Gliding along in silence, immersed in the white and green of a snow covered mountain littered with pine trees, I feel absence of thought, and with it, peace.
Then my absence of thought leads me into the path of one of my companions. Peace ends, collision begins, snowboards cartwheel, and bodies tumble. No one got hurt, but it did wound my pride a little. It kind of blows chunks to bowl over a person you work with and respect as one of the smartest people you’ve ever known, especially while demonstrating your own stupidity.
Oh, well. Someone has to be the village idiot.
It doesn’t matter, the day was magnificent. I hadn’t ridden in at least two years, maybe three, and even before then it had become a sporadic endeavor after our daughter was born. Turns out snowboarding is like riding a bike: you may lose some speed by abandoning the pursuit, but you’ll never forget how.
Most of my snowboarding has taken place at Mt Hood Meadows. It’s got a wide variety of terrain, 11 lifts, and miles and miles of fun. It also has hordes of boards (and skis) strapped to the mobs of people who crowd into place at the base of Mt. Hood Express on weekend mornings, so be forewarned. Get there early, preferably on weekdays. Call in sick, quit your job, whatever. It’s well worth it.
My joyful return to snowboarding this weekend, however, took place elsewhere, in perhaps one of the most well known ski resorts in the universe: Timberline, home of Timberline Lodge and the Palmer glacier, famous worldwide for accommodating skiers and snowboarders well into the summer.
Timberline is smaller than Meadows, but it possesses great beauty and its own miles of smiles. One of the top runs for sheer enjoyment and seemingly endless open terrain is Magic Mile, which starts you at the base of Palmer and dumps you back out at the lodge again. Unfortunately, it also tends to be closed a lot, due to wind and visibility conditions.
Still, Stormin’ Norman gets you halfway up the elevation of the Mile, and if you follow the run down and across over to Kruser, by the time you reach the Jeff Flood Still Creek lift at the bottom, you’ve probably covered a couple of miles. Good enough to keep you flowing at speed for awhile.
When I was a kid, I was a skateboarding fanatic, although my enthusiasm always vastly exceeded my skills. I pored over SkateBoarder magazine religiously, used any open gutter I could find as an opportunity to steal a grind, and felt overwhelmed by my one trip to a genuine skateboard park in Kennewick, Wa, resplendent with its concrete halfpipe and honest to goodness pool, complete with coping and everything.
Later in life, I rollerbladed, and enjoyed that too. I’ll freely admit now that it’s a bit of a silly looking endeavor, but it can be a lot of fun. Like skateboarding, it’s probably best left to the younger crowd. Concrete hurts exponentially more as you age.
Now I cycle, and on a good day, when I’m fit, climbing a hill at a steady pace with the legs working and the lungs comfortably keeping pace, it brings a type of satisfaction I can’t compare to any other physical activity.
Snowboarding tops them all. It is unequaled in its ability to calm the mind and make a person feel like all is well in the world. If a sporting activity can’t make all your earthly concerns appear insignificant, it probably isn’t worth doing.