Mountain High 

Hey, there’s a healthy amount of snow on the mountains and that means, you know it, I went snowboarding last weekend. There were about 900 other people at Lost Trail at the same time, and only three lifts serving about 60 percent of the mountain (my estimate, not theirs), which made for the longest lift lines I’ve ever encountered on that good ole mountain. But no one was complaining.

The snow? Glad you asked. Lost Trail Powder Mountain had a healthy 4 feet on the top and a robust 3 feet on the bottom; basically, everything was covered by snow except for the tops of a few trees. The deep stuff was a little heavy and I’ve got the worked-over muscles to prove it, but you couldn’t hardly ask for better in the middle of November. Lost Trail will be open Thursday, Nov. 24, to Sunday, Nov. 27, beginning their regular winter schedule.

Lookout Pass Ski Area is running the same Thursday-to-Sunday schedule as Lost Trail, with about a foot less snow—but you do get to sleep an hour later because of the Pacific Time schedule in Idaho. You’ll have to balance out your options.

In town, Snowbowl is reporting less than a foot of snow at the bottom but a manageable 2 feet up top. They plan to open Friday, Nov. 25, and are recommending that you exercise some caution on the road, like they needed to tell you that.

How’re things down by Bozeman? Big Sky is planning to open Thursday, Nov. 24. They’ve got snow and get different weather patterns so the 22 to 35 inches they’re now reporting could be something more by the time you get down there. Bridger Bowl usually also does well but right now is staying mum.

Finally, up in the Flathead, Big Mountain opened up this past weekend and Mountain High’s Flathead correspondent Paul Peters reports that ski fever has not left the area since last spring. In fact, he reports a good day on the mountain with passable conditions on the terrain—served by two lifts—that’s open. He also reports that they’ll be praying for snow at the Pray for Snow Party to be held beginning at 7 PM in the Beirstube at Big Mountain. Hey, I’ve heard of crazier ways to get what you want from a deity than drinking beer and having a good time; might as well give it a try.

There’s a smattering of events in the area this week to keep you going if you can’t get up the mountain or just don’t care to.

For instance, something called the “Mini Turkey” is on tap for the Thursday, Dec. 1, Starry Night Bike Ride, a mountain-bike trip departing at 6 PM from the parking lot of the Rattlesnake Recreation Area. The connection to turkey seems tenuous since it’s a week after Thanksgiving, but then again, turkey is not just about Thanksgiving. Call 829-1988.

More traditional than nighttime mountain biking is daytime hiking, which is what’s in store when the Rocky Mountaineers head up the Bitterroot Sunday, Nov. 27, to try to reach Mill Point, the north peak of a ridge above the Mill Creek Trail. If conditions permit, the hike will follow the trail for three miles and then go off-trail for one and a half, gaining 4,400 feet of elevation on the way. They promise “if not this, something similar,” by which they mean similarly steep and scrambly. Call 721-3790.

If you like snow but prefer flatter terrain, chances are you cross-country ski. Skis need wax, most of them anyway. On that score, there’s the basics of Nordic ski waxing and then there’s what you’ll learn at the Nordic Wax Clinic being held by Open Road Bicycles and Nordic Equipment at 6 PM Thursday, Dec. 1. If you’re wondering, you’ll learn much more than the basics at the Clinic, including how to tune up your cross-country skis and how to tell a Nordic wax from a Brazilian. Call 549-2453 to get more information.

If you’re looking for a place to cross-country ski, it just got a little cheaper to head to the Crown of the Continent. Glacier National Park is reducing its entry feebeginning Thursday, Dec. 1, because you’re pretty much on your own there during the winter and they want to recognize that fact. Therefore, they’re dropping the price to $10 for a seven-day vehicle entry and $5 for hikers and the like. Don’t plan on all the roads being plowed, but you should be able to get to at least Lake McDonald Lodge and the St. Mary campground on the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Call 888-7800 to contact the Park for further information.

It’s winter, not on the calendar but in spirit. I know so because I haven’t seen the sun since I re-entered the Valley. Therefore, it is time to get out and winter recreate. If you haven’t seen something in Mountain High to suit your interest, try checking out this week’s cover story. There’s bound to be something there to grab you.

Let me know what it is.

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