Today was a beautiful day in the valley—54 degrees and clear skies, t-shirt weather. It felt like spring. And yet, I couldn’t fully enjoy it. With spring comes the end of winter, and with the end of winter comes the end of ski season. I have just started getting my ski legs under me, and I’m not ready to give the season up just yet.
Fortunately, I do live in Montana, and there is the hope (some say the certainty) that the snow above the valley will remain for another month or two. But with the winter that we’ve had, worry haunts the edges of my mind. I really like skiing, more and more each time I go out.
Learning to ski has begun the accomplishment of a life goal. When I hiked two summers in the park, I felt drawn to finding those same places apart from summer’s verdancy. I knew that the experience was incomplete, separate from the other nine months of the year. I once wished that I could ski in to Snyder Lake under eight feet of snow. I am not there yet, but I have begun.
Honestly, I’m less interested in going fast down a mountain. It is fun, though artificial. What I am interested in is traveling through backcountry in January and February. I’m interested in visiting places made new by winter snow. I’m interested in movement and rhythm.
On Thursday, a friend and I took the Quarter Circle Bridge Road to the trailhead of Apgar Lookout. The snow was sticky, and at times it felt like we were skiing through wet clay. Simply making it to the trailhead felt like a victory, much less making it all the way to the lookout. Even so, it was beautiful. I had never taken the time before to absorb the beauty of the road as it wandered along the river and through forest. On days like these, I learn what makes the park into the park those three or four other months out of the year. It’s not the backcountry, but still, I’m learning.
Besides, I plan on making it to the lookout before the season ends. I’ll be praying for a March blizzard until I do.