Opinion » Maxed Out

Maxed Out

Release the hounds

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It looked a bit like those grainy, archival pictures of the Oklahoma land rush. A bunch of desperate looking people lined up waiting for the starting gun to fire, sizing up the other anxious seekers around them, looking for weaknesses they could exploit to their own advantage and taking the measure of stronger people with even more fire in their eyes than they had themselves, people who would have to be fooled rather than raced outright.

They waited in the cold darkness of false dawn, some in the shelter of an overhanging roofline, most exposed to the elements. The cold and damp were easier to ignore than the interminable wait, the speculation on which swath of land would yield the greatest riches and which would disappoint.

They carried the tools needed to deal with whatever the land and nature would throw at them. Everything required to move quickly, sustain life and barter for goods they couldn’t stuff in their pockets, hang on their backs or around their necks was carefully, or perhaps haphazardly, stowed away in safe places. Too late now to run through the mental checklist one more time; anything forgotten would have to be improvised, done without, borrowed or bought if that was even possible.

When the doors opened and the lifts started turning, they all made their move in a semicontrolled, loosely choreographed pandemonium.

Opening day. Here at last.

By the time I got up the mountain, two days later, the snowiest November in recent memory had rejuvenated the landscape trashed by the opening day land rush and insulted by Sunday’s unfortunate reminder of just how fickle Pacific storms can be. It was a good first day… but not a great day.

The next day was a great day. Four days into the season, Tuesday marked the early retirement of rock skis 2006. Bring out the good boards mama, there’s snow on them thar hills.

Having once said there was too much snow — and doomed this town to suffer a three-week drought — I shall never utter those words again. In fact, I startled someone on a chairlift by stuffing a snowy glove in their face as they started to say those words. Sorry. I know it was impossible to get through some runs you can usually scoot down at high speed. I feel your pain, having chosen to plow deep fields with a snowboard that seemed like a sea anchor instead of fat, floaty skis. But the problem, which isn’t really a problem at all, wasn’t too much of what we need and want a great deal more of, it was a problem of too little pitch. With only the lower mountain opened, there just weren’t enough places steep enough to render the copious amount of snow easily passable. This shall pass; patience, Grasshopper.

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