Nature’s Rules

Yesterday’s heat created snow that carved like creamed corn. Every pitch, gully, glade, bowl or face felt skiable. I hit as many as I could. I plummeted more than 42,000 vertical feet drawn out over 39 miles outside Ogden, Utah at Snowbasin Resort. 

The sun radiated off the snow and winter white flesh. Bikini tops appeared on mountaintop sun decks and and sports bras under suspenders in parking lot beer circles. Shirtless teen boys flaunted their hairless physiques with their snowboards laid across their shoulders, their arms wrapped around their gear flexing.

This morning the remnants of Sunday fun day warmth gave way to a cold Monday reality. A night-shift local apologized to me in the parking lot at eight about the poor quality of the snow. I told him it was better than Michigan’s lack of it. Even worse the gondolas never turned due to already heavy winds forecast to increase and sustain 50 mph. More than half the resort shut off by avalanche control and wind safety, put a crimp in my plans. By 10:00 AM the cold front swept from the northwest across the range. Mt. Ogden’s peak disappeared, the sun a mere rumor overhead. Far fewer, but maybe hardier souls zipped up high avoiding exposed flesh.

Far across the valley to the south a rusted haze hung over thousands of square miles. The earlier southern winds whipped up the desert dust from Moab and sent it aloft. Ungroomed runs looked skiable from the John Paul lift, but boards on the ground rattled my bones like skiing over a field of uneven, shattered glass boulders. I picked my way down, legs quivering at the strain of holding back all speed. Fun was not supposed to be this much work.

Red haze south of Snowbasin

After noon the temperature dropped into the low twenties and the early promise of a softening mountain went unfulfilled. Every run iced over, ski edges screamed against the mountain facets registering around 12 on the Mohs 10 point scale of diamond hardness. Maybe the third-shifter did owe me an apology, I did travel all this way.

But Mother Nature owes us nothing.

She cast me off the mountain a few hours earlier than I thought was my due, so I drove across the valley. I ascended Powder Mountain in a Nissan Versa just to see what all the POWMOW fuss was about. The engine RPMs sought the redline on the twisting climb: 8%, 12%, 16% grades. The car was not made for this. When I reached the summit road the glass, wood and steel of the modernist box style homes afforded those who could afford it the view of the mountain I just left once again bathed is sun. Reminding me….

Snowbasin seen from Powder Mountain

Tomorrow lies just beyond the horizon, if only we rise to meet it.

About the post

Essays, Travel

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