01 May 2010

Ski Day 26: May Day @ Timberline

Bruce Campbell's voice rumbled from the Sorento's speakers as I pulled into a parking space in front of the patrol building in Government Camp this morning. I had forgotten all about the audiobook for "Make Love! The Bruce Campbell Way", until recently, so I'd put it on my iPhone earlier in the week, listening to chunks of it on my commute. Unsatisfied with Saturday morning radio, I'd put the audiobook on, and since I was kind of running on fumes, I'd hoped the interesting part of the story would get me going.

It kind of helped. But the temperature and precipitation weren't what I had expected when I stepped out of the SUV in Govy this morning, so right back into Do-I-Really-Have-To-Do-This mode I went. Clearly, there had been snow overnight, but it was raining. "Ah, hell. Maybe it'll be snowing at Timberline," I muttered to myself, and trudged inside.

I had been expecting maybe one other hill patroller, and had received an e-mail earlier in the week from the APC for Timberline telling me I'd basically be playing Hill Captain today. I wasn't particularly looking forward to being short-handed in the first place, since there had been a decent amount of snow during the week, and that usually means there's lots to do. I was pleasantly surprised to see one of the triple-digit-patrol-number types (AKA old-timer), grabbing the 'pouch' for Timberline - this meant we had a 'real' Hill Captain. Things were looking up.

Bruce was talking about being fired from the film he was working on, but I had to cut him off when I parked the Sorento up at Timberline. I was right about the snowing, but it didn't seem like it was cold enough that it would snow all day. I grabbed all my stuff and headed in to boot up and get ready for the day.

One of the A-team apprentices was there, getting a shadow day in (shame on you, D-team - where were you guys?), so at least we had one more guy for sweep and another sled-qualified guy if things got dicey. With a limited number of lifts in operation (it is May, after all), there wasn't as much to do as there is on a typical day at Timberline. With the weather, it was looking like there wouldn't be many guests on the hill, so hopefully that'd mean few (if any) injuries. Of course, the low visibility and flat light seemed fully prepared to conspire against us in that department.

Having checked the forecast Friday, it looked like it was supposed to be between 27 and 29 up there today, so I went with my yellow wax rated for 25-32 degrees when I prepped the skis last night. When it started changing over to a kind of misting rain as we walked out to the Pucci lift, I got to wondering if I'd made a mistake. But once I got the skis on the snow, they felt good. Fast, actually. We finished our opening assignment (Pucci lift wasn't running, but the terrain was open to skiers, so we still had to dust off and adjust tower pads over there), and headed off to the very cruisable terrain over off of Floodo.

The visibility was better lower down, so we could really open 'em up and crank the big turns. The only thing that sucked was that we had to keep stopping to attend to some more opening tasks that appeared to have been left undone by whoever was opening Floodo. Good practice for the rookie anyhow. Plus, the faster we get the opening stuff done, the better. We were on the second bump shift, so we got to go turn and burn until 10:30. The mountain was fairly empty until a little before 10.

The day pretty much passed uneventfully, until the afternoon. With the early closing, we were preparing for sweep at 2:30, and naturally someone gets hurt just as we're getting prepared to sweep. Unfortunately, the liftie who called it in over the phone did a poor job of describing the location of our injured party, so it took longer to locate the person. At least it was something we could do a snowmobile transport for, and it didn't take long before our sweep was in full swing.

Aside from one person slipping past the sweepers somehow (I was standing around up top, since I was "dispatch"), the day ended without further incident. I never did feel 100% "into it" today, but I figure even a week off the hill isn't enough at this stage of the year for me to recharge. It's been a pretty busy season, particularly for a "comeback year". With nothing on my patrol plate between the banquet next Saturday night and the Nuts & Bolts clinics in June, it looks like I'll have the break I'm thinking I'll need.