I quit my job last February. Specifically, I quit one because I had found another. It was just time to move on. In any event, I had a few days to myself in between the old and the new, and thought I would treat myself to a mid-week day at 49 Degrees North, which, when done at just the right time, can be absolutely amazing. One week prior, I began watching the weather a little more closely. Sure enough, the snow gods smiled on me. Over two feet of snow fell on Sunday and Monday, with temperatures in the low twenties. The day looked like it would be one of those that only occur a few times a season.
I rolled out of bed well before sunrise on the final day of February and was greeted by crystal clear skies and chilly temperatures in the high teens. Checking the snow report, I grinned when I saw that the mountain had received nearly another foot of new snow since the day before. I ate, quickly threw my gear in the car, and made my way north. As I began winding my way up the mountain from Chewelah, the sheer amount of new snow became apparent. Snow was piled high on both sides of the road where the plow had been, and the trees were absolutely loaded with white magic. I arrived at the lodge a good half hour prior to opening, but the diehards were already there and lined up at the bottom of the Chair #1.
I usually take a warm up run on the groomed, but not on this day. I made my first run down one of my secret spots off of Silver Ridge, and was rewarded with a wide-open, untracked powder field. The snow was deep and dry enough that it billowed over my head. I don’t think I had experienced snow like that in several years, and the feeling was absolutely overwhelming. One run down, and I had already forgotten about my old job and the stress that came with it. It’s amazing what one powder run can do to the soul.
I spent the rest of the morning making untracked loops in Cy’s Glades, and hardly saw another soul. Skiing untouched snow through trees by yourself is one of those special rewards you get when you go up midweek. All you hear is the sound of your skis and your own whooping. I admit I laughed like a little kid on every run I made. It just never gets old.
Right before noon, I ran into a friend of mine and made a few more untracked runs with him. Even though the accepted rule is “There are no friends on powder days,” I still enjoyed sharing the sheer awesomeness of the day. After a couple more runs, my legs were starting to feel the burn. I knew then it was time to make my way to the Boomtown Bar, where a cold adult beverage was waiting for me. As I walked into the lodge, I took one last glance up towards the summit and smiled. This was one of those days— a perfect powder day that lingers in your memory until the next one comes along. //
Brad Northrup is an avid skier, fly fisherman, and mountain climber. He has been a contributing writer for Out There since 2011.
SPONSORED BY Ski the NW Rockies
Originally printed in the March 2017 print edition of Out There Outdoors under the title “Flashback: A Foot of Fresh at 49.”
Feature photo: Elbow deep in powder. // Aaron Theisen