Several times I have posted a blog that nature has immediately made out-of-date. Yesterday, as I started this one, an enormous wind-driven smoke cloud billowed over town from the southwest. After all the vicissitudes of strange weather and challenging conditions at Red Lodge Mountain this season, we had a wildfire off the West Fork Road. Our neighbor dude called from the mountain to report the fire location and the wind closure of lifts. "If I'm going to be stuck here, I might as well have some food," he said and waited it out in the Stube with a beer and a plate of wings.
Before the fire, spring visitors were ski clubs from North Dakota and Saskatchewan, college students, and Minnesota families with children outfitted in pink, lime green, and aqua, lining up at the Miami Beach chair looking like little Easter eggs. Factoring in latitude and elevation, spring does not truly arrive in Red Lodge until mid-May. However, a small rabbit has taken up residence in our yard, an optimistic tulip is forming a bud, and our back alley neighbor reports seeing a big black bear sniffing at the garbage cans.
No ski area in the West can brag about good snow at the end of this season. We have been picking out the runs most likely to have the best conditions, balancing sunshine and shade with time of day, morning and afternoon temperatures, and emerging obstacles. Lower Continental has been a kick.
Die-hards are hoping against hope for a mega-powder storm in this last week. Realists predict it for after April 5. On closing day we plan to be on the mountain early for a picnic brunch and what's left of the snow. That old boyfriend will most likely propose our traditional last run down Lodge Trail before an end of the season celebration on the Stube deck.
Thank you for reading this blog. See you next winter, on the Mountain!