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Seasons salutations

It’s a good weekend when you can say that you went both mountain biking and snowboarding. But that’s just how we shred in Western Washington. That is, when it decides only to mist one day in the lower elevations, and then dump pounds of snowflakes in the higher-ups, the next. After taking what might have been my last ride of the season on the SX Trail at Tokul with Billy and crew, I made a solo mission up to Snoqualmie Central on Sunday to slash my first tracks of the snow season.

The Cascades have been pummeled with storms for weeks now: Baker has a 100-inch base; Snoqualmie’s is growing at 42 inches. And Alpental opens Friday! It’s a special bond you share with a mountain. Anyone who’s spent time exploring the intricacies of a mountain’s form–the pleasing surface aspects, the stimulating surprises and intoxicating secrets–knows the intimate connection one can feel with their home hill, Alpental being mine.

Northwest cement–thick, wet and heavy pow. I forgot how hard it works the legs, the entire body. The moisture laden atmosphere seeped into the mountain on Sunday. The trees heaved under their white burdens. The packed powder on the runs captured up passers-by with sticky mockery. The Northwest rider is a unique one: unspoiled by sunshine or champagne pow; hardened by the cold; and stoked to shred in blizzard conditions…What?

With flat light and very low visibility, my first run took me through a steep channel of high moguls, sweetened by some soft pow in the trees and then slick fast groomers down to the new Silver Fur quad. Amid the slight chaos, I fell in love all over again with my sport.

Ghostly shapes marked the scene that afternoon–a haunting preview of snowboarding in this region. It was as if these conditions lay like a veil between this unusually early season snow and the riders who ventured to explore it, and the rest of the winter with its fair-weather patrons. The intensity was beautiful and engulfing.

Twas a weekend of woods, tracks, trails and pow–all in raw Northwest fashion. My passions were obliged…for the moment.

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