The human psyche goes through some sort of primal transformation on the morning of a powder day. As one who has never been very good at following a minute by minute schedule, I feel like there is an egg timer going off in my head reminding me of every move required to get out the door. When it's a storm cycle like we've been having lately, I start this transformation the night before. Make sure my pass is in my pocket of the pants I am going to wear (this is always #1 for me, as the results are catastrophic if this is overlooked). I fire up Big Orange and clear the driveway at night one last time to make it easier in the morning. Big Orange eats pow for dinner, then has leftovers for breakfast. When the Powder Alarm from the Ski Utah iPhone App goes off, my neck snaps up, rather than reaching for the snooze button who knows how many times.
I get tunnel vision. Nothing gets in my way. I start making outrageous calculations in my brain anticipating every move. Which way to drive to the mountain to avoid traffic. Which turn to take to the resort parking lot so I can park in the primo spot. Which buckles of my boots to buckle and which to leave dangling so I can shuffle double-time through the parking lot and up the stairs a little bit smoother. When I get in line to be among the first to ride when the chair starts loading, I can sense that others have gone through this same sort of heightened mania. Today at Park City Mountain Resort, while standing in a crowd of 30 or so others who were all radiating the same kind of animal energy, I realized how selfish we were all being.
As it turns out, no matter what sort of deity you believe in, it's pretty easy to thank the heavens for all this snow we have been getting the last few days. It's much harder to stop and thank the people who work at the resorts who are going through their own sort of heightened consciousness, but they don't get to make the turns. They are up early, going through their own scripts so that all of us with tunnel vision can have our powder day. I heard more people bitching in 20 minutes than I can remember for a long time, before that first chair was even loaded. Complaining because the lift attendants asked you to move so they could put up their ropes and stakes for the lift maze. Complaining because you paid good money for Fast Tracks, but those dingleberries who showed up after you somehow shot to the front of the line and might make it up one or two chairs sooner. They better not get on before you or else. Or else what?
I had a real reason for anxiety today; while everyone else's pass was getting scanned and emitting a happy beep, my Silver Pass was making a sound like an alien space craft crashing into the Nevada desert. What the? That's all I could say to Lauren from Arizona (if that was her real name on her nametag). All I could think of was there's no way I'm giving up my spot in this line or subjecting myself to the jeers of all the Johnny-Come-Latelys behind. Lauren was a problem solver. She took my pass and sprinted down the hill to the Season Pass office and returned before the first chair was loaded. She didn't have to do that.
One thing resonated as I made lap after lap on Pioneer while waiting for the Jupe rope drop; we ought to do a better job of being nice to resort employees. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter how many inches we get on powder days, without these folks doing what they do all season long, we'd all be hiking.