Monday, June 26, 2023


 Everyone was complaining.  Even skiers, which, I, I just, can't even, wut, shut up f(*&#$)(&*^$#(


Anyway.  350, give or take, just isn't that much.  Here in the desert, it is absolutely awesome, and I'm here for it, and I am grateful for it.  Maybe approaching as grateful as I was in '002 for that 800" winter.  I hit 56 days on snow, one of the only years I've been able to get 50 without actually cheating and working at the hill.  My timing was way off, with most of the surprisingly common deep days falling on a Thursday, or a Monday, or like, the only Wednesdays I worked, but there was a Thursday--of course--where Ryan (the Owner) texted me in the middle of the night okay it was 6 thirty am and said GO SKIING IT RAD WHEEEEEEEEE or something.  Boise folks were shittin their britches, but all I could think, the entire time, was how mundane that day would have felt in the Washington Cascades. Welcome, certainly. Good, or even great, absolutely. And also just another Thursday.

I say this not in an attempt to elicit pity for my current station, or envy of my past, I just find the absolute mind-loss of some locals funny.  This winter was incredible, and it didn't end until May.  I will always enjoy any warm sun that closes out the lift-access portion of a particular Cool Season, but it isn't necessary.

6 am.  Good.

17 May '002, Baker.  I was waiting for a ride home, back to Enumclaw, cos the GL still wouldn't start.  It was a Subaru, natch, but for some reason it developed an aversion to starting when it was cold and damp.  If you've lived in WWA, you know that's basically September to July, more if you are in the hills, more still if those hills happen to be home to a ski-area-advertised 663 inches of snowfall each year.  (NOAA has allegedly verified Baker's snowfall since 1991, the year of School of Fish's eponymous and quite enjoyable first record.)  Anyway, it was the Friday after Mother's Day, and it was snowing heavily.  No surprises there.  What had been a bit surprising was Mother's Day hit 86 degrees American at my Aunt's house in Clearview, and that Friday, one of the Cannuck stations was reporting snow at the water in Vancouver.  This is unusual even to me, and I pretend no weather is unusual.  I'd gotten a ride to town the previous week, and rode to Enumclaw with somebody, I assume my brother John, but he may have already headed to Copper.  Such is memory.  

9.22 am. Gooder.

We'd left Clearview fairly late, and when Ma dropped me off at the E Lodge, the GL was gone.  Like, disappeared.  Had it been daylight when we got there, we'd have been treated to a pretty fun sight, the car twenty feet down the hill from the E Lodge lot, nose buried in a huge bank.  I'd taken to leaving it unlocked, out of gear, so Jeff or whoever was in the loader could yank it out of place to plow and then shove it back in.  Apparently the last time we'd pushed it into the bank and I'd forgot to check why it was stationary.  When the bank pulled off the lot and down the hill, as giant, ridiculously heavy snowbanks are wont to do this late in the year, the GL had simply been pulled along with it.  A dude named Andy helped me pull it back up the hill with the loader after work one warm day that week, and by then it was another five or six feet further down.  I clamboured down with a bunch of 2-buh-6 to smooth the ride, hooked a chain on a tow loop, and Andy backed up slow and steady with the loader.  Easy as pie.  I think.  

Looking out the window in the kitchen, it looked like mid-March more than mid-May.  When Chris showed up, we threw all my junk in the Escort's trunk, and that was that.  Baker was no more for me.  800 inches that year, 127 days on snow by 9 July, but my last breath at Baker was ignoring my poor little red GL wagon and just never looking back.  Thing is, my neighbour had a tow truck and hulk hauler, and offered to drive up from Enumclaw to grab the car, saying he and the Shari needed a good drive.  When he got to my parents', he asked if I'd rather drive off the hulk hauler or let him lower it with his winch.  Apparently it'd dried out enough to just start when someone turned the key.  There's a short story in there somewhere.

350 inches is a lot of snow to a lot of people.  If you are in, say, Tucson AZ, it is dang near unfathomable.  St Paul, in what is known as a very wintry state, averages somewhere along the lines of 40 or 50.  The somewhat ambitiously named Mt Snow, VT, gets around 150 or 160.  And so on.

Noonish.  Goodest.

Silver Lake, Colorado, is home to some sort of 24 hour record for snowfall.  I assume it's not midnight to 11.59, or Bridger Bowl wouldn't claim they have the one-day record that they stole under shady circumstances from my home hill of Crystal at 68 inches.  Silver Lake claims 76 inches in 24, Bridger 68, and Crystal 64.  I was there for Crystal's record.  Well, not there, but in town, sledding on blackberry bushes cos there was so much snow even in town.  I skied the day before, Wednesday, 23 Feb 94. Auspicious.  Stuffed my head in some snow and didn't realise I wasn't buried.  Panic, times like 30.  Some dude yelled down from the chair "just lift yer head up, Kid!" and then I was fine.  Well, my heart and lungs would argue, but I didn't die.

Shasta with their 189 inches in a week.  Sheesh.

Courtesy of Jim Steenburgh.

Alta got over 900, Tahoe up near 700. Pomerelle got 482. The list goes on.  Brighton, 857.  Mammoth, 705 at the base, 885 at the summit.  That 350 inches we had here?  A good helping; to reiterate, one I am grateful for.  This year was one of the best in 40 years of skiing.  But don't think for one second that it is "a lot" or "too much" or worse, that we needed it to go away quickly.  July comes, with seething inevitability.  It will be hot, nearly unbearable.  None of us will be able to sleep.  This winter, all that snow that fell, the flooding that has been and will be, we don't control it.  We don't even matter.  It isn't "good" or "bad", it just is.  It would be here without us, and probably better for it.  Our reactions, our perceptions, they do not matter.  Not one bit.

He's right.