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Living the ski bum dream

Happy Susan.

Happy Susan.

My new God’s name is Ullr.

Floating. Floating all day. On 24 inches of freshies, on good vibes between friends, on rays of sun sparkling on snow crystals in the air. Floating in the afterglow of a fantastic day. The Wasatch got dumped with snow all day yesterday, and I called in “overwhelmed” at my Solitude night job, leaving my Wednesday wiiiiiide open to pay tribute to Ullr (ooh-ler), the Norse god of snow.

I went out with Brighton friends, Jack, Koogs, and David. We rode to the top of the Great Western chair and slipped our way out of bounds and paused between the huge, smooth, wind-sculpted cornices that hung over Lacko-Waxen, a 100-meter (wide and deep) bowl on the back side of Clayton’s peak. We peered through the tips of our skis at the sparkly white expanse of untouched snow below and dropped in one at a time. David launched a small jump at the bottom of the bowl and landed in a cloud of snow. “I CAN’T SEE ANYTHING!” he howled as he continued making turns in the nearly chest-deep snow. Hiking back up, out of the bowl, I followed Jack as he broke trail up the side of the hill. It’s quiet outside of the resort. Placing my feet carefully in each boot-shaped hole, I climbed, hearing only the breath moving in my lungs and the crunch and squeak of the snow in the boot pack. My skis rocked slightly in their straps on my backpack. The sun came and went, warming my back and highlighting my shape on the snow in front of me.

Following the boot-pack back to the top...so we can ski it again.

Following the boot-pack back to the top...so we can ski it again.

It was so good, we did it again. This time taking a slightly different line, to the right, I tore over a small knoll and turned into the funky fall-line, carving in powder that would be over my head if I fell, my head bursting with pleasure with each smooth, soft slice. The snow made a sound like pffoooooo as it exploded under my skis and flew into my face and into my lungs. It’s like breathing in dry diamonds; tiny frozen crystals melting on the walls of my lungs. The four of us climbed back up to the ridgeline and followed it farther out of bounds under the summit of (Mt.) 10-4-20. White snow and glowing sun and black, rocky, mountains overlapped against the inconstant, day-after-the-storm sky like a collage edged in silver. Light snuck through the clouds and dappled its way along the tops of the trees, blessing the evergreens with golden-green halos. I moved down through the aspen trees, twisting and turning and still finding endless, deep, untracked snow, arriving at the run out, where an established ski trail snakes through the flats and the trees, back to civilization. Rushing through the trees with my skis plastered to the trail, I slid around and up the sides of corners like I was on a bobsled track, ducking branches and drafting behind Koogs on his snowboard, dodging and laughing when he tried to trip me up.

Popping out of the trees back into the resort boundaries was like waking up out of a dream. There were so many people, happily churning their way down groomed trails that have already seen a dozen, a hundred other skiers. Their very presence was noisy, and I was stunned to remember that this is where I am usually skiing, and happy to be there. Hours later, I sat in the bar with Jack. We were both smiling, vaguely, as we sipped from our Pabst Blue Ribbon 24oz cans and studied our cards over his caribou-horn cribbage board. I slowly pegged my way to victory, and Jack turned his cards over and sighed, tired, satisfied. “What a day. What a day.” Amen to that. Praise be to Ullr, and praise be to Wasatch Powder.

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