Besides the exertion of the activity itself, there are sports that hardly require any effort. Runners, for instance, need only lace up their sneakers, throw on lightweight clothes, turn on their iPods, and put one foot in front of the other.
Skiing is at the other end of the spectrum. Avid skiers would probably never complain, but loading your equipment, driving up a mountain and bundling up your body qualifies as a sport.
If you’re going to make this much effort just to recreate for a few hours, you might as well turn your ski outings into full-blown experiences. Make a day of it by adding activities before and after your time on the slopes.
The necessary provisions
On the way to the mountain, gather your supplies at some key stops around Spokane.
The Chocolate Apothecary, in the Flour Mill at 621 W. Mallon Ave., sells what are called “drinking chocolates” to go. Don’t even think about comparing these to packets of powdered hot cocoa. Drinking chocolates are a mix of real cocoa solids and cocoa butter that you whisk with milk over a burner or in a microwave.
They come in a variety of flavors, including Spicy Maya, a cayenne, cinnamon and dark chocolate concoction. “It’s not spicy like a five-star Thai dish,” says chocolate prescriptionist Kristy White. “It warms you up as it goes.” Sounds like just what the doctor ordered after a day in the cold.
A bookstore is another important stop to make before hitting the slopes. When you’re not zipping down the slopes, you can take a break in the lodge and warm up next to the lodge fire.
Jasmine Davey, a manager at Auntie’s Bookstore, says the staff recommends several reads this winter:
-Local outdoor humor writer Patrick McManus’ Sheriff Bo Tully series, which includes “Avalanche,” “The Blight Way” and “The Double-Jack Murders”
-“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” by Stieg Larsson, a thriller set near Stockholm, Sweden, has been on Auntie’s best-sellers list for a while
-“Ice Trap,” by Kitty Sewell, a thriller set in the sub-Arctic wilderness of Canada
-If you like fiction, “Dark Summit: The True Story of Everest’s Most Controversial Season,” is by former Pacific Northwest Inlander writer Nick Heil
Auntie’s Bookstore is at 402 W. Main Ave, in downtown Spokane.
For a bookshop that’s closer to Mt. Spokane, stop by Hastings at 1704 W. Wellesley Ave., Barnes & Noble at 4750 N. Division in NorthTown Mall or Borders at 9980 N. Newport Highway.
Another pit stop worth making is to Two Sisters Boutique, on the SuperSuri Alpaca farm at Green Bluff, to buy hats, scarves, sweaters, coats and other garments made from super-soft alpaca yarn.
Nancy Walker, who owns the shop and farm with her husband, Dr. Dick Walker, says alpaca garments are good for skiing because they’re breathable, insulating, dry twice as quickly as wool does and they’re warm.
“(It’s) second only to polar-bear fleece in warmth,” she says. Clothing made from alpaca can be light and lacy since the fiber is soft and drapes well. Alpaca is also durable, and often used for outerwear.
The Walkers have 100 alpaca on their farm, and they sell the yarn produced there at a wholesale level. The boutique doesn’t carry garments made from the Walkers’ alpacas, though, since the couple couldn’t find a U.S. clothing factory to produce them. Instead, the Walkers import Fair Trade alpaca garments from Peru and Bolivia.
To find Two Sisters Boutique from Interstate 90, head north on Argonne in Spokane Valley for about 15 minutes. Go through the roundabout to the T-intersection at Day Mt. Spokane Road. Turn right and travel east 0.7 miles. The farm will be on your left.
The boutique is open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., but Nancy says she’s happy to open up at other times. Call (509) 475-5110.
After the Slopes
Save some energy for the after-skiing scene. Your scenery of choice likely depends on whom you have for company, though. If skiing is a family affair, swing by Walters’ Fruit Ranch at Green Bluff for dinner, warm homemade pie and a visit with Santa Claus, who spends his weekends there leading up to Christmas. Walters’ is at 9807 E. Day Road, Green Bluff.
If you’d rather dine at home but don’t want to cook, grab some Italian (made by a real Italian) gourmet-to-go at the Barn at Trezzi Farm, 17700 N. Dunn Road, Green Bluff.
Another popular place to eat as you make your way down the mountain is Bear Creek Lodge, which sits a quarter mile from Mount Spokane’s entrance.
“If you’re doing anything on the mountain, you’re going to be passing us,” says Sam Deal, who owns the lodge with his wife, Karen. “The lodge is a great place to peel off the layers and get warm again.”
Sam says that from about noon until 9 p.m., Bear Creek Lodge is hopping with snowmobilers, skiers, snowshoers and even tubers, who use a sledding area on the Deals’ property.
Customers can enjoy a glass of wine, play checkers next to one of two fireplaces, eat a hearty dinner in the restaurant or drink beer and play pool in the tavern.
Or if don’t want to stop until you’re in town, stop by Twigs Bistro & Martini Bar in Riverpark Square and other Spokane locations for a cocktail, snack or warm winter drink.
Trevor Blackwell, director of operations for the restaurant chain, says “Twigs Coffee”—a mix of brandy, Kahlúa, crème de cocoa and coffee topped with whipped cream—is popular during winter. Another hot drink for cold days is Mint Chocolate, which combines Bailey’s Mint Chocolate Irish Cream, crème de menthe and hot chocolate and is also topped whipped cream.
After burning hundreds of calories on the slopes, who doesn’t deserve dessert?
“Our sticky cookie is the most popular,” Blackwell says. “It’s a chocolate chip cookie that comes out of our pizza oven and is placed on top of vanilla-bean ice cream.”
Twigs’ north side restaurant moved to 401 E. Farwell in the Wandermere Business Park in 2008. Its old location at 9820 N. Nevada St., now houses Stix Bar & Grill. Stix is owned by the Twigs parent company and is more casual than its sister eateries—just in case a day on the mountain has left you with hat hair.
Mike Aho from Spokane Parks and Recreation has some other suggestions to round out your day on local slopes. These include a wine tasting at Townsend Winery or Arbor Crest; stopping for appetizers at Harvest House just off the highway; grabbing a cup of coffee at one of several Rocket Bakery locations; browsing for antiques in the Hillyard area; do some lowland hiking at Bowl and Pitcher Riverside State Park or Indian Painted Rock; bike; or just stop for donuts at Donut Parade on Hamilton or Donuts To Go on Division.
Whether you treat yourself to a good book or cap off your day with a cocktail, indulge a bit on a ski day. You worked hard and deserve it.