vertical, the terrain they can go back and show off their GoPro videos about. Utah has that in spades and you don’t have to go far to find it. As a skier, I still want that. But as a girl blessed (or cursed) with an over-generous share of wanderlust, I have a secret most skiers would hesitate to reveal — more likely, none have ever felt.

Sometimes, even with all that perfect powder, I grow restless and pine for the east.

Don't confuse this feeling with boredom. I’m a red-blooded skier who lusts after powder as readily as the girl who uses the “Singles” lane to rush back to her secret stash in record time. But as I’m riding the lift with an East-coaster on the most incredible powder day, I’ve found myself wishing I was the one returning to an east coast ski hill. In that distant land, I imagined rugged, flannel-clad skiers who charge hard on equally hard snow, stoked when a few inches of fresh fall from the sky to grace their slopes.

Skiers in Flannel
Obviously East Coast skiers...right?
Photo: Team Heat
That’s what I imagined, anyway. But I had no idea — and that’s what bothered me.

I take the sport of skiing seriously, my dedication going beyond tracking total vertical and racking up max ski days each season. I want to know the ins and outs of my obsession and pinpoint what it is that creates passion for two planks.  This dedication is what led to the final project of my college career — a 20-page paper documenting the 5,000-year history of skiing — and what created an idea which has kept me from returning immediately to early-season snow in Utah.

Pardon my pressing rewind, but doing so may help reveal some sanity behind this rogue idea of mine. In my college days, I studied maps; being a geography major, it was my educational duty. As I pored over the printed landmasses, I often found myself wandering to North America, seeking out symbols that denoted a ski hill. This distraction revealed mass amounts of ski areas completely unknown to me: I located ski hill in Georgia that was in operation every other year, a now-defunct slope in Alabama, skiing in the maritimes of Nova Scotia, and even a tiny hill in my own Utah which catered to beginners.

It all fascinated me. Did people in these areas love skiing so much that they would put up with less-than ideal conditions just to participate? Was it just another recreational diversion with no real passion behind it? Who actually went to these places? How did they dress? Were the hills any good?

On and on the questions raced through my mind. I wanted to know the history of each ski region, the people that made each ski hill unique, the lifestyles that surround each mountain and the economies that support these wintery slopes.

This fascination has yet to be quenched, so I've hit the road yet again. This time I’ve set out to weave together the cultures and regional flairs that make up the tapestry of our skiing landscape. I’m meeting the royalty along with the “social outcasts” of skiing — the hills so unknown they aren’t even graced with a map symbol.

This journey begins in the Canadian maritime, in a place very few western skiers can place on a map, let alone have given a single thought to ski.

Coming soon.

. . . 

Part II in the Ski the East series: Ski Martock, Nova Scotia

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