Two years ago social life came to a screeching halt. Lovely new snow leered at winter recreationists who obediently stayed indoors or recreated in solitary walks through neighborhoods. I rather relished the peace and quiet. The city was so silent. Without airplanes and car traffic, it was the wind in the trees and the birds and the bees that tickled our ears. Even dogs were lulled into quietude, saved from the trauma of relentless human abandonment schedules.
I’m slowly emerging from my cocoon. In late February I joined trusted friends for a long-awaited Mom and Pop Ski Tour. Unfortunately, the snow this year is nowhere near as abundant as it was two years ago. But we set out with high hopes; the lack of snow made road travel that much easier.
Our first destination was Jackson, Montana. Yes, MONTANA, not Jackson Hole, Wyoming! From Jackson, MT we were close to my personal favorite Lost Trail Pass and to tiny Maverick Mountain, which is truly a gem of a homegrown ski area. The snow on Mav’s few nice, long runs was a bit worn out and scrapey the day we visited. But the mountain personnel oozed the kind of warm hospitality, joy, and enthusiasm that you’d never find at resort ski areas.
Lost Trail Pass sits just on the other side of that range, straddling both states. Lost, as the locals call it, is larger than Maverick but still holds a small mountain feel with old and slow lifts. It is locally famous for great, fluffy snow and glade skiing through perfectly spaced trees. We skied there on two days, the first of which was foggy and crowded due to a youth ski race. The second day we rejoiced in marvelous fresh snow.
Our next destination was a bit further north at Discovery Ski Area, or Disco as Jacksonites call it. The weather monkeys were not playing nice with us that day. We could see what should have been the top of the mountain from miles away, however it was shrouded in fog. The road was fine until a quarter mile from the parking lot where a small line of traffic came to an abrupt halt. A school bus had slid perpendicular to the line of travel. It was at this point that we realized what had been a mostly dry road had turned into a skating rink. When we finally arrived at the ski area, the parking lot was so slick that even a pack of muscular shredders had to crawl on all fours to make any progress. We made a few runs, but freezing rain and flat light was just not a lot of fun. Discovery deserves another try some other day.
We made the best of the day at the Silver Mill Restaurant and Bar in Philipsburg, MT which had amazing food and a real pro bartender. Being three of five customers that afternoon, we enjoyed watching her train a new bartender while she enjoyed educating us about high end (totally unaffordable) bourbon.
Well that’s outa my range. ❄ But can I taste with my nose? ❄ Now there’s a nose built for sniffing!