www.mybaycity.com March 9, 2008
Outdoors Article 2426

Winter...Any Enjoyment Left?

Spring Skiing is at its Best

March 9, 2008
By: Kevin Leahy

How could anyone park their ski's on such a glorious day?
(MyBayCity Photo by Kevin Leahy)

If you (like me) have had enough of this winter, I think everyone would understand.

On the flip side all this snow has been a boon to Ski Resorts and snowmobilers who haven't had the opportunity to utilize their equipment like this in many years.

Although spring is dead ahead and probably circled on everyone's calendar, don't let Old Man Winter off so easily.

Due to the arctic flow we have experienced this season there is still a lot of snow up north.

After noticing the weather forecast for this past week-end, I took this past sun-filled Saturday opportunity and grabbed Old Man Winter by the icicle and decided to point the car wheels north.

On your way up north, you will you cross the 45th parallel?
(MyBayCity Photo by Kevin Leahy)

Hearing many fine reports of the improvements at Nubs Nob, I decided to pack up my Soloman boots and K-2's and go push some snow around before it was too late.

It's a long drive but well worth the trip when you finally see this sign.
(MyBayCity Photo by Kevin Leahy)

It was supposed to be darn cold...again, but up in northwest Michigan the sun was shining.

The view of Boyne Highlands from the lift confirms your in God's Country.
(MyBayCity Photo by Kevin Leahy)

This is while the evening news carried reports of the "worst storm," to hit Ohio in years dumping over 18 inches in some areas. It was declared a code three in some Ohio counties which meant those poor Buckeyes could get a ticket just for being out on the roads.

Not here in NW Michigan, sunshine and blue skies, albeit 18 degrees. So what! The sky hasn't looked this blue in months, and I was finally going skiing for the first time this season.

The long shadows of spring highlighted this mogul run.
(MyBayCity Photo by Kevin Leahy)

"This season," is usually over by early March, but not this year, thank goodness. Wait a second am I starting to enjoy this long cold winter?

Maybe I should have taken this trip a couple months ago in order to appreciate what Mother Nature has blessed us with this season.

My excitement peaked and slightly morphed into a bit of nervousness as I was pulling into Nubs parking lot looking towards the peaks.

The nerves are a flashback from the last time I went out West to ski with my accomplished backcountry mountain skiing brother who guided me off some shoots I had no business attempting. And I ended up buried at the base of a snow ghost looking for his ski I was allowed to try because it was so easy to ski with. It obviously wasn't.

But this was Michigan and I can see the top of the hill without poking my head out the window. My excitement returned.

The parking lot was only half full which is always nice at the lifts. And it was. Doesn't anyone know there still enjoying great conditions up north?

The view from above the Terrain park was truly exhilarating
(MyBayCity Photo by Kevin Leahy)

After being put off as a unknown website journalist trying to get a free lift ticket for a story from general manager Jim Bartlett, I went and purchased my half day $46.00 lift ticket. Full day until 4:30PM is $53.00 but it was already 12:30PM and I don't have "ski" conditioned legs anyway.

I packed my camera, phone, powerbar and my somewhat meaningless media pass. I figured if I got around to interviewing anyone maybe they would appreciate a picture media badge around my neck.

I clicked my boots in and started skating towards the first lift. Man it felt good and it seemed like I haven't been off my ski's for over two years now. It must be like riding a bike...just a whole lot faster at times.

I thought a "Who you meet on a lift," storyline would work. My first ride up was with a teenager from Grand Rapids who "Just got back from the French Alps," ...too cool, and why was he skiing here anyway?

The conditions were glorious, a bit of wind in your face on the way up but Nubs has a "back side," to the south without any wind, from what the kid said.

It must have been twenty five years ago my out-West brother took me here in his old Buick with a great stereo to go skiing so it may have well been my first time.

I ventured over to the trail map sign and started scanning for black diamond runs, I was feeling pretty confident.

That's right when three guys jumped in between and wanted to find the "Glades Runs," meaning the ones through the tree's. It seemed like a good photo-op but I realized I didn't have my notebook or a pen. "You won't forget my name, its Tom Coffee," said the one in the middle, and he was right, I never did get his friends names.

Tom Coffee (center) and his friends got caught looking for that perfect run
(MyBayCity Photo by Kevin Leahy)

I followed them to the glades where upon realizing Michigan glades are hard wood tree's separated by little room for maneuvering and mogul like bumps at every turn, I turned towards the open hill and meandered back to the lift on a blue square (intermediate) run that seemed dull.

Next time up I went back to the trail map sign and found some exciting black diamond runs that got my heart pounding but the quickness of how I was back at the lift surprised me.

Fortunately there were no lift lines due to Nubs being spread across 44 runs on two sides of their mountain. I enjoyed many more exhilarating runs until I became bored with the repetition then I noticed to the east was their "Terrain Park."

From the distance and heights of the lift it seemed like a huge ditch running down the hill with a massive jump at the bottom. I had to ski over four intermediate runs to get there but I arrived quickly and took the short chair lift to the "new," rope tow to the top of the Terrain Park.

I haven't skied in Michigan in a long time and this rope tow was made of steel cable and it had body hooks.

I maneuvered into place and waited for the hook that nearly knocked me down before I reached ahead of me and pulled myself back up to it and settled it behind my upper back.

It seemed much easier than the old Apple Mountain rope tows that tore your gloves to shreds.

The Terrain Park was Awesome, just like you see on TV with huge walls on each side where kids were flying off and attempting aerials.

The grown up version of the "Half Pipe," is more intimidating than it appears.
(MyBayCity Photo by Kevin Leahy)

It looked easy.

I took the obligatory pictures and packed and tightened everything to go do my own flying...yeah right.

What kids make look easy isn't.

I dropped into the shoot and raced towards the other side going halfway up before realizing I was at 90 degrees already and quickly turned back down to attack the other side. Gaining more speed I was ready for some air...until it seemed I was going to flip backwards and I again pulled off and shot towards the other wall.

I never did get to the top of the shoot nor fly off it like so many others were, maybe next time I come I thought as I skied back towards normalcy.

That's when I noticed the other "Terrain Park," with ramps, slides and curves all through the hill with kids sliding and jumping off of them like water on a ducks back.

The kids "Terrain Park" resembles a skateboarders dream of drops, rails, and ramps.
(MyBayCity Photo by Kevin Leahy)

It looked fun but I'm old school I haven't even tried snowboarding, and I like SKIING down a mountain... although I did slide into their slalom gates a couple times before I was asked to get off their course.

It looks as though skiing has progressed to the X gamers and it's now mainstream to have Terrain Parks, Skateboard Park looking things and huge jumps for that class, I was just glad I finally made my way up north and got my ski legs back.

I can't wait to go again, I hope it snows! What?

The conditions were ideal as one of the Telemark skiers carves his signature into the mountain
(MyBayCity Photo by Kevin Leahy)

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