Starving after a long ride up and certainly thirsting for some cold bevvies to kick start the weekend, we rolled into The Killarney, a local Irish pub that has a pretty hopping apres ski scene during the winter months at Okemo. In town for the annual Okemo media weekend we were excited to see some of our friends and get out and make our first tracks of the season with them the next day. So I texted my good buddy Greg Burke, who along with his wife Heather run Family Ski Trips, an excellent source for ski trip destination reviews. My plan that evening was to down a few pints and have some dinner at Killarney and then head over to Tom's Loft for a few more. This would allow me to get my fill and still be up for breakfast and out on the hill by no later than 9 am. Plenty of time to get at least three hours of skiing in prior to our lunch at Epic at noon. However, I should've known better. Greg and Heather are ski travelers extraordinaire, always looking to hop on that first chair and as my text conversation went on with Greg, it became clear that late night at Tom's might not be an option.
Me: Meet you at breakfast?
Me: Cool, I'm thinking we'll be there around 8.
Greg: We will be at breakfast at 7:15 and loading the chair lift at 7:45.
Me: You're an animal.
Greg: We do not expect Mr. Après Ski to make first chair but if he does, then he's an animal too.
So I ditched my night cap idea (much to the delight of my wife) and headed in a bit earlier than anticipated all so I could get some sleep, earn my animal status and make a run at a first chair, last call kind of day.
Earning My Animal Status
I rolled over the next morning glanced at the clock which already read 6:40 (extremely late for my standards) and realized that I needed to get my ass out of bed immediately to ensure that I was not left behind. I am, after all, a man of action and since I said that I would be there, there is no way that I could bail this late in the game. Pot of coffee on, I immediately began rifling through my gear bag to find the appropriate kit for the day. Then, while sucking down my first cup of coffee, I simultaneously dressed myself. Time disappeared as quickly as a sixer of PBR in a ski bum's house and 7:15 was upon me before I knew it. No worries though, I was ready to roll and headed down to a delightful breakfast spread at the Coleman Brook Tavern.
I entered the dining room at around 7:18 hoping to be the first to arrive but not surprisingly, there sat the Burkes and a few others already eating. It was really quite impressive. They clearly meant business when they said 7:15. Not lamenting over my tardiness, I grabbed my usual breakfast of coffee, eggs, sausage and bacon and headed over to join them. We caught up quickly as I shoveled this double swine breakfast into my mouth. Time was short and the lifts would be spinning soon. So I washed it all down with a large dose of liquid caffeine, just in time to run right back upstairs, shove my feet into my ski boots, grab my sticks and head out for first chair. Animal status achieved!
Making first chair was only the beginning of what might have been my most aggressive first day of skiing yet. Stopping only for about 30 minutes to head back in for another cup of coffee and a rendezvous with my wife, I mainly skied from 8 am until our noon luncheon at Epic. Thank goodness the lunch spread there was, as always, typically epic (stay tuned for a full review in another post). I needed to fill up on chicken and waffles, gourmet grilled cheese, ahi tuna sandwiches and pulled pork pho in order to recharge my engines for an equally aggressive afternoon of sliding down the mountain.
After listening to the nuances of snow making a slightly larger group of us headed out for a few more fun-filled hours. The crowds of the late morning had subsided and we lapped runs in and around the Sunburst Six. The early season snow was really good for being man made but more importantly the company was even better. With convivial (thanks for the word Heather Burke) conversation and laughs abound we rode the mountain with reckless abandon until one by one our group began to dwindle as a result of our aggressive post lunch skiing. With only four of us remaining, there was just enough of us to fill the quad for one last run. So we took our last lap down, culminating back where it all began at Jackson Gore base before officially ending the day ripping timber through the snow down Okemo's super fun mountain coaster.
For me and my wife, having definitively earned our beers it was finally on to my favorite après ski bar Tom's Loft. For others it was the hot tub and a nap prior to meeting again in a couple of hours for a delightfully delicious wine pairing dinner and a full recount of the day's amazing activities. It's times like these that I will always remember. Sure, I may have missed a few extra beers on a Friday night, but what I didn't miss was the good times being with my friends and a really fun day of playing on the mountain that Saturday. Skiing thanks to a mutually shared passion is the tie that binds and the key reason why our tribe heads back to the mountains when the snowflakes start falling each and every winter.