Back to the shop; getting the gear right for the upcoming season
The basement or garage or shed or the deep back corner of the closet—or wherever the ski gear has been housed since last April—smells faintly like the pair of wet leather gloves that have been fermenting there for six months. After the pond skim or late-season trip to Killington, you stashed your stuff away with the promise that you’d haul it out next weekend—maybe for that long-imagined road trip to Tuck’s.
But then spring intervened. There was Little League and tennis. The lawn and garden. A hundred things, and suddenly it was no longer ski season. The damp gloves sat forgotten at the bottom of the ski bag.
Now it’s October. The morning air is cold again. There’s no snow on the ground yet—some resilient leaves still hang on the branches—but the promise of a snowfall isn’t so far out of sight anymore. It’s time to unearth the gear, air out the gloves, and assess. Take inventory. Where did those goggles go? How come these pants don’t fit right anymore? And how on earth did your youngest outgrow your eldest’s hand-me-downs?
The annual trip to the ski shop is in order. Down the pike and around the corner, rows and racks and stacks of gear and apparel await.
There’s a different smell at the shop, one better than wrinkled, dank leather. It’s fresh, hot ski wax. New Gore-Tex. Polyethylene as the packaging is ripped off a ski and someone runs their fingers up and down factory-sharp edges. Soft plastic as someone else flexes their ankles during a fitting session, remembering the feeling of thick socks and snug ski boots.
The kids peer up at the tips of skis twice their height and wonder what kind of slope they could take on with something like that strapped to their feet. This is the year to conquer that trail all the older kids ride, to finally throw that big trick, or to run some gates. They roam the store and touch everything.
Forget the prepared list. Touch everything, too. Check out this jacket. And that pair of skis over there looks good. Go ahead—pick them up. Give them a flex. Oh yeah—they feel good, too. Picture those sweet, long, early-season groomer carves. There’s still a few weeks until the cats start pushing snow and the lifts start spinning, but just imagine that that first run. It’s not quite here, but it’s not so far off, either. And anyways, your gloves still need some time to dry.
This is the first of a series called Dropping In which highlights all the best milestones in kicking off a new ski season. For serious skiers and boarders in the Delaware Valley, visiting Salter’s is one of these annual rites. Check back into the blog later to see what other moments we’re looking forward to.
Joining the Salter’s crew to write Dropping In and other stories is Clare Menzel, a New Hampshirite studying philosophy in her final year at the University of Pennsylvania. As it always happens in this close and familiar northeastern ski world, Clare’s parents are family friends—way back from the old college days in New England. She is the Women’s Alpine Captain of the Penn ski team and has written for Powder Magazine and Powder’s blog.