First Tracks

Ryan Krueger's picture
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Waiting for SnowThe first snowfall of the season is the greatest. That fall feeling is in the air as the flurries begin to come down from the sky and coat the ground for the first time. The entire town seems to feel different. I find myself watching the radar and checking the weather constantly throughout the day, anxiously watching the snow outside. While some people are inside their homes mourning the potential loss of another season, my mind goes elsewhere. All I can think about is early season skiing. I pace around the house after work and watch the weather go from rain to snow to rain again and snow once more. In Bozeman, the precipitation seems wet and rather lacking. But to anyone who considers themselves a skier, they know that this day-long mix of rain and snow probably means a decent snowstorm at higher elevations. A phone call to a couple friends confirms my ambitions. Tomorrow will be the day.

Each of us with our specific time constraints, we decide that we might as well do this right and go after a good old-fashioned dawn patrol to start the season. So we did just that. As the 5:30am alarm went off, followed by the other 5:30am alarm (you can’t be to careful) I woke up, put on my ski gear, made a plate sized pancake and climbed into the car. As I sipped my coffee on the way out of Bozeman and up the canyon it seemed as though we had made a giant mistake. The ground in Bozeman was empty and fairly dry, and the accumulation that we noticed on the way up was hardly more than a dusting. I had to keep telling myself that this would all be worth it but I wasn’t quite sure that I believed it. Too late now, we will ski with or without snow.

With rock skis on our backs we took off on foot up the mountain. As the hike progressed and the ascent began to get steeper, the snow got deeper. What started out as a few inches in the parking lot had morphed into a knee-deep Early Season Skiingposthole with each step. As we neared the top, the clouds began to open up and the snow-covered bangtails showed themselves, it felt good to be back. We clicked into our skis and headed down. The skiing was not amazing, marginal at best. But mixed in with the rocks and grass of early season skiing were a couple great powder turns. And that is all we were looking for today. Somewhere to get out and lay down that first set of tracks. On my bike ride to work in the morning after getting back into town, with a chill still in the air, I realized that I could now relax and enjoy the rest of my fall in Bozeman having logged at least one ski day.
Early Season Skiing

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