By Eino Holm
One year, we opened on the 4th of November. Something like 18" new on basically dirt, weeds, dead beargrass stalks, and some leftover teaser-crust. I was ecstatic. Also, not alone. A solid handful of us, whoever we were, were there. Green Valley skied the best. Maybe it was the only thing that really skied. If I remember correctly, and I usually sometimes am sort of able to, we had to download on 11 (Chinook). I think 10 and 3 were skiable. I may be conflating two memories here, but I think I skied the morning and then headed to work. In my ever idealised memory, it was in the Safeway, but it could have been later, when I was at Performance Bikes, pretending to know what I was doing. At any rate, I skied horribly. It was opening day, there were eighteen inches of unsettled Cascady manna on just enough crust to cover some of the dirt. The bottom of 10 is a wet mess when not covered in snow, and otherwise it is a wet mess that is covered in snow, not always fully. Several small springs keep the hillside muddy and alive with black flies in the summer. Mel's Left (how a cat driver trail name got on the official map, I don't know) has this rad soft right-hander with a big enough rollover that I can still see Mike Kupsis gettin rad on some big Dynastar Bigs back in '000. Mute grab, check. Tele, natch. Anyway, I didn't get rad, and when I tried to turn toward 11 to download, well, my teles and I had an argument.
See, the XXXs wanted to stop moving. Like, now. In fact, they wanted so badly to stop that both tips dug into the mud that was quickly spreading in the eighteen melting inches of early November gift. I, you know, wanted to slide on over to the top of 11, step on them Targa heels, jump off the skis, and jump on the chair. The skis won the argument at a trot. Not a chance. My logic must have been flawed. I was muddy, pancaked in one puddle or other, cursing, sore already and the work day hadn't even started. It was a stark enough moment that my memory of the day stops there, face down in the mud and maybe a little embarrassed.
November skiing is special, a kind of niche that many folks fight for and many other folks just do not understand. Some times it's a 30 minute line at the bottom of BMX at A Basin. For me, the best is '007, the year I got fired by a guy in Sumner who was too bloody stupid to never hire me in the first place and I spent all of November on unemployment waiting for a guaranteed ski tuning job that would start, as luck would have it, on opening day. Crystal opened 1 December that year, got washed out by an historical rain cycle, and somehow managed (sorry, not somehow managed, it's Washington, home of the top 3 verified yearly snow totals IN THE WORLD*) to reopen the next weekend. Driving up on Sunday, 2 Dec, was a wonderful gorp of axle-deep slop on the highway. I got stuck by the late and lamented Crystal Inn cos the driver of the minivan next to me had parked too closely and I was worried if I goosed 'er the Legacy would slide sideways and smashify the damn thing. Anyway,
the dude from Robert's Rescue some random guy (don't sue 'im!) happened by with a tow strap that I just now remembered I also had in the trunk at the time, under the mat, and we shoveled all the snow we could between me and the Caravan. He yanked me out with what I think I remember was a Grand Cherokee, in the process only sort of scraping the whole side of the offending minivan from tail pipe to headlight with my 30th-Anniversary-Gold, 5 speed Legacy L 2.2 wagon with the all-wheel drive that I then the very next day bought new snow tyres for cos, wouldn't you know it, studs are studly.