Editor's note: This may be the Best Post Ever and I didn't write it. Still finding the Internet a bit of a boggle, Jonny Jay asked for my assistance in posting this trip report. Once I picked myself up off the floor after falling off the chair laughing, I decided that it must go up immediately, especially now that our new friends over at The Snowway have posted about skiing at MRG and not Jay. This post will explain why The Snowway made a good decision. It also makes me think I should review my series of emails to Bill Stenger from some years back and see what progress he has made. On a side note, there are some trail and lift names mentioned that do not appear on the trail map. The dedicated Jay Peak skiier should have no difficulty figuring out what they refer to. SBR
Jonny Jay's new helmet is ready to go...
Here is the true state of Jay Peak this weekend, as seen through the eyes of Jonny Jay himself:
The adventures of SBR and Telemark Dave and their thigh-deep skiing is the perfect backdrop to Jonny Jay’s first trip to our mountain this year. After all the buzz about the big storm last week and checking the Jay web site I was pretty stoked about getting out the boards and trying a few turns on Saturday, since my dahlin' companion was off to the homeland. Even Pudd was thinking of taking the 8-hour trip after reading “Weather from the Hill,” who was projecting close to 2 feet of snow if all the stars were in alignment!
I decided to get an early start so was out of the JJ clubhouse by 8:20 (that’s early for this time of year), as I had to get my new pass on the other side. Reality started to sink in on my way up the Mountain Road as the snow banks looked a little washed out and the snow in the Dip was looking a little sparse to say the least. So I wheel in to the Tramside Parking and see the new Ice Rink is really taking shape – and the multi-level parking garage beside it! Multi-level parking garage you say? In the middle of nowhere? Ah but maybe that’s where they are going to put the new bathrooms for all these new skiers, skaters and ice dancers who will use the new parking (note to self: Hang out in garage on windy snowy day just to see the chaos). Of course the new wave pool might be a bathroom alternative, but I digress.
The new washroom facility at Jay Peak?
All went well, picked up some new cool Jay posters and had my picture taken with my back to the sunny window so I look like Darth Vader (wait till Bill sees those pics – anyone could pass for me if they put on my infamous jacket cause that’s about all you can see in the photo – it’s Jay Peak after all and why we love it so). Off I go inside to boot up and all is well, with lots of familiar faces doing the right of passage that a new season always demands. Since I am alone (and field testing a new helmet) I wonder if the Tram is running as I didn’t recall a lineup in my excitement to get going. Anyway, feeling invincible with my new helmet, off I go. But the Tram is not running and neither is the Flyer, so the Snail Chair is the ticket. 20 runs open they say – I start counting as I am going up the Snail and I am at about 15 runs when you include Upper and Lower Snail, Chalet Meadows, Perry Merrill and Upper, Lower and Middle Fiddle Faddle. That still leaves the Jet, Haynes, Montrealer and maybe even Timbuktu or the Derrick or, if I really want to test out the helmet – the KITZ.
As I negotiate the Perry Merrill over to Stateside I have some time to think about the lack of cars in the parking lot and how fortunate I might be. The adrenaline kicks in and I decide to tuck it so I don’t have to hike over the ditch to the Jet. Of course the Red Chair is not “turning” as they now say at Jay Peak and up ahead is someone starting to hike up – guess he didn’t want to buy a ticket. Whoa! Sign ahead – Jet Chair Closed – Whaa!!!!
A sign of the times
I see a patroller going in the hut so I ask about the chair’s status: “Well it was out of order yesterday but today it is closed because it is really windy up there”. "Windy?" says I, loving it when the wind dumps all the snow at the left edge of the Jet, “Yes,” she says, “about 55mph gusts.” She sees the look on my face even with the new helmet. “Well it’s Jay Peak,” she adds with a bit of a knowing glance. Maybe the new Jay Peak, says I inside my helmet, but the old Jay would have had the lift “turning” if even at such an unbearably slow speed that would make you wonder why it was open. So there I was watching my buddy hike up to get some turns – an activity that, at my age, I only reserve for those days when there really is 2 feet of snow. Realizing my shortcomings, over to the Moose T bar (no Moose there but maybe he hasn’t come out of hibernation yet) and back to the Snail. On the trip up my two chair companions were saying how all this construction was good for the local economy and would bring lots of new people to the mountain. Foreign money they say. From Dubai – my mind wandered to the parallels between what is happening in Dubai right now and whether Jay needs a waterpark to survive but I also realize that it must change with the times. Ever the pragmatist, I ask, “But where are all these new visitors going to crap?” Well I then learn that another $100 million or so will solve that and that next year the old Stateside Lodge will be replaced and will probably have new bathrooms. Again the cynic in me remembers staring at the “27 Hole Golf Course Coming Soon” sign that hung in the stairway for about 27 years it seems – but it did come eventually in all its magnificence. I also wonder what happened to the skiing/riding part of the investment as in the planned terrain expansion . . . Anyway I agree that the investment is good news except I know we will all be nostalgic about that funny little place where you can bang your heads on the heater and sit at homey picnic tables – that’s my Jay Peak. And that’s the Jay Peak that Throckmorton and his sidekick Gollum will be telling their children about years from now.
Anyway, this time off the Snail I decide to live dangerously and do the right side of the lift over to Deer Run etc. Whoa again! Another sign – “Thin Cover” it says! I decide to take the bull by the horns – after all it probably will be better than when the Kitz or River Kwai says thin cover – and off I go all the way past Deer Run. Snow had a manmade feel to it and had a thin crust so I decide to “give myself a challenge” and go to the sides. It was a bit tricky as I must have been off-balance on the left side due to my surgery last summer (can’t think of any other reason) but I held it together. After one more uneventful run I decided the legs had a big enough workout so I better pack it in.
Then I played tourist. The new hotel is looking very good and blends in much better than expected. I checked out the new rental shop (in the lower stone section of the new hotel near the tram building) and it is very spiffy, with automatic sliding doors for those returning skis – no more Warren Miller moments of a beginner with an armful of skis and poles trying to open the door. On my way home I checked into Stateside to put the lock on my locker and check things out. Well this summer they had repainted the lockers but had forgotten to open the doors to let them dry – doors were painted shut and I it took me five minutes to get mine open, with a few tourists looking on like I was “completely mad.” Ah that’s what I love about Jay – it’s quirky, it’s still old school despite the new façade and it’s ours! Oh and you can’t beat the skiing on a good day, rainy day or any other day. And the Jay Snow Reports – they have always been there “as a guideline” only as we all know – the challenge is finding out for yourself. They did get a good dump – it just wasn’t there when I was. See ya out there soon.