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I passed the snowboarder at the exit ramp to Flagstaff. He was trudging down the piles of snow on the opposite side of the street. You couldn’t hitch here with the two lanes of traffic. It was going to be a long walk.
Hell, I was already late to the mountain, two days to be precise, a 150 car pileup stopping me from the biggest storm of the season. So I swung around and grabbed the kid. He was about twenty and had missed the day before as well. Turns out he tried to drive his car up to Snowbowl, got stuck, and yelled thoroughly by the parking lot attendants for attempting to bring his car up to the Bowl without chains or four wheel drive.
“I decided not to drive today,” he told me. Wise words from the kid.
Arizona Snowbowl sits twelve or so miles outside of Flagstaff. With a sizeable university and the closest riding to Phoenix, it gets slammed on the weekends…or say the Friday before New Year’s Weekend. I had heard the rumors that officials close down the entrance when the ski area reaches capacity. I just didn’t think it would happen to me.
“Yeah, we’re all closed up. Too many people,” the attendant told me crushing my dreams of starting the season on a three foot dump. “Unless you have a season pass.”
“I do,” my hitcher suddenly said, waving his papers. The guard nodded, waved us through the checkpoint and I was on my way.
The good fortune didn’t end there. Arizona had been hit walloped with a storm. Two feet the day before and a wonderful ten inches overnight. Plus, the free ticket in my pocket and we had the makings for a kick ass start to the season.
For two years, I’ve stared at the trees underneath the Agassiz Chair and each year wondered what those tracked out bumpy pines would like covered with powder. Well, wonder no more. But c’mon, it’s the first run of the season. There’s not even a decent base so it’s just bottomless snow with trees and branches waiting to take you out. It’s just plain ill advised.
Three feet of snow. And like always, caution gets tossed to the curb.
What a way to start the season. Hello winter, I’ve missed you.