By Mike Mannelin Explorebigsky.com Columnist
The chains on the plow truck jingle as it passes by my camper bed for the 10th time. This is my wakeup call to get up and go skiing. When I open the door to look outside, the new snow on the ground surprises me.
No time to make coffee, gotta get to Swifty.
The base area is busy with holiday visitors who just think this is a normal day. We haven’t had a real powder day yet this year, so I’m pretty stoked to get up the mountain.
Without a sense of hurry, my buddy Brit and I load the chairlift. It’s the lack of having to race for freshies that I love the most about this place. I take that back. It’s the lift-serviced terrain available that’s my favorite. Or maybe it’s the friendly people I keep running into every day. At any rate, I’m pretty excited to be here for as many high quality breaths of fresh mountain air as I can absorb.
Contrary to the thoughts of many, today is quite significant. As I write, it’s Dec. 21, 2011. It’s the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, the first day of winter. It’s snowing, and we’ve already collected a foot of snow from this storm.
It’s also significant in the fact that we are exactly 365 days from the hyped apocalypse, the end of the world as we know it, Dec. 21, 2012, or 18.104.22.168.0 in the Long Count from the ancient Mayan calendar.
What does this mean to me? I guess from a reflective standpoint, it’s similar to the new year that is upon us. If nothing else, it’s a good time to check in with myself about the direction of my path in life. Where will I be a year from today? Hopefully I’ll be skiing the same conditions we had today or are about to have tomorrow.
Chest deep turns on the tram with some of my best friends are mostly what I’m thinking about for the predicted Apocalypse. When the world ends, my friends and I will be choking on blower Montana cold smoke, cruising through the trees of Bavarian Forest, laughing as we lift out of the snow and into the air between turns, only to be slammed with face shots as we re-enter the snow-mosphere, tips first. Perhaps we won’t even know the world ended because we’ll be too busy figuring out which way to go as we climb out of the tramcar, lap after lap.
Maybe the Christmas music will all stop at once, the televisions will all become snowy, and chaos will ensue on the streets of America. The earth will shake, and the mountains will fall down. Friends will gather to say goodbye to the cruel old world, and hello to our new existence as butterflies and eagles.
I think it’ll be just another day in Big Sky. That’s not to discount the good fortune of anyone who happens to be skiing here on any given day, because ‘just another day in Big Sky’ is pretty much as good as it gets.
Mike Mannelin has been skiing Big Sky with friends since his early 20s. He is a guide for Alaska Heliskiing, and spends his summers in a remote cabin with his wife, dog and some friendly brown bears.