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Gillian Hayden relaxed in the renovated Saddle Lodge at Gore Mountain Ski Resort last Friday, taking a late morning breather from morning runs.

The North Creek resident and SUNY Adirondack student was flanked by her dad, cousin and cousin’s boyfriend, and they were testing out the new Adirondack-themed furniture in the expanded upstairs area.

“It’s awesome,” she said of the new space and limb-wood furniture. “I love it. I bring in all my kids.”

Hayden’s kids are the eight 6-year-olds she teaches to ski at Gore.

“I’ve been with the same kids since they were 3,” she said proudly.

As of Friday, Hayden had been on skis at Gore for all three days it had been open and had over 50 days last year.

“For mid-November, I’m satisfied,” she said of the conditions, prompting dad Christian Hayden to nod his head.

Cold temperatures early that morning had conditions like mid-winter, he said.

“But when the sun comes out, it’ll be spring conditions,” he said.

And he was right.

It was a little crunchy in spots early, but with plenty of easy, soft turns to be had. And as the morning wore on, it was softening and only getting better. I wasn’t hearing any complaints.

For me, Friday marked the return to skiing for the season, making some longed-for turns with longtime friend and skiing partner Dan Stewart.

We tend not to kill ourselves opening day, usually content to get there early, bang several runs and head for a Bloody Mary and bowl of chili when everyone else starts filling up the trails.

That probably sounds old, huh?

But for Stewart, who traded in skis for a snowboard a couple decades ago, it marked his first time on skis in 15 years.

New skis. New boots — and a new feeling for him.

The boots felt foreign, he said, especially his left one that seemed to be digging into the top of his foot. But after some modifications on one gondola ride up, they felt better and within two runs he was making turns as though he’d never strapped on a snowboard.

It felt great to be back on the hill. I’m sure I’ve said it before, but I’m very content to simply be on skis, gliding down the mountain, any mountain. And the first time back each season make me thankful for the opportunity every year.

Christian Hayden, a season-pass holder, seemed equally content on Friday, getting to ski with his daughter and niece and her boyfriend. It was his first time out, too, and he spoke about how much he appreciated Gore in his backyard.

“They’re doing more and more every year. It’s encouraging,” he said.

Later opening at West

A less than cooperative Mother Nature is pushing back West Mountain’s planned opening to Dec. 16.

Owner Spencer Montgomery said snowmaking has begun, including on the vastly improved Cure trail that was going to get coated again Wednesday night. But real cold temperatures allowing all-day snowmaking have been elusive.

When we do get them — forecasters say around Dec. 7 — Montgomery said people will be surprised by how quickly trails can get open.

With another 8-inch water line from the town water system, a 10-inch, high-pressure feeder line up the mountain and new snow guns, the mountain can have five major trails open within five days.

“We’ll put snow down here like never seen before,” he said, adding that snowmaking capacity will elevate to three times what it was when he took over the mountain.

The cold snap also coincides with when the new water meter arrives to allow the new main to be operational, he said.

“And my birthday is the 8th, so maybe the stars will align,” he said.

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Dave Blow writes a weekly winter sports column for The Post-Star.


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