When I embarked on this trip, I didn’t have much of a plan. Where I’ve gone next has been dictated by snowfall and the availability of rides. My very loose original plan has already changed multiple times, which is just another part of the adventure. In that same vein, I’ve been “stuck” in Montana for a few weeks. I’ve spent enough time in Big Sky that anyone who doesn’t know my story just assumes that I’m an employee (it probably doesn’t hurt that most of my crashing arrangements would suggest just that). Being stuck somewhere isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially when that somewhere is a half mile walk from the base of Big Sky Resort. A walk that has now been decorated with clever drawings left behind by a departing employee, drawings making bold statements about shredding pow, disregarding females, and making financial gains (I’m paraphrasing here, but you get the idea).
Early last week, I would call it the BEST place to be stuck. While Mt. Hood was getting a tasty 11 inch dump, Big Sky was getting 2 feet of powdery goodness. It was dry and fluffy champagne powder (insert mimosa reference here). Tuesday was storm riding with free refills. Duke nuking, puking, dumping, pooping, or whatever you wanna call it, it was epic. I finally made it over the The Headwaters that day. You can guess what adjective would best describe it, but I will give you a hint: it starts with “ep” and ends with “ic.” To top it all off, I got introduced to yet another shack in the woods. It was one of those days you wish would never end, but I welcomed that 4:00 last lift ride up, because I knew it would be even better the next day.
That night, while en route back up the mountain from the food bank in the Big Sky meadow (stay broke, my friends) with droves of free groceries in tow (many left behind by affluent tourists frequenting various area lodging), our shuttle bus got stuck and subsequently sideways on the highway. At the moment when we came to a halt blocking most of the road, I turned to look at my friend. He remained seated with an enormous grin on his face. He said to me “I don’t even care that we are stuck, because it’s dumping and that’s why we’re stuck.” There was a large group of tourists on the bus being obnoxious on the ride up, which continued as we got into this sticky situation, but with a varied tone. “Open the bus door! Those cars are going to hit us!” they yelled as lights of cars coming down the highway reflected off the bus windows. I looked back, and my friend was still sitting there, grin as big as ever (probably bigger). As a bellman rolled past and offered to take a few people up if he could get around, said tourists flooded past us like a gaper torrent, with utter disregard for anyone else on the bus.
Like my friend, I was content, because I knew it was puking. Eventually the shreiff and some other assistance showed up. As the sheriff was using a winch to try and straighten the bus out to let traffic pass, we looked on from the side of the road and took full advantage of Big Sky’s laws, and by that I mean the lack of an open container law. One of the people stuck in line uphill from us came over when recognizing my friend, and this is what he had to say: “I was stuck in the line of cars and then I saw her running around with a bottle of wine, so I decided it looked more fun down here and I walked down.”
Our grins were justified, and we awoke to more fresh pow Wednesday morning. The storm had deposited another healthy foot or two in wind loaded areas, and those were the first areas we went. We headed straight to the Shedhorn/Dakota area, a bit eagerly, having to take a cat track out. But as we got off of Swifty lift our second time up we took the same high traverse, with some inside info that Shedhorn was opening. After one of the most epic steep and deep tree lines of my season, I came up on the gate just as Ski Patrol was opening it. It was knee deep, with mandatory face shots.
It was all time, but it wasn’t always bottomless. These mountains are called the Rockies for a reason. A few fresh gouges later, several of which being core shots, I’ve gotta remind myself that snowboards are tools for fun. If you had fun, it’s best to get over the fact that you dinged, or more than dinged in my case, an almost new board.
With temps getting into the 50’s by Friday afternoon, all that cold smokey goodness turned to sloppy mashed potatoes. I’m talking served by a lunch lady with a scruffy goatee sloppy. Temps upward of 70 degrees down in the meadow were a recipe for more disc golf (I’ve played this game more in the last few weeks than I have in my entire life) and skateboarding, as the new snow rapidly melted.
I’m glad I waited it out for the characteristically Big Sky late dump, and I may be “stuck” in this area for the rest of this week. With temps dropping midweek, I will be doing my most ridiculous of snow dances and thinking dirty thoughts about my snowboard.