Embracing Winter Wonders

A relocation in close proximity to a ski hill requires learning new skills

By Micah Drew

I skied once in my first 25 years of life.

Despite growing up in a very outdoors-oriented family, my winter recreation habits involved running on snow-covered trails rather than strapping boards to my feet and attempting to stay upright on them.

It’s not like I never experienced winter fun growing up in Idaho. I cross-country skied through Yellowstone one holiday season and strapped on snowshoes to track down a Christmas tree every November after Thanksgiving.

But there was just one weekend, perhaps when I was 11 or 12, when my Dad decided that my sister and I should learn to downhill ski.

We made the trip up to Bogus Basin, Boise’s local ski hill, rented our gear and enrolled in a weekend of learn-to-ski classes. My memories of that weekend are all good. It was fun to slide fast down a mountain! But it didn’t stick. I had no desire to sink time and money into the world of winter.

In college, when my track teammates conspired about ways to make it up to Snowbowl to get in some quick laps after a Saturday morning long run without our coach finding out, I tuned them out. The desire to spend time in the cold, riding around on a mechanized bench seat just to windburn your cheeks and nose, was foreign to me.

But then I moved to the Flathead.

Seeing the runs cut into Big Mountain every time I drove to and from the Beacon office started to intrigue me last summer. I figured, if not now, when I live mere minutes from Whitefish Mountain Resort, then when?

This year, instead of hunting for a Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving, I drove down to Lookout Pass with my roommate, who conveniently runs the ski school at Whitefish Mountain Resort.

With a newly purchased ski setup, and a friend with a decade of experience teaching newcomers how to ski, how could I not take the plunge?

It took approximately four hours, eight runs and surprisingly fewer crashes than I was anticipating to get hooked.

I haven’t missed a weekend up at the mountain since. I’ve downloaded ski-jam playlists to my Spotify and almost feel competent on the slopes. At least enough that I no longer feel bad about asking friends to ski with the new guy.

I’m embracing something that I spent the last quarter-century dismissing.

I’ve always enjoyed peaking mountains, but the energy and atmosphere of doing so with a lift in the winter is a new realm of wonder. People get so excited about the chance to get in a few laps on the hill after work, so stoked about weather forecasts and the prospect of fresh pow, that it’s downright infectious.

I don’t imagine many people are left in the Flathead who haven’t experienced this winter rush, but to any holdouts remaining, please, learn from my 25 years of ignorance. Watch a ski film, read an old issue of Powder Magazine (RIP), buy an introductory pair of skis and get stoked.

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