Snow Day

It was a snow day! In Idaho when someone asks you if you want to go into the back country on a snowmobile you just have to say yes!

It took us a bit to get on the road but as we headed up 55 towards Cascade, the clouds were parting and the temp was falling. The conditions were getting better by the minute. It was soggy and raining at Cougar Mountain so we decided to motor Stan�s big truck up to the west mountain side of Cascade Lake. Turned out to be the right decision. It was misting lightly in the parking lot, but as soon as we headed up the into mountains it stopped. As Stan and Vince powered through the virgin powder, Laura and I got our bearings and rolled upward. The view over Cascade Lake proved a mere preview to the day's vistas.

Snow machines are fun when they turn! Not so much when they don�t! This was the first lesson of the day for me. At the warming shed area I decided to miss the tree and ended up falling off and burying the snowmobile they call "Moby Dick."(�When it goes down it stays down,� Laura told me.) Since I needed lots of help I was now the not so proud owner of the Skunk. The skunk is the �prize� of person who got stuck last. Needless to say the damn skunk and I got to be good friends.

It�s all about power, balance, and timing on a snow sled. Vince and Stan danced and twirled back and forth, shifting there weight and anticipating turns to avoid getting stuck. It was amazing to see these pros rip up the mountains. Each trying to best the other. That was until Stan hit a dip flew over the handle bars and found himself with the coveted skunk! Not to be outdone, our most expert of riders Vince acquired the prize soon after by sticking the nose of his machine into a drift. Laura mostly stayed out of trouble and was skunk free. Me? Well I'll get to the that later.

As afternoon faded into to evening, I got braver and tried some climbing and meadow dancing of my own. The power of these machines is amazing. The skill it takes to maneuver successfully around the valley mountains and trees is a combination of balance and dexterity. Think skiing, motocross and world wide wrestling combined into one. The skunk and I reacquainted after I fell off on a climb. For the remainder of the the day I narrowly avoided smashing into any trees.
We headed back down as the sun was setting. The snow glowed gold as the sky darkened. The headlights of the sleds cast a lonely beam as we turned for home. Stan, Laura and Vince were kind enough to let me capture a wild wilderness sunset.

Margaritas were on Laura�s mind and that sounded good to us all.

Speed, is the thing. "Vince is a wild man!� says Stan. Me, well my momma always told me, �I was too stupid to be afraid.� That is why I tried to keep up with Vin as he flew south to the truck. These machine can travel at speeds not street legal in any state except Nevada and Montana. As Vince�s taillights faded, I tried to overcome talent with a pure lack of sense. Disaster loomed. At first I kept up. It was a rollercoaster ride down. The sleds slid, flew and bounced as we braked into the corners and then gassed out. My legs groaned coming up off my seat and while leaning into the hairpin corners. Vince kindly stopped at a wide spot and seemed surprised that I caught up so soon. It looked as if the skunk was going to stay where it started, with Stan. However, fate was not so kind.

We were almost back to the trailer, a couple of miles or so to go. We let Stan and Laura head out before us so Vince and I could race the rest of the way. Vince�s big new sled flashed away as Moby Dick and I tried to follow. For a bit we could see Vin�s taillight at each straight away. It was taking all of my limited skill to even keep his lights in sight. It was fun to be flying so, so fast. The evergreens whizzed by like a picket fence. Moby the whale turned into a stallion of a snowmobile and was galloping over the snow.

It was Vince who knew I was in trouble before I did. �I was flashing my taillights to let you know the corner was tight.� Didn�t see em. �I saw your sled careening off and into the bushes. The headlight tilted and then just went out.� As Vince turned and raced back, I did the old, well am I alive thing. Yes, I�m breathing. Under the full weight of the machine my foot was caught, but only my pride was hurt. Amazing because the snowmobile was on its side and well into the bushes. With Vince�s expert help, and a long rope, we pulled and tugged Moby back to the road.

The skunk was mine. Still alive and now very tired, I headed to the truck to load up. We motored into Horseshoe Bend where I gladly bought the first round!