A few weeks ago I purchased my flight and Spring Pass to Timberline. With the excitement building I decided to write up a summary of my 2015 spring trip to relive the memories.
Mount Hood is one of the few places in North America where lift service skiing can be accessed year round. However, being a college student the most affordable time to visit is the spring due to the extremely variable weather. After the spring semester wrapped up I set my sites on Mt. Hood to link up with friends from all over the country. Some came by plane others came by car; we all made it to our camping area at Trillium Lake by the third week of May. Trillium Lake is a lake like no other, providing a postcard worthy view of Mount Hood. Trillium Lake is the ideal area for camping, situated just 30 minutes away from Timberline Lodge and 20 minutes from the nearest town Government Camp.
The skiing at Timberline this time of year is hit or miss, this why the three month long pass at Timberline is only $109. We had five days of rain back to back, three of which Timberline was closed for skiing. These three days were spent exploring the Mount Hood Area. Our first day was spent driving the Fruit Loop, enjoying fresh fruit smoothies and various types of fruit at mom and pop fruit stands. The second day was spent hunting for waterfalls around the Mount Hood Area Tamanawas Falls was my favorite; due the long gradual hike that leads directly up to the bottom of the falls, where we were greated we a refreshing mist from the falls. Our third day was devoted to exploring the small city of Hood River. Hood River is filled with many activities for the action sports lover; the first half of our day was spent enjoying their massive concrete skatepark. The second half of our day was spent hanging out by the water a Hood River watching kiteboarders and windsurfers rip around with winds provided by the Columbia River Gorge. After the five rain days Mother Nature reciprocated, giving us seven days of bluebird skiing at Timberline. We spent these days skiing Timberline’s famed spring terrain park and exploring the Mount Hood’s vast sidecountry offerings. After our Timberline Spring Pass expired we drove three hours west to Cape Kiwanda in the quaint town Pacific City. Where we spent two days relaxing, beach camping and attempting to surf. Before departing back to the Portland International Airport where I caught my flight back to the Burlington International Airport.
With the amount of snow slowly dawdling at most east coast resorts we had to go north to find more. Friday morning I hopped in the Ski The East Subaru with Production Manger Cam Willis, and Ski The East athlete Zach Masi with our sights set on Sugarloaf on Maine. Before making the four and a half hour trek we made a quick pit stop in Lydonville snagging one more Ski The East athlete and all around good dude Sawyer Sellingham. Once we arrived at Sugarloaf we checked into our icy 12 person condo and headed up to meet Terrain Park Manager Jake.
Jake had spent the whole morning in the groomer pushing snow for the Ski The East feature on mid mountain. We caught last chair at 3:45pm to go preview and fine tune the setup before the rest of the crew arrived later that evening. As we rode up the Sugarloaf Superquad up we saw the set up jake had been creating all morning looming in the distance. It looked great but we knew there would be some serious fine turning before our set up could be ski able. Luckily we ran into Dam Dryjas and Clayton Gamble who had been skiing Sugarloaf all day waiting for our arrival. Our crew of eight began shaping, fine turning the set up and enjoying 70 degree temps for about three hours. It seemed like it happened almost instantly, the clouds rolled in from the backside of Sugarloaf. The rain started to fall a light drizzle at first, which served as a comedic cool down for about 10 minutes. Then the sky opened up, we were in a torrential downpour halfway up Sugarloaf. The whole crew ditched our shovels on the side of the trail, quickly vacating skiing down from mid mountain with almost zero visibly. By the time we made to back to the Ski The East Subaru the crew was throughly soaked the rain showed no sign of slowing down.
Once dried off at the condo the rain was still coming down the vibes were ominous. The thought was running through everyones head “How did this happen? The NOAA app showed no precipitation for the whole weekend. Will our 4 hours of shaping and fine turning literally get washed away?”. This would have been detrimental to the shoot requiring us to rebuild the set up the next morning before starting the shoot, which would have easily taken at least six hours. We sat at the condo watching the rain fall, eating chips and salsa, waiting for more of the crew to arrive.
About an hour later Ski The East athlete Luc Brown a Sugarloaf local showed up with his buddy Andy. Luc and Andy immediately got down to jamming on their guitars, as they jammed everyones hunger grew. Cam and I went down to the local grocery store snagging communal dinner and breakfast supplies for the weekend. One overflowing cart and roughly $300 later (sorry Geoff and Rooster) we ripped back to the condo to begin cheffing up dinner. While we were away two more cars packed with friends had arrived. One car was Charlie Dayton and Tim DuBois who made the drive from Burlington after completing their academic obligations. The other car was filmers Pete Vander Wilden aka PV and Sam Rogers and HG Skis lord Connor Gaeta. As we started to chef up dinner the talk between the two cars that had just arrived was moose. They each saw eight moose on their drive up, I knew Maine was known for Moose but eight damn! All we saw on our drive up was a Wild Turkey and a Rabbit. With our hunger satisfied from our pasta dinner everyone started to casually crush cans; some partook in a few games of Ceelo, others watched videos on the TV, while Luc and Andy kept jamming on their guitars livening up the rainy situation.
Saturday morning was gloomy to say the least. The upper half of the mountain where our set up resided was socked in with cloud clover. Even with the cloud cover everyone was still eager to check out the set up in person; wondering how much or how little work needed to be done before skiing. Luckily everything we had set the pervious evening was still intact, after about two more hours of fine tuning and shaping the clouds cleared, we were ready to start filming. The session got off to a rough start with Tim taking one for the team, falling ten feet off the raised dog house into a ditch of snow. After Tim’s mishap the whole crew was defiantly humbled by the set up we had constructed. However, this did not prevent anyone from getting down on the set up; especially with a bit of coaxing from the clearing cloud cover and rising temperatures. For about two hours Charlie, Sawyer, Clayton, Luc and I hit the under cover feature I had made while we were shaping and fine turning yesterday. In-between the two up rails I added some spice; a quarter pipe redirect on the backside of the roller the led to the flat down rail and a roller just after which functioned as both a lip and landing. This allowed us to hit the most classic feature an up rail in a very unique way. I saw this feature get hit successfully five completely different ways throughout the weekend. It was quite satisfying watching people have a blast on something I took a huge gamble dedicating my whole time in the shaping and fine tuning the pervious evening.
With the mid day heating getting to us Luc, Tim, Andy, Connor and I took off for a few a laps around around Sugarloaf. I was pleasantly surprised with loafs terrain and snow offerings for April 23. Every run was accompanied by smooth snow with little to no moguls and side hits galore. I can see why Luc does not planning on leaving Sugarloaf anytime soon. As the day grew longer less and less people had the juice to keep hiking the set up; the cameras were put away and our crew cursing the mountain doubled. After a few crew laps everyone skied back to the set up pitching in fine tune and reshape, to save us set up time Sunday morning. Toward the end of the day Luc dropped a hammer on us, he brought his parents grill to condo. With the bluebird skies and warm weather everyone was amped up to grill. After the hill we ripped to Stratton, Maine in search of cheap grilling supplies and a wider section of beer. It was a mad dash to make it back to condo to be the first on Luc’s grill, taking two hours for the last group to toss their supplies on the grill. After dinner the majority of the crew was deep in a food coma and scurried off to bed. A few of managed to stay up to check out the footage from the day’s skiing.
Sunday morning was pretty slow, on top of having to whip up breakfast we had to clean the condo before checking out. Luckily for us the temperatures Saturday evening dipped below freezing, turning the slush into solid ice. By the time we made it to the hill everything had just began to start softening up, it wouldn’t be until 11:30am when the set up was fully ready to be skied again. While the snow was softening up we added some transition to the pit Tim had fallen into the previous day. It was safe to say the elevated dog house to steep transition was the feature of the morning. As the day grew longer Zach Masi started gaping from the up box to the flat tube on top of the embankment. This was gap was defiantly one of the most savage things I have seen go down in person. Zach just kept on sessioning the gap, solo as the rest of the crew watched. After three “warm up” hits Zach dropped a blind three swap from the elevated dog house to the tube, the crew went buck with excitement. However, Zach wasn’t finished yet he wanted to clean up his landing. Hiking up again, Zach dropped in, cranked the blind three swap, laced up a continuing 270 off the tube and casually cruised away. The timing was perfect half the crew was right above the set up riding the lift, the other half was posted up on the side of the trail, everyone completely lost it. We all knew nothing was going to top watch Zach had dropped, continuing to session the elevated dog house to transition and tube on top of the embankment separately.
By 3:00pm everyone was completely shot from the pervious two days of skiing, Cam made the call the shoot was over. We loaded up camera bags, picked up trash, took down Ski The East branding and had a group cruise down to the parking lot. For many of us this was the last run we would be taking until next fall; even though everyone was loaded up with gear that didn’t stop anyone from getting their last side hits and carves in for the season. This weekend at Sugarloaf was a memorable weekend no doubt. It is so rare that a group of 15 friends are able to find time in their busy schedules to get together for a shoot in late April on the east coast during one of the worst seasons to date.
Our Honda Element aka The Ele has been in the family since 2003. In summer 2010 when I got my license my dad passed The Ele on to me, for its reliability and how practical it would be for traveling around. Making countless trips around the east coast, and two cross country drives to Mt. Hood the miles on the odometer have been steadily racking up. Ever since I got back from my first cross country trip to Oregon, I have been claiming the Ele would “easily make it to 200,000”. As I was driving back from Sugarbush I realized 200,000 miles was quickly approaching. To ring in the 200,000 I needed to take the Ele on an adventure.
With predicted low temperatures dipping to almost -10 F in the mountains of Vermont during the day and no snow in the streets of Burlington; I decided to vacate Vermont. After decrusting from our buddies 22nd birthday on Friday night, I headed to north to Quebec City with Zach and Alex Harrington Saturday morning. We casually made it through the border; making our first stop at the nearest Tim Horton’s for some Iced Capps and snacks. Two and a half hours later we arrived at Cam and Liam’s Air B&B, hoping they would have survived the Red Bull ReDirect Afterparty. They didn’t, it was 1:30pm the house was locked up with both Cam and Liam inside still KOed from the after party.
To kill some time while they slept off a rough night we drove around Quebec City, gathering supplies for the trip picking up a shovel, water, and of course more Tim Hortons. We made contact with Cam and Liam at 3:30pm as they arose from the crypt, while we were at Tim Hortons using wifi, and refueling on doughnuts and Iced Capps. Zipping across the city we arrived at the Air B&B, after a half hour of reminiscing about the previous nights festivities, Magnus and Lucas from The Bunch pulled through with hopes of hitting a spot. The sun was setting and we had no lights for our cameras we decided scrap the idea, instead whipping up a big dinner. Once we finished cleaning up the crew split; Cam, Alex, Zach, Magnus and Lucas didn’t get enough partying the previous night heading back downtown for seconds. Liam and I had more than enough, we stayed back at the house and watched a few Vice documentaries.
After breakfast the next morning Liam, Zach, Alex and I loaded in the Ele to go see what Quebec City had to offer. Liam was our guide for the day, already spending quite a bit of time in Quebec City this year with HG Skis filming for their new movie. The first spot we went to was a waterfall the middle of the city, unfortunatley there was a “Replica Ice Fishing Hut” directly next to the ride out area. As we were walking up, manger of the Ice Fishing Hut accused us being too loud to be near the Ice Fishing Hut and kicked us out of the waterfall. We loaded back into The Ele and zipped to Artillery Park. Artillery Park was built in the 17th as a defense mechanism for Quebec City. With a variety of cobble stone features we easily spent 3 hours roaming around skiing the park.
With our cravings for Iced Capps and wifi growing we left Artillery and headed back to Tim Hortons. We made contact with Cam, he finished editing the Red Bull ReDirect highlight video, Magnus and Lucas were also accounted for after another long night on the town. All of us decided to link up at some school near the Tim Hortons for an evening session. By the time we all linked up at the school the sun was quickly setting, temperatures were dropping, and the wind was picking up. We skied a pick-nick table to bench combo for an hour or so; Liam tired to film iPhone clip and got some mild frost bite. After everyone was throughly frozen we cruised back in the AirBnB to change for dinner.
Leaving the Ele back at the AirBnB we all crammed in to Cam’s car and cruised to Pub L’oncle Antoine. Liam had been fiending to check out Pub L’oncle Antoine since he saw it the previous week walking through the Ville de Québec; a historic area converted into a shopping area in the heart of Old Quebec City. After a bone chilling 10 minute walk from the car to Pub L’oncle Antoine we were welcomed in by a roaring fire. Besides the fire the interior like something I had never seen before, the walls, ceilings and archways were all constructed from cobble stone giving the space a medieval feel.
The food was average pub fair, but the beer selection was massive featuring craft beers from all over Quebec and the rest of the world. I am far from a beer aficionado but their house shandy caught my eye, called Fonce et Lumiere. The Fonce et Lumiere was like no other shady I have ever tried; tasting flavors of coffee and chocolate I was hooked. After a few more drinks we went back to the AirBnB for to get some sleep before our last day in Quebec City.
The next morning I was woken up at 7:30am by Liam talking AirBnB owner about how many of us were staying in his house. He was not particularly pleased to find out there were five of us in his one bedroom condominium and added an extra $150 on the price for over occupancy. Sorry Cam, we will make it up to you. After that hang up Zach, Alex and I packed all of our luggage into The Ele, heading back to fountain we got kicked out of the previous day. When we arrived Replica Ice Fishing Exhibit from the pervious day was already disassembled and being loaded into a truck. We skied the waterfall for three hours, then headed to look for a place to snag some early dinner before driving back to Burlington. After ten minutes of walking around we found La Pizzaio a gourmet pizza shop. The pizza at La Pizzaio was something I’ve never experienced before, a flat bread with perfectly burnt cheese lined the perimeter replaced the delicious crust flat bread pizza lacks.
With a boost of energy from La Pizzaio we got from the pizza embarked on our drive back to Burlington. We made two stops, one at a Tim Hortons for last Iced Capp and to top off the Ele’s gas tank. The first bit of the drive was pretty rough, with both Alex and Zach working on engineering homework, I just drove in silence listening to Sirius XM Fly. After cruising for about three hours it happened, I glanced down at the odometer The Ele was about to break 200,000 miles. The past six years of claiming was about to come to a reality, the Ele hit 200,000 miles and we kept on cruising with no problems. We arrived at the border, made it through with ease an hour later we arrived back Burlington. Going on these adventures with The Ele is so nostalgic, reminding me its not hard to find adventure. Pick a place, do some research, get it your car and go, it’s that simple.
Below is the edit that Alex chopped up on our three and a half hour drive back to Burlington.
The current state of freestyle skiing is traveling back in time. Not trick wise, but rather in mind set. Freestyle Skiing also referred as “freeskiing”; when freeskiing first became a thing it was due to mogul skiers wanting to desert the competition scene due to heavy regulations to start skiing for themselves. With Freestyle Skiing securing it’s place in the Winter Olympics in two divisions Slopestyle and Halfpipe, the most publicized aspect of the sport is under heavy regulation from the FIS. Oh you don’t think regulation is heavy think again. The FIS online library features fifteen documents of regulations for Ski Halfpipe and Slopestyle alone, it is safe to say our sport a slipped back into the clutches of regulation. With the publicity of the Winter Olympics behind Freestyle Skiing, the mindset of regulated freeskiing is becoming the norm.
Businesses in the ski world are starting to take freeskiing very seriously. Ski academies such as Carrabrasset Valley Academy (CVA) and Killington Mountain School (KMS) are now offering Freestyle Skiing programs, attempting to groom their skiers to be X-Games and Olympic caliber. With freeskiing being taken so seriously, many people are starting to loose sight of why we left the mogul field, to have fun with your friends and skiing for ourselves.
However, all hope is not lost because we have people like Andy Parry, Andy is the coordinator behind the Tell A Friend Tour. For the past four years Andy heads back east from Utah for the holidays in the iconic Line Traveling Circus Van.
After the holidays and New Years have passed, Andy gets back in the van and begins Tell A Friend Tour. The mission of Tell A Friend Tour is; to show young skiers on the East Coast and Midwest what freeskiing is truly about, having a good time with your friends.
I was lucky enough to get to cruise along with Andy and the rest of the Tell A Friend Tour crew for the first two legs of the tour. The program of Tell A Friend is something very similar a skateboard team demo tour. Andy and his crew arrive at mountain, ski around for a few hours, run after run more and more skiers notice the Andy and the rest Tell A Friend crew and by 11am we would have a posse of twenty plus skiers of all ages. Once the posse is in full force Andy picks feature for the whole posse to session together until it is time for the highlight of the stop, free pizza.
Two stops that really stand out in my mind were Bolton Valley and Cannon Mountain. When we first rolled up to Bolton the park was not in the usual spot at the base of the mountain, my concerns grew thinking to myself “I wonder if they forgot about us? Bolton opened two days ago do they even have enough snow to build a park?”. Luckily Bolton did not for get about us; their park crew relocated park to very gradual and secluded trail mid mountain. The location change was a great move, the pitch of the trail was steep enough do give speed to hit all the features; yet it didn’t feel like you were summiting Mount Everest every time you hiked back up to the top of the park. A small yet unique selection features kept everyone entrained for the whole day, the lift cable feature was definitely the highlight of the day. The pizza at the end of the day was by far best and most plentiful of my two-leg journey with Tell A Friend Tour.
On January 9th Charlie Dayton and I left Burlington at 7am, headed for Cannon Mountain. Neither of us had ever been to Cannon, luckily a few of our friends had grown up skiing there. After asking our friends what they thought about Cannon our hopes were very low on what Cannon had to offer. Until we took our first chair ride up everything changed; looming in the distance was their early season terrain park. The terrain park was small about the size of a footfall field, and was loaded with rails, bonks and hips giving it that unmistakable skatepark vibe. Once the kids started showing up, they kept on coming. By 11am the park was filled with sea of at least 40 skiers from all over New Hampshire and Maine. With a unique selection of features and large group skiers they day flew by. At the end of the day while eating pizza in the lodge, I could tell by the smiles on everyone’s faces the day could not have gone much better.
Events like Tell A Friend Tour need to continue to be happening in the freeskiing world. A win-win for all four parties involved: attendees (young skiers), riders, mountains and especially sponsoring brands. The young skiers get to ski with and meet their internet hero’s, something very unattainable for young skiers living on the east coast due to lack of major events such as Winter Dew Tour and Winter X Games. The young skiers are also shown by the Tell A Friend Tour crew that you do not need to be out at Breckenridge or Park City to enjoy and progress the sport. The riders on tour get to spend their time doing what they love, having fun skiing and traveling all around the world with their friends. Mountains receive earned media in the form of photos,videos and write ups shared from Tell A Friend Tour; and it’s affiliates riders on social media and freeskiing news outlet Newschoolers. However, the greatest benefit from Tell A Friend Tour goes to the sponsoring brands, because they are getting direct exposure to their target market. Sponsoring companies help fund the tour budget and/or giving product in-kind for prizes, in return for direct exposure. Everyone wins, with such a symbiotic relationship for all parties involved the Tell A Friend Tour cannot fail, unless of course the Traveling Circus Van breaks down again.