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The snow covered mountains, are a scene of unmatched beauty. I especially loved waking to a fresh snowfall, that seemed to blanket everything around in a clean fresh covering of white. The feeling of a fresh start, or perhaps a new beginning. As if Mother Nature is giving all of her creations a chance to start anew. The billowy comfort of a natural blanket to protect and hide all. Protection from the cold ravages of winters grip.
I treasure the memories of mornings waking to find, fresh, light, waist deep powder. I loved these days more than any other. I enjoyed going out and walking around making new trails through the snow, reveling in the silence. The feeling of the the powder brushing around my pant legs as I walk along. The texture of the soft powdery snow, so light, fragile, and wet. The crisp, clean and clear air, always common after a fresh snowfall. The simple pleasures and beauty of winters wonder.
Those days always brought back memories of the weekends spent at Indian Mountain, a private ski area in a Local subdivision. My father designed and built it on a central hill, for the home owners association. We ran it on weekends, each of us assigned a task or job. Kel, the ski instructor, Tinaliegh ran the concession stand, Toad (we called him that all the time) and I, the lift shacks, Dad ran the lift and handled all ski patrol duties. The primary lift was an old Poma lift, where you road a pole with a disk seat on the base, by placing it between your legs, and letting it pull you up the hill. There were two lift shacks other than the main one at the base, midway and the upper shack. My brother and I would trade off between the two shacks, watching for skiers who fell and got hung up, or just failed to let go. If this happened we had a kill switch we could use to stop the lift. At the midway spot you could turn your skis sideways, and create some resistance. Then at just the right time, you straighten out and be launched over the midway offload platform. Toad and I would have competitions to see who could get the most air. If you were real courageous, you could ride it back down down, dangling about 50 feet or so off the ground. I can remember Dad just about having a fit, seeing me hanging up there skis dangling, grinning from ear to ear. There was also a small rope tow for the kiddy hill, seldom used in my memory.
We had plenty of opportunity to ski also. Dad taught me to ski there, when I was just three years old. Holding me between his legs as he put his ski’s in a wedge to “snowplow” and show me how to turn and navigate the slopes. By the time I was 10, I was skiing pretty darn good, and had been running a lift shack for about 3 years. There were five primary runs, but I can’t remember the names of them. I’m sure Kel will have them tucked away in her memory banks, she painted the map of the ski area on a four foot by four foot piece of plywood. We had the run of the place, and knew every nook and cranny. Toad and I had forts all over the mountain, and would spend hours playing Cowboys and Indians or war games.
There was a lot of work too, but Dad always made it feel more like fun. Many times, we would have to shovel snow out of the trees, and drag it on a sled out to the slopes to cover bare spots. Many a snowball fight was started during these times. There were long nights packing the snow using snowmobiles, because the snow cat would uncover more dirt. Dad would tie inner tubes behind the snowmobiles, and drag us around while he packed the snow. He seemed to get a distinct pleasure out of running over small aspen trees and willows so they would slap up through the center of the tube, smacking us in the rear. That ski area was his pride and joy, and took more hours of his time than we ever knew.
The ride out there was just as much fun as the rest of it. All four of us crammed into the cab of Sheasta, dad driving. Singing along to songs on the radio like Sneaky Snake, Guitarzan, Phantom 409, Teddy Bare, and so many others. The never ending riddle of Sheasta, the intrepid faithful old yellow Chevy, “She has ta have gas, She has ta have water, She has ta have oil”. Of course there was a litany of other completely ridiculous things “She has ta have” created by our childish minds. Dad sitting back with that devilish grin of his enjoying the silly thoughts of his kids. That old truck plays such a prominent role in many of my childhood memories.
The ski area is no longer there. Houses have been built on the back bowls, and a Frisbee-golf course set up on the front slopes. The lodge is still there, used as a community center for meeting and gatherings now. The old lifts are long gone, the only remnants being the huge concrete bases of the support towers. The memories however are fresh, and will continue to thrive in my conscious. I will forever remember the love and companionship of my father and siblings from those wonderful, snow filled, fun, days.