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Mountains of Detail

March 7, 2012

Neighbor dog likes the snowSo yes, I was in Idaho most of last week. Mr. Karen and I were originally scheduled to go a couple weeks before that but ended up postponing the trip because a few things came up that made it seem like that was the right thing to do despite the costs involved (in airline change fees and less favorable flight times and not being able to see our friend Wendy who was going to be there the original week). It turned out to be a good move, as we ended up having more snow than we’ve ever seen in a ski week anywhere (and we’ve been at Alta when there was so much the road was closed and they locked us in our lodges while they did avalanche control). We arrived very late on Saturday night (Sunday morning, really) to find two trucks parked in front of our condo, blocking our garage. We never found out who they belonged to, but we’re pretty sure they were people staying at the next condo building down the road who weren’t able to get up their driveway because of all the snow. We parked across the street in the area where these folks should have gone and went in to bed. When we woke up Sunday morning, there was at least six inches of new snow on our truck, bringing the 48 hour total to 32 inches. 32 inches! The person who’d parked in front of our garage had left by that time, so we quickly cleared our truck (much to the delight of a neighbor dog, who ran around biting at the snow we were brushing off) and staked out our spot—we didn’t put it into the garage because that would have meant shoveling out the approach and we were eager to get on the slopes.

Almost pole deepWhen we did get on the hill, I had such a great day, despite getting so little sleep the night before and being three time zones away from home. The snow was so deep and so light and so fun it added up to being one of my top 10 ski days ever, maybe even top 5. Late in the day, I heard a couple people comment on the lift about it being all tracked out, but those people were silly. Maybe it was tracked out by Schweitzer standards, but that just means it’s the same as maybe 10:30 in the morning at a popular resort in Colorado. There were still plenty of places to find untouched powder, like along the edges of less popular runs and in the trees. My last run of the day I was floating down through knee deep powder and suddenly hit a pocket of thigh deep snow; I just laughed when I fell down it was so soft and fluffy—and then giggled with delight when I successfully managed to execute the “cross your ski poles and use them as a platform” technique to get back up again without having to pop off a ski. There was another four or five inches of snow Sunday night, and Monday’s skiing was almost as fun as Sunday’s—only almost because I didn’t have quite the vim I did the day before.

There was no new snow Monday night, so we decided Tuesday was a good day to try and get someone to come replace the condo’s water heater. It wasn’t an emergency, since we still were getting some hot water, but given the age of the heater and the fact that Mr. Karen discovered some burnt wiring and melted plastic by one of the heating elements we decided it was best to get that taken care of. It was pleasantly straightforward; the first place we called could do it that morning, and by lunchtime we had a new water heater. Sure, it cost more than a season pass to the ski resort, but it should last a lot longer than one winter. I decided to take the rest of the day off and went into town to do some shopping and let my legs rest, while Mr. Karen hit the slopes again.

Powder skisOver the next two days, another 20 inches of snow fell, and it was just a festival of skiing as much as our legs could stand. I’ve never before had a ski trip when I only used my powder boards the whole time. It was wonderful! Sure, we had to shovel all those inches of snow off the decks at the condo, but that’s a small price to pay for having so much fun the rest of the time. Friday morning we had to leave to head back to Michigan; it was time to drive the truck home, and we needed nearly every waking minute of the next three days to do that. As much snow as we’d gotten on the mountain, we ran into very little on the drive. There were some flurries around the Idaho/Montana border, some snow in Wisconsin, and a little more in parts of Michigan, but nothing anywhere near the “oh no, I hope they don’t close the freeway” storms we’ve faced on some trips. Still, the drive it wasn’t all sunshine and roses; there were some cranky moments, like when we had trouble finding a hotel in Billings (the Class C high school basketball tournament is apparently quite a popular event; the first two places we tried to get a room were completely full and both had teenagers gathered around the lobby computers). I am really looking forward to the time some years in the future when we can make the drive in a more leisurely fashion, stopping to see things like the World’s Largest Sandhill Crane (which is not visible from the freeway, unlike the giant cow and the giant bison).

(Most of the photos from the trip are in this set. I didn’t put all of the hand dryer ones in there, though, since I’m pretty sure my interest in them is far greater than the casual observer—they are all in my stream, though.)

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