Thursday, April 28, 2005

Spring day, wintry powder

My 57th birthday, a spring tele day, a selfie on a deserted ski slope
April is always a stormy month in Montana and this year is no exception.
Spring snow and windstorms have been blowing through dusting our northcentral Montana mountains with much-needed snow.
I knew I couldn’t miss Thursday when I awoke to a skiff of snow in Great Falls and a temperature of 17 degrees.
I packed up the backcountry skis and headed for Kings Hill, hunting for some telemark snow.
On the way up I experienced a variety of weather ranging from drizzle to snow and skies that were dark and threatening to bright blue and sunny.
While there was deep snow along the side of the road between Neihart and Monarch, Belt Creek and its feeder streams were bank-full with spring runoff, giving them a wild and uncontrolled ambiance.
Deep in the Great Falls valley it was gray and wintry.
At Kings Hill the sun was out and big, billowy cumulus clouds were decorating the ski hill.
The Showdown Ski Area always closes down the first week of April, so it was quiet and abandoned and I had it all to myself.
In addition to the perfect spring weather, the hill had just been hit by 2-3 inches of powder overnight that was laying on the packed ski runs.
I don’t think I’ve ever had a better day skiing up and down the runs.
I had only enough energy to go to the top, about a 1,200-foot rise from the lodge, three times.
There was more untracked and available powder than a score of skiers could handle.
Just after noon, as I was making my way up for the third and final time, the snow was beginning to stick --- which I had expected. The bright sun was warming these slopes.
In the distance snow squalls was hitting the Deadman ridge, Yogo and Big Baldy peaks.
What magic!
I watch the weather very carefully in April and early May hoping for a day such as I experienced.
And what made it even better was that it was my 57th birthday.
What a present!

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