When you ride the chairs early enough, you see fresh tracks on Red Lodge Mountain—a deer crossing Lower Limited, gray squirrels hightailing it across Silver and diving into holes, the trails of skis cutting snow. Many of us want to make first tracks, but in the right places, along soft edges, on wide runs, in certain bump fields, we can find the clear spaces for our own fresh tracks.
At a certain age, every opening day, every chance we have to ski, is one more day of bliss. Comparing notes with the other guys his age recovering from surgeries to shoulders, knees, and hips, my ski partner of 45 years, having missed most of last season, was anxious to be on skis again.
We were up early for Opening Day, and at 9 AM when the line of excited skiers and boarders started moving onto the Triple Chair, we could already tell that it would be a big day. With good snow, sunshine, blue skies, attentive grooming, smiling lifties, and happy people swooping down the trails, Red Lodge Mountain was the place to be.
We used our Grizzly Peak Club membership on Sunday to get onto the mountain at 8 AM. It’s worth it, to be first on the Triple Chair headed for wide open, quiet runs. We cut velvety ridges of cord on Turnpike and Bobcat and were first in line at the Grizzly Peak chair to do the same on Lazy M. Despite the friendly warning from a serious young boy, “Barriers is all moguls,” we went anyway. It was true, but the bumps were soft and small and well-spaced. We stopped for our customary viewing of the town of Red Lodge below. All autumn we look up from our driveway to Barriers, waiting for winter.
In town we have our holiday lights up. Come for Christmas! There’s plenty of snow, plenty of mountain to share, and plenty of room for your own fresh tracks.