More Dogs on Main Street
March 25, 2006
Ski season is coming to a close, but what a great one it’s been. I’ve caught a string of great ski days. Any one of them would stand out in the best of seasons, and to connect them like a run of great powder turns, in late March, is just incredible. It was actually a week ago on a Wednesday that a plan to drive over to Alta was thoroughly thwarted by traffic and road closures. Reports were slow in coming in, but we finally determined that Little Cottonwood was closed, and then got word that I-80 was also closed (that doesn’t happen very often anymore); we had to adjust.
So we abandoned that plan, and moved to PCMR. We skied off Silverlode and Thaynes for a while, and noticed the patrol dropping the rope on Jupiter. We weren’t the first to get there, but we were among the first 25 or 30, and had the place more or less to ourselves for as long as the legs would last. The last two runs were in a secret stash where the wind had loaded it up. They may have been the best of the day, on a day when "best" is off the charts.
I dragged myself home and slept it off. Any semblance of productivity in the afternoon was shot. The next morning, we reverted to Plan A, and made the trip to Alta. Because of the road closures the day before, Alta was still more or less untouched. The only skiers there the day before had been those lucky enough to be staying at the lodges in the canyon — trapped and forced to ski thigh-deep powder alone. So on Thursday, when the common rabble like me got there, it was still more or less untouched. We covered the place pretty effectively, but Alta is big and not easily explored on a single day.
It was a marketing dream day, the kind of conditions you could wait a whole season for and not be lucky enough to hit. When I lived down in Salt Lake, I used to ski Alta quite a bit. But after 25 years on this side of the mountain, I’ve fallen out of the habit. It’s just difficult to pass up the skiing we have here to drive all the way over there. But on those rare days when we’ve been blessed by the powder angels, it’s truly heaven. It’s big, steep, and beautiful.
Not to be outdone, there was a deep powder day at Deer Valley on Sunday. It was enough to fill in the monster moguls at the bottom of Daly Bowl. The trees were as good as they get. We did the hike around the backside to X-Files a couple of times. I skied until I had to stop, had a very civilized Deer Valley lunch, and went out for more. I was giggling all the way down.
And then there was Tuesday in Jupiter, with a kind of surprising 20 inches or so. Portuguese Gap was blown in. The snow was so deep and so light that it was like skiing on air. I’d get all set into the turn position, and nothing happened. The snow offered no resistance to the skis. I might as well have jumped out of a plane as into that snow. I finally got a bit of a turn to hold, but really just plunged ahead, turning in pockets of air all the way down.
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The sun came out by the end of the week. The sun. It’s been a while since we’ve seen old Sol around here. Normally, by this deep in the ski season, I’m well into a second tube of sun block. This year, I’m still on the top half of the first one. I’ve worn a gaiter and helmet liner all season. The sun — what a concept. Spring skiing in spring (with another big storm on the horizon for next week.)
At the bottom of the hills things are getting pretty warm and the snow is tough. The beginner skiers were flailing away in heavy, wet, edge-grabbing snow, wondering what the excitement was all about. But at the top of the mountains, it was nothing short of perfection. I have skied the promised land.
Last weekend was the third anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. We’re closing in on the third anniversary of Bush standing on the aircraft carrier announcing "mission accomplished." Still being greeted as liberators after all these years. The president has been all over the country this week trying to convince us that things are going well. He has a gift, a rare ability to stare reality in the face and not see it. The civilian death toll in Iraq is averaging about 80 people a day from car bombs and executions. That’s close to 30,000 dead a year if it keeps up. An odd measure of success, if you ask me.
Since 9/11, in Bush’s war on terror, we have relegated the search for bin Laden to the back burner, abandoned Afghanistan to the narco-war lords, and managed to provide a minimal sense of security to small portions of Baghdad. Investigators were able to get bomb-making materials on airplanes at 21 of 21 U.S. airports tested. We couldn’t respond to a natural disaster that announced its schedule a week in advance. In WWII, in roughly the same amount of time, we had mobilized the nation, committed the entire civilian economy to the war effort, and conquered Europe and Japan. The situations are not completely analogous, but you do have to wonder about the quality of the leadership.