Ski season is upon us!
You know it's going to be a good day on the mountain when there's fresh snow in the trees, hints of blue in the sky, and everyone in the lift line is beaming and cracking jokes.
Mt. Hood Meadows was closed for the season, poor Skibowl was stuck somewhere between summer and a winter, and there wasn't much open terrain at Timberline. But the snow was sweet and fresh, about 10 inches of new, and there were fresh tracks to be made in the trees. I was definitely not in the mood to complain.
First lift ride up I rode with Asit Rathod, Meg Spillman and Jon Waldum. Asit is a former pro skier who has climbed and skied from the summit on Mount Hood over 200 times. Meg is a proud Skiyente Club member, a PACRAT racer and a lively presence in Govy, where she and her family have a ski cabin. Jon is a Cascade Ski Club board member and a big Mount Hood history buff who was up to check out the cool old snow cats gathered for the Cat's Meow Jubilee.
This is one of the things I love about Mount Hood: the characters who are drawn to the mountain, the diversity of people you can run into and make turns with.
Crews were clearing the ice off the Magic Mile lift, so it was just Stormin' Norman for the morning. Not a lot of pitch there, but plenty of snow in the trees, and some sweet jumps and features on Conway. I took out the camera, and while I am definitely no Randy Boverman or Richard Hallman or Grant Myrdal, I did what I could. Asit is a real pro, and he taught me a lot about setting up and timing the shot rather than just slapping on the big lens and firing away like a machine gunner with unlimited bullets.
Here's Asit coming down through the trees:
Here's Jon getting a nice taste of that fresh snow:
We shredded powder and traded stories on the lift for three hours, then feasted on fondue up in the Ram's Head Bar. During lunch Timberline opened up the Mile chair, and the snow up there was exquisite. Usually fresh snow on the Mlle gets wind-scoured because of the lack of tree protection up high. But this time the snow fell with very little wind, and it was piled up in nice light stashes.
It was quite a scene on the Mile for the rest of the day, with all sorts of entertaining jumps and spills to watch from the chair. It was the type of day where people launch a little higher and crash a little harder — then get up smiling because the landing was soft.
My mind filled up with that old Willie Nelson song:
One night of love can't make up for six nights alone.
But I'd rather have one than none Lord, 'Cause I'm flesh and bone
As Willie knows, a touch of nice powder in April doesn't make up for three peak-season months without. But it certainly helps. It also bodes well for the upcoming summer camp season at Timberline, which is looking much more promising after a month of quality snowfall.
Ben Jacklet is the Editor and Publisher of Shred Hood.