Town folks are complaining, "When will we be finished with shoveling all this snow? When will spring really arrive?" Spring in Red Lodge lasts into June with heavy snowstorms and killing frosts. In the last thaw, our tulips poked up. Now they're under a snowbank.
We took a road trip to visit friends and ski three other Montana areas, two of them for the first time. Our Red Lodge Mountain passes gave us half-day prices. We left early on the 18-inch powder day for that other area known for powder. They had only 8 inches. We enjoyed exploring new runs and seeing new views. However, there's no place like home. Red Lodge Mountain has the best snow. We also have the best french fries, hot, not greasy, crunchy on the outside, fluffy on the inside. After thorough testing, none of the others came close.
Spring skiing--from blizzard to blue bird, powder to packed, ice to corn to slush. It's a game of rock-paper-scissors. On a late March morning, when hoarfrost rimed the lilacs, our wind sock twisted and flapped in all directions, and fog settled below both benches, Red Lodge Mountain was above the clouds, warm and windless.
Spring is prime Bump Season. With all of our recent snow, they aren't too big, and the tops are still soft. I am partial to bump skiing. It requires concentration, and developing any kind of rhythm is an accomplishment. Sometimes I do that. Other times I look like a gremmie out of control. On a sunny afternoon, we decided to ski Red Lodge Mountain's classic bump runs, from Hellroaring (which I think should count as four runs), to Winchester by way of Royal's Run, then on the little trail through the trees to Lobo, finishing with Thompson's, the Beer Run.
Maybe the best part of spring skiing is recovering on The Stube deck in the sun, with cold beer, hot fries, friends, and tales to tell.