Lunar Love

Backcountry skiing under the full moon.

by Tavis Campbell, illustration by Ryan Krueger

The pale moon lights up the blanket of sparkling snow in my front yard. I pull up the suspenders of my ski pants and zip my jacket. It feels funny to put on ski gear at 7:30 pm. The look on my neighbor's face is priceless as I dump all my gear into the truck.

"Are you going skiing?" he asks.

I nod my head. He looks at me like I'm a lunatic, but I could care less. He doesn't understand my addiction.

moonlight ski

I rendezvous with my partners on a cold dark road deep in the dense lodgepole forest. The hoar frost gleams in the headlights like pixie dust. The moon pokes through the puffy gray matter above and shines on the four dogs running rampant through the powder.

Skinning our way up the logging road, we pass untouched fields of fluff, silently wishing they too could be tracked. But there isn't enough time to ski them all. We’re focusing on an open meadow 1,000 feet above.

Idle talk fills the skin track.

The twist of a beer cap signifies the top of the meadow. My buddy brought along some beverages to complement the night. We sit quietly as the peaks seem to fade into the distance. A few renegade flakes flash in front of my halogen light.

moonlight ski

Silent turns in surprisingly good snow bring forth subtle cackles in the dark. There is nowhere else I’d rather be. My trusty mutt follows closely. I slide to a stop at the bottom of the meadow and watch her. Her head bobs just above the snow as she whines with excitement.

I cut into patches of soft on the way down the road, turning cautiously so as to not catch an unforeseen stump or buried log. Descending into the depths of the forest, we shoot off into the lower meadow. Wisps of snow float behind us as we make perfect turns down to the truck.

The contrast of black bark on snow is etched into my mind as my head hits the pillow.

Tavis Campbell is the author of Stepping Up, A Guide to the Ridge at Bridger Bowl. Read it at

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