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First Tracks of the season: Crystal Mountain hike fest

First tracks of the season, regardless of the terrain or conditions, are always good. Period. Feeling the legs make those first turns. Point it down the hill, then: heel carve, toe carve, big ol’ S-turn, carve up a bank, sail back down, jump off the side of the hip, smack on the thin landing, point it again and keep cruising, all the way to the bottom. It’s getting your balance back. Sending the blood flooding and that tingly feeling surging through the veins.

God, those are good feelings. Now add in that typical ambitious hike to freshies to really get the goods, and first-day-of-the-season is in the books!

Tyler, Allison and I got ours at Crystal on Sunday (Saturday was devoted to cheering on Billy at 4x mtb racing). Despite the thin coverage and limited operations, we got some, maybe enough, to quell first-day hungers. But it triggered that switch in the brain that makes it an addict, craving those feelings until the board can touch snow again.

Tyler and I hiked nearly to the ridge of the mountain above the bowls on the front side. Lots of folks had this in mind. But instead of going across to the tracked-out stuff, as they were, we went straight up. Up there, from our roosts in snow couches, we looked down on a cascading curtain of white, a steep blanket of soft powder. We paused for a moment to take in the scenery—the ghostly image of the lifts far below, the contours of the mountain flanks surrounding us.

Then it was time to go: Tyler hopped up and in a split second, pointed it and straight-lined it down through all that fluffy white gold. No need to start his party off with S-turns. How far he made it without throwing in a carve, I don’t know; I didn’t watch because I was dropping in myself. But I wasn’t going to waste all that powder on a two-second bomb down the hill to the thin stuff again.

No, I threw in those S-turns, ribboning my way down through glorious face-shots, casting rooster tails, and feeling that weightless floating sensation. Seven, maybe 10, seconds of pure unadulterated awesomeness.

But that’s what it’s all for: getting some. Isn’t that what’s it’s been for since the beginning of… it all? Pick your partner (I choose Pow) and just go: Get. Some.

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