After a slow start, winter is back in full force.
Mt. Spokane Ski & Snowboard Park, where the vast majority of my ski days happen, opened earlier this month with limited terrain and heavy, windblown snow. Nearly every day that’s followed has brought progressively colder, lighter snow, culminating in an 8-inch dump of champagne powder Sunday evening that transformed the mountain from a brushy-yet-skiable hill into a soft, marshmallow-covered playground.
At last, the region’s snow-addicted skiers and riders feel like all’s right with the world. I happen to be one of them, and there are so many things about the return of my natural habitat that have put a smile on my face. Here, in no particular order, are a few:
- Squadrons of young Mt. Spokane Ski Race Team kids gathered at the top of the Vista Cruiser chair, waiting for their coach to point out which part of the mountain to mob down.
- The parents of the racer kids patiently posting up in Lodge One – jovial, but consistently raising an eyebrow at any sasquatch-like outsider who ventures into the northern room where they congregate.
The politeness that I witnessed while driving up the mountain road to enjoy the season’s first powder morning. There was a shocking lack of tailgating, and slower cars were pulling over to let faster ones by. This generation of kids was raised right.
- Bags of leftover holiday candy being shared with lift operators. It’s cold out there, and they need the calories.
A temporary chair closure that caused a mass exodus along the fire road between the Northwood and Hidden Treasure
- chairs. Silently gliding through a snow-covered old-growth forest with a dozen other skiers was unexpected and magical.
- Riding the Vista Cruiser chair and witnessing a skier’s first attempt at a 360-degree spin that he nearly landed.
- The way the weather on the Hidden Treasure chair can be completely sunny while the rest of the mountain is completely socked-in.
- Reuniting with ski-hill friends that I haven’t seen in a year.
- Late night ski-tuning sessions in anticipation of a big day.
- The way a favorite pair of skis makes everything easier.
- Thigh burn from skiing too much powder. (I know, I know – I should get out of the back seat.)
Maybe someday I’ll do a column on all of the things I hate about skiing, but right now, nothing at all comes to mind. I’d better do some more research.
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