At 5:00am on a Thursday morning I could here the rumble of Brit’s diesel Ford out in the driveway. Montana had been getting hammered with snow and he convinced me to skip out on work and make the trip with he and Jed, out of town the next day. We were headed for Lost Trail, a small, Mom and Pop, ski hill with five, old, lifts, a few rope toes, to get you in between, and only a couple hundred feet of vert to ski; but, wedged into this small family ski hill was an abundance of cliff bands that would make any skier go crazy and steep turns you would never have imagined were there, pulling into the lot for the first time. What really makes Lost Trail special though, is that they’re only open Thursday through Sunday; they had gotten three feet of snow since the previous Sunday closure.
Dane was off for the day and stumbled out the door with me, arms racked with gear, only to see an unexpected face; Paul Neuman had been wrangled in late the night before and proved to be a great addition, considering we would end up spending eight hours shoulder to shoulder in the back of Brit’s truck that day. The temperatures were sub-zero, we loaded up quickly and piled in; a quick stop down the road to grab Jed and we took off towards Butte.
After a quick break for breakfast in Butte, we headed back out for the last two hours on the road. A quiet, winding road, dressed in snow and ice led us along the river and through expansive ranch land. We watched the thermometer jump tirelessly back and forth across 0°F until we turned the corner into Lost Trail; only to find the secret had gotten out. At 9:30am the lot was stuffed, gear was flying out of cars as everyone hustled for a better spot in line; Brit, Jed and Paul had all spent a solid amount of time at Lost Trail over the last two decades and none of them had ever seen the small hill so overrun.
Despite the powder panic, we shuffled down into line at Chair 2, which actually lies in Idaho, and loaded up the old double. Our first run was a cool shot through the trees and then on over to the legendary, Chair 4.
It seemed like the longest chair I had ever been on and with the temperatures below 10°F and a good breeze; Chair 4 was giving Mad River’s Single Chair a strong fight for the coldest lift I had ever been on. But we didn’t go up to come back empty handed. The Montanans knew where to go and Dane and I kicked off, skating in there dust. A quick step uphill and we crested a pitch littered with lines all in the high 30° low 40° range and perfectly undisturbed. Bouncing with excitement and necessity, to keep the blood flowing, we picked out everyone’s lines and I found myself a place to shoot from below.
Jed Donnelly went far right and found a long string of turns that could have gone down as a Top 5 run in anyone’s book.
Brit Barnes waking up after a long morning behind the wheel.
On the second pitch, we struck more gold. A slightly calmer pitch with giant Pines placed about and a cliff band stuffed in between that got everyone fired up.
After bombing through the trees, Brit pulled up next to me, gave one look at what Jed was standing on top of and said “Oh, you’re about to see something cool.” I could tell Jed was stepping something out, but after meeting him the previous season, while he was getting back on skis from a broken leg, I didn’t think he was going to go too large on the first real pow day of the season; I was wrong.
The flip came around and the Jedi put it right to his feet, engulfing himself in a bomb of smoke. Everyone started cheering, as we all witnessed the Return of the Jedi.
Chair 4 broke down, we stood in a long cold line waiting for Chair 3 to get running so they could get us all back to the base. We ran into some Big Sky friends and agreed to follow Brit off into the woods for our next run, with the hope of finding a service road and some unreal skiing.
Ten minutes into to the boot pack, we had only made it a few hundred yards, as we took turns humping our way through the wait deep snow pack. Without fail we found the road and the zone; there aren’t too many words to describe what happened next.
Dane Weister at full speed...there was that much snow.
Paul Neuman staring it down.
The Jedi pillow poppin'
Normally the idea of driving eight hours for five runs of skiing would keep me in bed, but our day at Lost Trail was unlike any other. The snow was all time, definitely one of the deepest days of my life and as memorable as those turns were, what made the day so unique was getting those pristine, first tracks all day with a powder hungry mob fighting for the same.
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Big thanks to Snowta, www.snowta.com and SnoCru, www.snocru.com for getting us there!
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