Friday March 16, 2012
I didn’t get much sleep last night. I was up late and up again early this morning. I grabbed a quick, hot, included continental breakfast and a shower. I threw on my warm clothes and dashed out of the hotel expecting a long, scary drive to Crystal Mountain in Washington State (the place that hates Fonzie). After the weather they have been receiving on Mt. Rainier recently, I assumed my drive would be terrifying. I assumed I would be purposefully driving into what could have been the worst weather of the trip. Off in the horizon there were more ominous clouds taunting me. I felt like that polygamist when he was driving directly into that storm on purpose with Paul Reisers’s wife and Auntie Em’s young niece.
The drive ended up not being as frightening as I expected. I immediately loved everything about where I was. The drive was both beautiful and thrilling. I got parked and changed quickly. It looked like quite a long walk to the base, and then I noticed there was a parking lot shuttle. Their idea of a shuttle was a pick up truck with a flat bed trailer in tow. It was like a hayless hayride. Andy the dog would have loved it here. I went into the shop and asked where I could buy a sticker for my board. The young lady said we don’t sell stickers, but we do give them away. What’s not to love about this place. What a different scene and way of life. There is no mountain village or any of the hoopla that fancy people need. Just pure, amazing riding.
One of the first things I saw when I drove in was there are areas for overnight parking. People would show up the night before and camp out in their car waiting to get first fresh tracks in the morning. What is this, the Bethpage Black course? There were plenty of people who utilized these lots. Cars were covered in mounds of snow. On the far side of the main parking lot there was an area for RV’s with hook ups and everything. Pretty badass. Seemed like the only way to fly.
I got one great run in from the top and my leg was as soar as it has gotten all winter. On the second gondolala ride up something terrible happened. I envisioned an end to the trip, at least to my day. My board fell out of the gondola holding compartment on the side of the car. I didn’t see it happened, but all 4 people facing me gasped and saw it fall to the ground. Luckily nobody was underneath. It plummeted several hundred feet at least. If you zoom in a lot you can see my poor lonely board mostly buried in the snow. There was nothing I could do about it. A nice young lady that I was riding with offered to grab it on her way down and meet me at the base. So I had to ride the gondolala back down like a lonely, solo, boardless loser. I waited at the bottom for a few minutes and a different young kid showed up with it. Thankfully it was intact and no obvious damage. I waited for the other chick and let her know that I got it, thanked her for her efforts, and jumped aboard the next car to the top.
Today I checked off another of my to do list items, another first for me. I did my first ever hike-to riding. I rode the lift to the top of where the lift services and then hiked for a while higher and to the other side of the mountain. Holy shit, it was amazing, breathtaking in more than one way. This was one of the things I said I was going to do before the trip was over, and now I’ve done it. I’m not trying to act like I hiked (almost) to the top of Crested Butte Mountain like Wifey did. It was a good 20+ minute uphill, in ski apparel and boots, carrying my board hike. It was amazing. I have ridden on plenty of fresh untouched powder this season, but nothing that has felt quite like this. It was an entirely new experience and feeling. I don’t think the entire mountain has ever heard of, believes in, or owns grooming machines, definitely not in this area. I videoed the entire trek. I can’t wait to see just how boring I can make it.
After a few hours I had a bite to eat and got back on the road. I didn’t have a destination at the time, but there was only one way to go from the mountain, down and away. Good things I didn’t need to go the other way, because it was not an option. The mountain was the last stop on this road, the rest of this road was closed for the season, impassable. I decided to head back to the Tacoma area and find a cheap hotel. On the drive back I stopped in and got Jiffy Lubed and had a couple more window cracks repaired. I’m good for another 7500 miles.
It might be just because they are new, but I think today produced some of my favorite scenic pictures so far.