Tag Archives: Pocono Mountains

Buck Brook #6: Perfect Ski

I have to thank my friend Jim Knosp Housley for jogging my memory. He was shocked that our first time skiing at a resort was our last time skiing with the Buck Brook students. His reaction jogged yet another memory from that winter of 1969 – 70.

The memory is a short vision of an effortless ski run. It was a vision that changed skiing for the rest of my life.

Indeed, Jim, I must have taken the students and staff on at least one more ski trip to the Pocono Mountains that winter. And I do vaguely remember finding another ski hill to check out.

The proof of both another trip and a different hill is my watching a skier from the lift. This skier was passing on our left side, opposite from where the run was on our first trip to the Poconos. Otherwise I remember the resort being similar to the first, with one lift and one run in a clearing between the trees.

The chair I was riding had passed the first pole holding up the cable when my eye was caught by a female skier making the most graceful decent of a hill I had ever seen. No effort at all. She just held her poles straight out to her sides and she did not turn. Nor was she just going straight down the hill as fast as she could. Rather she was in complete control and merely leaning. Just leaning from side to side.

As she leaned her skis naturally following the effect of her weight and tracked to the left or right.

No effort.

Just leaning from side to side and letting her skis settle in beneath her.

It was beautiful. I couldn’t take my eyes off her.

It was everything I had always wanted my skiing to be.

Not trying to control skis. Not worrying about form. Not launching into a turn.

Just leaning from side to side.

And because of that, in poetic form — legs together. Skis parallel. Perfect.

I got off the chair, pointed my skis down hill, stuck my arms out to my sides, poles dangling in the wind, forgot about turning — and have celebrated my association with motion and gravity ever since.

Buck Brook #5: Second Ski

After our successful adventures skiing a mighty five foot drop in front of the old farm house, I set to finding a local ski area so everyone could experience their first ride on a chair lift.

This was 1969, long before the internet, and I don’t really remember just how I went about finding a place to ski somewhere near the western part of the Catskill Mountains. I suppose I hunted for ads in a magazine. I know you are far too young to remember them, but magazines were kind of paper blogs.

Regardless how I found it, I did come across what sounded like a superb hill. It was across the Delaware River in the Pocono Mountains of eastern Pennsylvania. It was not a particularly large ski area, just one side of a rather short mountain, but it did have a chair lift running up the side of what looked like a fairly gentle slope. A first-time skiers paradise.

We packed into the van and headed on winding roads through the forests.

A surprise was in store.

It was a nice sunny day and the “ski resort” looked good as we drove in, a cozy lodge looking through the bare hardwood trees surrounding the groomed run.

I knew from their brochure there was only one run. Yet I was immediately struck by how small this “ski mountain” was. Perhaps a 700 foot drop. And, yep, there was an actual chair lift packing people up the left side of the open run. On the other side of the run was something I had never seen — a line of snow making guns running the full length of the run.

Between the lift and the guns was an treeless hillside some 500 feet wide.

And that was it! The entire “ski mountain”!

But it was a ski area all the same and we were all glad to be adventuring. I parked. We opened the doors. And instantly my second shock at skiing the Poconos came rattling through my brain.

Take a hill full of folks skiing. Add two metal skis to everyone on the hill. And then make the hill a dome of ice.

Not snow, which dampens the sound of skis. Especially metal skis.


The racket was astounding. Amazing. A thousand small caliber rapid fire machine guns would have been drowned out by the sputtering clanks of chattering skis echoing over the countryside.

During a break from skiing the good folks in the lodge explained the snow cannons were not run on the weekends so the skiers can enjoy the run. We were there on a weekday.

We all learned how hard it is to fall on ice. And what it is like to move through a fog of blasting ice crystals spewing from water cannon. And we never went skiing again.

On The Road #11, Hippies

Two overgrown tracks of a forgotten road lead my way north, over a ridge in the foothills of the Pocono Mountains, and into the next watershed. My pant legs and shoes were wet with dew from the grass growing in the tracks and the brush crowding out the road. The forest floor was spongy with April thaw. But the air—Ah! The air!—was clear as coastal rain and filled with the scent of awakening forest, a clean mustiness from wood and leaves beginning to decay in the warming air.

It must have taken me several hours to walk those abandoned ruts through the woods but all I remember is the coolness and quiet, the light through the woods, and the delicious air.

Just as Ann had promised, I came upon a paved road. I turned right. Before long a substantial bridge was in sight. Several hundred yards before I reached the bridge a guy on a bicycle came up behind me.

Ann had said there were some hippies l might want to run into over here and, it seemed, one had run into me. A lanky quiet guy with the long hair and patchy clothes of the tribe, he stopped his bike and we chatted a bit. He said, yea, his bunch of hippies were staying at a place just back up the road and he was headed to town for some food. He figured it would be OK for me to crash the night, but everyone else was out of town and wouldn’t be back until late. So I sat on the handlebars of his bike and  he peddled us across the Delaware River to Narrowsburg, New York.narrowburg

On the way a car passed and stopped so the lady in the passenger seat could bark at us about riding on the wrong side of the road. I barked back that it was safer facing traffic and she rebarked about the law. That was the end of it. When we were on our way again the guy peddling the bike moved to the other side of the road and quietly said he found it best to not bark when barked at. Just listen and go along. He was right, of course. Those darned hippies and their logically peaceful ways.

That evening we chatted and I painted some little esoteric image on their wall. I was looking forward to meeting everyone but got tired and rolled my sleeping bag out on the floor of one of the bedrooms. It was hard but dry.

I was nudged awake with the sound of anxious voices coming through the door and soon knew the anxiety was over me. “But I don’t think he’s like that,” the guy from the bike was saying. He was being challenged with how careful they have to be. How many people are out to get them. How easy it is to screw up.

I heard the door to my room open and someone walk in. Not being one for confrontation I maintained my most angelic appearance of slumbering innocence. The door closed.

By the next morning there were only myself and the guy from the bike in the house.

And that was my night with the Merry Pranksters.

On The Road #10, Ann & Jerry part 4

I enjoyed two delicious days at Ann and Jerry’s little cabin resort in the Pocono Mountains. Two days chatting and playing chess and doing odd jobs in the damp chill of April, 1969. Two days of enjoying Ann’s delicious (and HOT!) cooking! Two nights in a dry, soft, warm bed.

It was a heavenly break from walking the back roads of eastern Pennsylvania, but the chores of spring cleaning were done. It was time to move on.

Along with chats about pot and gays and alternate life styles, Ann and Jerry had shown an interest in my plans, such as they were. On a map I had noticed a little black line of a road through the Catskill Mountains and was generally drifting that way if nothing came up to divert me. They told me they had heard a bunch of hippies were staying just outside of Narrowsburg, New York. Narrowsburg was on the Delaware river, just across the boarder from Pennsylvania, and on my way. Ann suggested that if I wanted to run into them she knew a short cut going over the hills instead of following the river.

So, on the second day after I first ran into Ann getting her mail beside the river, they led me from their delicious breakfast table, away from the river, back past the cabin I had been sleeping in, and pointed out a set of overgrown tracks leading into the Pocono Mountains. Filled with brush and high grasses, the tracks were mostly visible by the clearing they made in the trees. My feet stepped into the wet foliage and I began a day’s walk over the ridge to the next drainage north, where I had been assured I’d run into a road leading to Narrowsburg.

There are few things more spongy and aromatic and quiet than the dewy broadleaf forests of the eastern United States in the early spring, just as the snow has melted and the grasses have greened and the woody plants are only beginning to unfurl their leaves.