I know, I know. Winter is over. On sunny days like this though, I can’t seem to stop thinking about winter adventures. See for me, summer is my working season. I can barely find the time to leave my computer screen, let alone go on a hike or make it to a happy hour with friends. With that season rapidly approaching, I’ve been trying to savor every last bit of free time I have. Taking a walk through the neighborhood, going on a weekend bike ride, whatever I can fit in before my time is taken up by editing, shooting, traveling, answering emails, uploading photos, writing blogs, connecting with vendors, and all of the other wonderful things that my job entails. Don’t get me wrong, I love it, but like everyone else, I do savor my days off.
This winter, in fact, was terrible. And winter the time that I usually look forward to the most. It’s pretty depressing to see snow levels the way they are. Cherry blossoms were blooming in February, it was raining instead of snowing in January at Crystal Mountain, and I can only imagine how it’s going to impact the wildfires this summer. That being said, I do think it’s funny when people look at me cross-eyed after I tell them I went snowboarding in April. Yes, it was bad, but it doesn’t mean there was NO snow! When you spent five years of your life living in a ski town, sliding down snow simply becomes a way of life. With ski resorts having sub-par conditions for most of the end of winter this year, I found that it was absolutely necessary to go hunting for powder in other ways. Enter Jeff and Kelly Steele. Basically I met these two through Instagram. Sounds crazy, but a mutual friend commented on some of Jeff’s photos and I realized he had a wife that was a splitboarder. I’ve been desperately hoping to find a lady friend to splitboard with in Washington. Not that I don’t like going with only boys, or girl skiers for that matter, it’s just different to have another female around that is doing the same thing you are. I recognized Jeff on a particularly poor weather day up at Crystal this year. We were all lamenting the bad weather over beers at the Snorting Elk. It seemed like the best way to spend the day at the time. We got to talking and planned our first trip up to Paradise on Mt. Rainier.
Our first experience was probably one of the best days I’ve EVER had snowboarding. We only took a couple of lines but the powder was totally incredible that day. It had snowed about a foot and the trees looked like tasty marshmallow-ice cream cones against a brilliant blue sky. Really I couldn’t think of anywhere else I wanted to be at the time! The next time we went up was just a few weeks ago in April. Visibility was nearly nothing with the fog and clouds as we were skinning up. Barely being able to see, we decided to stay low on the mountain and dropped into a skinny little chute that Jeff and Kelly named “Happy New Year Chute”. All of us were completely shocked that the snow was so good. And it was April! After that it warmed up into some pretty sticky snow but the companionship and the feeling of being out in the mountains made for a pretty amazing day.
I have to say, I’m pretty stoked to have met these two. I love having Kelly around to tell me “You can do it!” as I’m struggling up a slippery kick-turn or to high five after an amazing line. There’s just something different about the energy that girls bring to the table when they snowboard together and I have really missed is since leaving Jackson Hole. I can’t wait to see what other memories and stories we can all create together, no matter what Mother Nature decides to hand us next season. Cheers to wonderful days in the mountains.