Saturday, March 11, 2006

Heather Canyon

Friday, Lower Heather Canyon remained closed all morning while the Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Patrol blasted the upper canyons. It was killing us. Skiers and boarders hungry for untracked snow kept stopping by the roped off gate at the top of the bowl to harrass, politely, the young woman in the red parka stationed there. "Take another lap," she kept saying. "It's going to be another hour." But, after a while, she was saying "fifteen minutes, probably longer." By then, there were up to a hundred skiers and boarders lined up along the rope, waiting for the okay to drop over the side for first tracks. I was particularly eager to get going ahead of the boarders, who ruin fresh snow faster than do skiers. I never heard her say "go," but somehow the message got through, and "whoooof," I was under the rope and down the slope way, way ahead of the boarders, and I started whooping. I'm not really a whooper, so you know I was having fun. Bouncy turn after bouncy turn, moving fast, breathless, and all over in a few minutes. Ah.

I skied Heather Canyon all day, long after most of the skiers and boarders who'd been looking to make first tracks went off to find other stashes. This is what I know: a bowl like this has plenty of unmarked snow left after the first skiers get to it, even on a day like this. So, I resist being fooled into spending my day hunting down patches in 'cool' locales such as the trees--though I do love tree skiing--and I hog all I get. Most of the day, I was alone on Heather, save for a few others, here and there. As the day lengthened I saw ever fewer experienced skiers and boarders. By mid-afternoon, lesser skiers and wobblier boarders began picking their ways down, having finally gotten the nerve to try. They reminded me of hyenas scavenging the once magnificent carcass that has been brought down and only half-devoured by a pride of lions.

I got a full day in.


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