It’s Always a Powder Day Somewhere
The road comes and goes from my vision as the wind alternately whips the falling snow into a frenzy and wanes to let the flakes follow the call of gravity. I switch between my hi-beams and normal headlights in the hopes that the road comes into better focus as it unfolds beyond the windshield, but what I really need to do is slow down.
My truck wanders in and out of the ruts left in the packed snow by other travelers, but the two-laner has a definitively abandoned feel at this hour of the night. I ease off the gas, drop my speed to a more reasonable 40-something and take a deep breath. The slower speed makes a big difference; now, I can actually see the curve of the road and my death grip on the wheel eases, as does my tensed posture required to crane my head toward the dash for a better view. I’m a seasoned snow driver with countless winter road trips under my belt; I should know better than to push the pace. Nonetheless, I do. We all do from time to time. I chalk it up to the excitement of the storm and anticipation of the skiing. I take another deep breath and try to be happy with 40-something. I’ll get there eventually and better in one piece than limping.
Road tripping is an integral part of ski culture. It’s the backbone that leads to new adventures. Ever since leaving college and embracing the ski bum lifestyle, the roads north and west have held special appeal, sparking the ski bum spirit and fueling fantasies of deep, untracked powder days and undiscovered terrain. Mix in a little couch surfing (nothing like a beater couch after a full day of driving or skiing), a night or two in a cheap motel (need a shower now and then) and the occasional night in the back of the truck (gotta save the pennies for food, beer and a lift ticket or two) and you’ve got an adventure worthy of inspiring the next one.
It’s been a December to remember for much of the West. Fresh snow has been on the menu from British Columbia to California and Colorado, and the road trips started early this year. But any ski bum worth his or her weight knows that the much-talked-about El Niño phenomena is a fickle beast and our current feast could turn to famine on a whim. After last season, many Northwest skiers – myself included – have a ski-it-while-you-can attitude as we wait for the dire El Niño predictions to ring true. Deep December powder days have simply helped to fuel the appetite for skiing, but as high pressure moves in and El Niño appears to be taking shape, at least momentarily, it’s time to watch the weather and start planning the next adventure, because, as the saying goes, it’s always a powder day somewhere.