Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Guest Relations -- From your Ski Director

Winding my way through a moody dripping forest of pines and hardwood in, I'm softly upon the throttle of my trusty orange old-school Skidoo Alpine workhorse snowmobile, watching the Tailings slowly move out of my peripheral vision, taking note of this tree to be cut, that sign to be repainted (OK, so, when we we're getting ready in early December we had part-timer Shannen out repainting signs. During Christmas week Beth Maher showed me a funny photo of a Bobcat Trail sign that Shannen must have been rushing to complete as it now says "Boboat Trail"...), other items and issues to address. Visions of skiers keep coming at me through the mist, memories of the lung scorching training loops I did with my co-worker Adam and friend Reuben are still fresh, the diffuse light sifting through the trees unveiling familiar views and references that I used to gauge time with. I can hear the echoes of your voices laughing, the staccato beat of pole tips striking snow, the legato swoosh of fish-scaled skis rhythmically gliding pleasantly forward in a well laid track. Alas I am not out grooming and greeting passing skiers this time; rather I am pulling down all of our ropes, ribbons and trail markers -- cleaning up and leaving behind no traces of our presence here over the last few months as the woods become relatively still and silent, save for the trickle of melting snow and the whoosh of wind in the treetops. Kind of saying good bye to this season while preparing for the next.

Though this winter's light snowfall and temperatures had been nearly record-setting (and not in a positive way for our Nordic tendencies) this season has been very rich in experiences, and we've tried our hardest to please each an every one of you. One of the greatest joys of the atmosphere at Garnet Hill is the magic that surrounds everyone here being so happily on vacation, whether for a day trip or for an extended visit. The magic of freedom and recreation being the only things on your agenda, the magic of happiness and relaxation and simply sliding around on snow. In the woods. It is a wonderful thing to be so singular of purpose, so open to a world of experience here. Our season pass holders and local folks, regional ski racers and day trippers are all familiar faces, so too are the ones who stay a little longer and those who have been coming repeatedly for years. If you are new to visiting Garnet Hill, your face will soon be familiar, and it is that personal relationship that I relish; chatting with you on the trails and perhaps sharing a technique tip or two, greeting you at Roger's Road bus pick-up with my hot tea in hand and passing out granola bars, or greeting you and your group in the lodge dining room sharing laughs and passing out information or directions while reliving your adventure, plotting your next adventure and generally fueling your stoke about living in the moment. I have taken pictures for you, may have conducted a ski lesson for you, perhaps have even skied at night with you. I've may have seen you out skiing early while I was grooming at first light, or welcomed you in after a fulfilling day out on the trails. I may have waxed your trusty old skis, or mounted brand new ones for you to become one with. Shaking hands, sharing experiences and smiling greetings each time are daily gestures. It is the intimacy of slowing down from busy lives to the tactile elements that uniquely take hold of you here that is the real beauty and deep value of your experience -- that suspension of time held, leaning on your poles and scanning the mountainous horizon upon a frozen 13th Lake on a calm silent blue-sky day, sensations like the cold on your cheeks on a crisp morning, listening to the groaning and crackling of the lake late at night on a moonlit ski adventure, smelling the pines and freshly fallen snow, standing in front of the lodge taking in the view, reveling in the collective uptake of energy that Nordic skiing provides, of taking in whole breaths and holding in the sweet Adirondack goodness just a little longer. It is that experience that we love to be part of, love helping create for you. It enriches us to hear of your adventures, to ski with you a little, to provide you with a lot .

For me personally there is an emotional component to writing this as I have really enjoyed every bit of this season. I have intimately weathered it's trials and tribulations, endlessly squinted at radar searching for snow, waxed skis methodically and waxed poetically about my adventures after a late night in the backcountry. Earlier in the year, sleep deprivation was driven by the crush to get ready for the season -- clearing and re-marking snowshoe trails, endless brush cutting to widen ski trails, splitting wood and just running around like crazy to ensure a smoothly running ski shop while fueled with the anticipation of the coming season and the energy of the transition that we were experiencing with Don at the helm. Later, as the season was in full swing, skiers were all around and the lodge was full, sleeplessness was driven by adventures, joyous eating and clinking of glasses with guests, endlessly playing (I mean working) and striving to make your stay as fun-filled as possible (and making sure, no matter what, that I was up at 6:00am updating the snow report). Putting this all away is as inevitable as the change of seasons. Shaking hands with you as you departed was special, and knowing that we all had great experiences is especially gratifying.

As many of you know I depart for the summer months, so I would like to take this opportunity to thank my ski shop staff for their tremendous efforts all season -- they are awesome. I need to thank lead groomer Dale Monthany -- with his tremendous efforts managing little snow this season's pleasurable ski conditions were made possible (and since the Old Faithful Trail memorializes his father, can I call Dale lil' Old Faithful? Just don't tell him...). I must thank the Lodge staff for their expertise in serving up you guys a great experience and for working in tandem with our ski operation to provide you with a phenomenal package. And for putting up with me. I would really like to thank Don a Mindy for giving me this chance to do what I love and trusting me in their first season of ownership. And finally, I would like to thank all of you for coming and skiing and playing and staying and enjoying a phenomenal Adirondack experience here at Garnet Hill -- it is a truly special place, it's wonder created by it's wilderness setting, our efforts, and your enjoyable energy.

As we transition into spring there is so much more adventure and experience to provide you with this year. Spring, summer and fall each provide their own unique environments and opportunities to enjoy the mountains and the charm of Garnet Hill Lodge. Don and Mindy have some really great plans going forward, and you will be pleased with the changes in store. Adventure is just a short drive away, and your memories and experiences are timeless. I personally look forward to seeing you all again soon -- have a great summer.

(PS: if you would like to keep in touch with me this summer, please feel free to email me here: jay@ewrbikes.com)

Start of the School Race

Framed by the rack

Early winter morning view

Linking tele turns in the PSIA Backcountry Clinic

Not the loaf you want to see ! Damien going nowhere fast...

Night skiing out on the Botheration Pond loop brings you to this massive Adirondack bridge.

Full moon and fire!

Happy Birthday to YOU! We'll happily make you a cake, whatever you passion may be.

Happy Skiday to me! Lovely season passholder Zlata's homeade chocolate log!

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