The day is Wednesday, November 27th, the day before thanksgiving. A holiday that most skiers never get to fully enjoy with their families and friends because we are always in some remote part of the country trying to find that first snow and get in some good racing before the peak of the season. The idea of missing out on a mound of juicy turkey and piles of delicious pie may sound bleak to many of you but we skiers persevere by getting to ski on fabulous trails such as the ones in West Yellowstone. The conditions out here are nothing less than perfect. The weather has been in our favor all week with temperatures in the 20s and 30s and blue bird skies.
There is little more that a skier could ask for. With this being said, there is one thing that gets under my skin when I am out enjoying these perfect conditions…… The MASSIVE hoards of people all over the trail. Like moth to a flame it seems as if every able body who knows how to ski has assembled on the trails here in West Yellowstone. When you do find yourself alone on the trails, it is a moment of sheer bliss…..but a short moment.
A rare glimpse of an empty ski trail out in the wild
The masses seem to be growing exponentially with each day. Today in particular due to the fact that there was a Biathlon race this morning.
Hoards of people skiing around and cheering for the biathlon race this morning.
I know it is too much to ask for to have perfect ski trails all to myself so I have come up with a few important rules to follow while skiing in order to avoid potentially lethal collisions with these wild packs of skiers.
1.Ski with a group of the biggest men you can find. For example we have 4 men on our team who are over 6 feet tall. This is a good start. Most people we play chicken with out on the trails eventually get out of the way….Unless maybe when Skyler (Big Baby) Davis comes barreling down the trails at us.
2.Ski with purpose. I have found that most people get out of the way if you are skiing with some kind of purpose or right of way. For example it is widely known that a skier who is doing intervals has the right of way over someone who is just cruising around aimlessly. This fact can be used to our benefit.
3.Ski with direction. Everyone knows the gut-wrenching feeling of speeding towards a person in the same track and you both instinctively step out of the way of the other person…..but wait you both stepped out on the right!!!! noooo……..awkward crash with stranger. This is why you need to ski with purpose and authority. Make your decisions clear.
4.Make loud noises when you ski. This may sound bizarre but it is the only way you can tell is a person is cruising around that same blind corner that you are.
5.Always have an escape plan. There is always going to be that massive group of skiers standing in the middle of the trail over a blind downhill. You must be ready.
Standing in the trail like a bunch of jabronies. We had to stop in this circumstance because Pat was having trouble keeping up with Pete and I….naturally
As I make this list, I am slowly realizing that most of these correspond with how you should act when encountering a wild animal. Which is fitting because we are only minutes from the entrance to Yellowstone Park. So I guess my final words of advice would be to treat mobs of skiers like you would a bear…..an angry, hungry bear that wants to viciously maul you and eat you alive.
Signing off for now…..I hope this will not be my last post.