Ride With Respect
Iwas dismayed when I saw the opening photo for the Summer Ski Towns section (May/June 1999) of a mountain biker riding through wildflowers where there does not appear to be an established trail. Damage to these meadows can last decades, and if someone sees a trail starting, others may follow, increasing the damage. I think mountain biking is a great way to enjoy the mountains year-round, but please respect these fragile ecosystems.
Cedar Crest, N.M.
Ed. Note: Though the camera angle hides the path, Dave Swanwick is in fact riding down Trail 409 in Crested Butte, Colo., about 2 miles southeast of town.
Minding Your Melon
As a ski instructor at Snoqualmie Pass, Wash., I'm concerned about skier safety¿but don't recommend wearing helmets. Skiers rely on peripheral vision to spot other skiers traversing the hill. Helmets block peripheral sight and therefore cause many accidents. Skiers need to be aware of their surroundings at all times to avoid hazards. Helmets restrict vision and decrease reaction time. Not only do they give people a false sense of security, but they're expensive and might make a difference in how many people are able to afford participating in the sport.
Gig Harbor, Wash.
Ed. Note: Whether or not to wear a helmet is a hot topic of debate among skiers. For a look at both sides of the issue, turn to Ski Life Forum on page 46.
Give Me More Skiing
I was disappointed that the Mountain Summer issue (May/June 1999) contained very few articles about skiing. Most skiers are interested in skiing¿not golfing, fly-fishing, rafting or sailing.
Our National Forests
In "The Hidden Ski Tax" (May/June 1999), author John Fry made a common error in his analysis of the federal land situation by equating the National Forest Service with the National Park Service. For starters, the Forest Service is part of the Department of Agriculture and the Park Service is part of the Department of the Interior. So why fuss about the difference between the two? The purpose of the national forests is to provide consistent water flows and a continuous supply of timber to U.S. citizens. It just so happens that many of our national forests lie within some of the best ski country in the Lower 48. Realizing the potential for development of these mountains, Congress approved a process for the permitting of ski areas. Along with the lease of the land to private developers comes a fee to promote conservation. Naturally, this fee is passed along to us, the skiers. If the purpose of the forest service was recreation, then a fee system should be in place. However the purpose of national forests is to provide water and timber. It's an added bonus that we get to play in these lands.
As an avid SKI reader, I thoroughly enjoyed "The Hidden Ski Tax" and believe everyone should be aware of all the costs that are affecting the consumer. I also appreciated author Robert Frohlich's Last Run article (March- April 1999), in which I was featured. His analogy of me being a Trump or Kissinger is a large exaggeration, but a nice compliment.
Coral Gables, Fla.
While well-intentioned, I found the following information in "The Hidden Ski Tax" misleading: "...the aim has been to manage the forests sustainably, so that trees, for example, are regenerated for future harvesting." Without harvesting or fire, there is no regeneration of the forests. Clearcutting is a more manageable alternative, and as the pine beetles return to Colorado's Summit and Eagle counties, I bet many people would prefer clearcutting.
Ed. Note: While author Fry said he agrees that some clearcutting can work for better tree regeneration, it's a foolish praactice in regions of the national forests where tourism is a far richer economic resource than logging.
I really enjoyed Edie Thys' columns (Racer eX) this year. Her comments have been right on. The article about a reunion of ski racing friends brought back many pleasant thoughts of recreational racing with the Oklahoma City Ski Club. I'll never forget the good times while racing in Colorado against other clubs from the Flatlands Ski Association.
Olympics Limp On TV
It's less than comforting to know we're paying for all the financial pork barreling in higher costs for sponsoring products, the cost of which is inflated by the greedy maneuvering outlined in the article, "Olympicgate: Why It Happened" (March/April 1999). What I find more annoying is the decline of quality TV coverage of the Games, along with the constant interruptions for advertising. Watching today's highly commercialized Olympics has become about as pleasant as having teeth pulled.
Walter J. Scott
Southwest Harbor, Maine
A Taste of Heaven
I found the article "Great Drives" (May/June 1999) especially interesting, but the Village Circuit drive was missing one crucial stop in its 97-mile loop around scenic Vermont. On Rte. 4, between Killington and Woodstock, drivers paying close attention will notice a sign for "Blanche and Bill's Country Breakfast." Not your ordinary breakfast stop¿no Eggs Benedict or breakfast burritos here¿Blanche and Bill Toth offer the best pancakes, waffles and French toast, all available with or without blueberry topping. Having grown up in the East and now residing in Colorado, never does a conversation about Vermont go by without my mentioning this haven for morning delicacies.