To sum up the conditions during the last week of my “snomadic” adventure in a few sentences, it would go a little something like this. All aboard the Pineapple Express! First stop: Powtown! Next stop: “snowboredom,” subtropical temps (in comparison to a normal Idahoan February), and mashed potato sliding. Early in the week that snain turned to snow and I was pleasantly surprised with another Mt Hood-esque powder day (in terms of snow conditions, not crowds), and then conditions turned back to Spring-like as the week progressed … in short, the snow conditions became akin to that of every half pipe competition you’ve ever seen from the 90s.
I woke up Tuesday thinking it was going to be a sub-par type of day on the hill. Boy, was I ever wrong. Brundage reported 5 inches of fresh snow, but it felt like much more and was in fact much more in many areas of the resort. Throughout the day it snowed, it snained, and Mother Nature even threw tiny ice pellets at us. Even with all that wintery weather weirdness, the day was amazing. We may not have had sunshine at the hill, but we also didn’t have a phalanx of powder hungry masses in the lift “line.” Our inaugural run of the day was right off the main lift, and still consisted of mostly untouched lines. Fueled by barley sodas and pepperoni sticks, we kept getting after it all day. There was plenty of easily accessible off-piste powder, but we decided to get in a hike to Upper Hidden Valley. What can I say? When I have my cake, I like to eat it too. I’ve never been disappointed with a hike to Upper Hidden. It’s a mellow hike (especially if it’s been boot packed already), followed by a traverse atop a narrow ridge. Once it’s time to drop in, you find yourself amongst wind loaded tree lines and pillowy cliff drops. I’m getting the willies just thinking about it. Unfortunately I was so in the moment that I didn’t do the best job documenting it, so you’ll just have to take my word for it.
I also made it to Tamarack midweek. Hitchhiking to the resort took more work than finding fresh lines (in 2 day old snow) once I got there. After plenty of strange looks from people in cars passing by, a woman about the same age as my mom picked me up. She explained to me that she, even at age 55, still hitchhikes sometimes. After getting me to the access road in Donelly, she went on her way, but not without first asking me if I needed water or anything. Once again fueled by pepperoni sticks, I put my thumb out again and eventually got picked up by a Tamarack lifty.
It was the first time I had been there in years, and the ownership of the resort has since changed for the better. It’s not as “mom n’ pop” feeling as Brundage, but the vibe is still equally as awesome. Like all the mountains in the area, it has a Mardi Gras tree littered with beads and womens’ undergarments. Tamarack’s trail map is like an inverted pyramid of pure awesome. From the summit, an extensive perpendicular ridge awaits you with a plethora of in and out of bounds possibilities in either direction. Backcountry access? Oh, you betcha! During a normal winter, the summit acts like powdery funnel into the base, or to the access road if you want some out of bounds turns and are up for the hitch back to the base of the resort.
I opted to lap the summit lift, as conditions down lower were quite variable. I did get a bit carried away out of bounds a few times and had to do some mud/grass hopping and rock dodging. Wherever you may be riding that’s not Canada, Japan, or the US east coast, remember, early season conditions do exist … in February. For most the day at Tamarack, I took the far skier right line (accessible with a little skate and/or a mellow boot pack hike, depending on how far you want to go). I even took a run with some ski patrollers. Like almost everyone else out here, they were super friendly and mellow. To be honest, I thought that the ride I took on a sled from Marmot Ridge with a blown out knee would be my only run with a ski patroller. But apparently I was wrong, and this time around I had a lot more fun. It ended up being a super fun day with plenty of fresh mashed potato lines. Thanks to Smith Optics and a blacked out Darth Vader lens, I was in perfect shape for glaring sunshine. I rounded out the day by lapping the park, which is set up quite well, and pushed it til the last chair up for the day before hitting the bar at the base and asking around for a ride back to McCall.
Later in the week I missed my ride for a sidecountry hike accessible via Brundage (when you’re on the road and you get a chance to sleep in a real bed, sometimes it’s hard to drag yourself out of it), but I made the most of my day and got over to the McCall Skatepark for some “urban” shredding.
#snowbored on Friday meant #oldguyurban mission to the McCall skatepark, one of the spots there's still some leftover snow in town. Like skatin on peanut buttery mashed potatoes with a crusty frosting. @usoutdoor @polerportland @brucersnowstuff @smithoptics @seeinanewway #lensbaby #sweet50 #haveboardwilltravel #snomad #tiredsnowboards #nwradventure #brucing #selfie
The weekend shredding at Brundage that followed was somewhat, well, crap. Snow consistency varied from that of some mashed potatoes that had had been sitting under a heat lamp all day, to 3 week old crusty birthday cake frosting. It was still a fun day, but only with the right attitude. Presidents’ Day weekend was in full effect and the Griswolds had taken over the mountain. For the first time in weeks, I had to deal with a lift line (albeit a relatively small one). Luckily Brundage decided to build a ski-up ice bar at the base of their main lift (winning). There was plenty of entertaining people watching to be done on the mountain. Jeans tucked in boots, neon onesies, cowboy hats, speed suits, or “that guy” riding without a shirt, it was all there.
Fitting with the nature of my trip, my plans have changed a bit. North Idaho resorts are hurting, and there’s no snow in the Moscow/Pullman area to do any around town shredding. I’m working on catching a ride back down to Boise this week after getting another day or two in around here, and then headed east to the Targhee area. Stay tuned next Monday for more!