Is it just me, or does the utterance of “Winterfest” trigger a crazy potent sense of excitement and general well-being? Once, a friend was trying to convince me to hop a last-minute flight to Queenstown, New Zealand, and I was kind of on the fence–until he said, “Oh, and it’s Winter Festival.” Suddenly, visions of hot choc (with marshmallows), scarf-wearing snowmen, fireworks, and all things magical were dancing through my head. Before I knew it, I was somewhere high above the Tasman Sea, trying not to think about the massive snowstorm through which I was flying.
While the skiing in that instance was totally worth the trip, the Winter Festival itself was kind of a bust. Not, at all, like Sunday River’s Winterfest last weekend. After a life-changing bloody mary from Cho Sun, I left the mountain on Saturday afternoon and missed Santa arriving via Chondola, but I got back in time to watch a bunch of Maine-iacs glide into South Ridge under spotlights, icicles growing from their beards. Just below their grins. And it was already beginning to snow.
Nighttime skiers marched up to the Foggy Goggle and, instead of trying to thaw out with some kind of hot, boozy beverage, they crammed themselves onto the [outdoor] slopeside deck to watch the fireworks display. Scarcely has a population so smitten with winter been seen. As I looked around, I felt like the only dork who was duped into wearing an ugly sweater. I ordered a vodka. After a while, the other ugly sweater owners came out of the woodwork and ordered their own vodkas. And some of them turned out to be part of Shut Down Brown, a stellar funk band that entertained us all night long. Others posed for photos that undoubtedly looked different, in the brutal light of Facebook, than they’d expected. Nah, all of those photo booth photos look great. More to the point, the people in them look like they are having the max amount of fun allowed at ugly sweater parties. (That’s really a lot of fun.)
I actually bailed on the sweater party, despite my very festive attire, because the snow was really beginning to pile up. And also, I had to be back at the mountain for the early lift–before 7 a.m.. I drove home like a grandma (because I’m not a native of these snowy Northlands), managed to be asleep by midnight, woke up at 5 a.m., and discovered nine inches of glorious, weightless powder on my doorstep. Literally. It’s a wonder I managed to get out of my driveway that morning. Anyway, Sunday was probably the best East Coast skiing that I, for one, have ever experienced. Well, my equipment left a little to be desired (it lacks what we call “float”), but over a foot of virgin snow on American Express, overlooking the entire frozen valley, with no one else in sight, was unforgettable. Magical, you might even say. Winterfest. It’s so damn good!