Thin snow, thick snow, no snow, new snow; rock skis, fat skis, hot skis, shotskis; wet snow, powder snow, chunky snow, ice. This season has been like "Dr. Seuss meets Red Lodge Mountain." The pent-up demand from a month of groomers and icy patches had adventurers trying to ski everything on the first fresh snowfall, catching tips under deadfall, hitting chicken heads, and scraping big rocks. We decided to let them scout out newly-opened runs and pack them smooth.
For something different, we skied on a weekday afternoon. With Cole Creek open, the views of the high country from both roads into Drifter are places of wonder. When the shadows are long on that side of the mountain, people come up after work or school to make a few runs. It's a mellow crowd.
As we skied into the Cole Creek chair at 2PM, our favorite liftie commented, "You're here later than usual." He's our favorite because we've known him the longest, but this year we have a particularly great group of lifties--funny, competent, and observant. He also gave us the heads-up that Barriers was groomed. We had avoided it because the bumps were icy, rocky, and gnarly, like the Doctor's monsters left to their own devices. We made it the last run of the day and were surprised to be alone on it.
The Stube at the end of a weekday is mellow too. We ran into our back alley neighbor who we seldom see until spring and our Back Alley friend who is skiing again after a bad break. We met some new friends, had a lively discussion of art and politics fueled by Powder Hound, and didn't leave until after 5:00.
We're learning to have no expectations of what a ski season is supposed to be. Any day that we're out and on skis is a gift.