Winter was off to a slow start for Salt Lake City in 2017. Many ski resorts were slow to open and conditions were easily summed up by the words "icy, firm, and sketchy." After a couple weeks of skiing frozen groomer runs, My friend Paul and I saw our chance to break away from the less-than-ideal conditions in Utah.
"DEEPcember" was quickly approaching the Northern Rocky Mountains of Idaho and Montana with 2-3 feet of snow predicted over a 3 day window. After planning our attack with a 15 minute phone call, we were on the road 12 hours later ready to chase the snow to Western Montana. The trusty steed of choice was Paul's 1985 Ford Clubwagon XL. A cozy rig that fit us and two Paul's dogs, Mowgli and Hatcher. All that separated us from a winter wonderland was ten hours of drive time and a long stretch of road.
After a night of snow driving conditions, we arrived just outside Missoula, MT around 3 am. The last two hours of the drive doubled due to mother nature teasing our powder hunger with some white-out driving conditions. Heavy snow is always welcomed on a mountain, but no so much in a two-wheel drive van with squirrely handling. We finally hunkered down off the beaten path in a rural town off the freeway soon to wake to a good day of playing in the snow.
The first day of playtime took us to Montana Snowbowl, just outside of Missoula. The resort had previously only been open on weekends due to early season conditions. We happened to catch it on its start of daily openings after a 3 day dumping of untouched conditions. I would love to say we stacked footage and photos, but instead we enjoyed the moment. The kodak moments were saved mainly for the dogs playing in the snow. Hatcher, the puppy and Mowgli's younger brother was curious to see what this white fluff was all about.
Whitefish Resort was the next stop on the mission. A short night of driving and we reached our destination for the night in Kalispell, MT. All thanks goes to Paul for being prepared and bringing a -40 degree sleeping bag he let me borrow. Saying it was a cold night would be an understatement. As morning came we started up the trusty van Rose to head for another day of snow. Unfortunately Mother Nature didn't bless us with optimal vision conditions. Not even a third of the way up the mountain a heavy thick fog covered the mountain. The snow directly beneath us was a thick milky blanket offering no hints as to the bumps and surprises that lay ahead. Due to extremely rough visibility we didn't bring out the cameras and made due with present conditions. Whitefish Resort is going back on the list to revisit another time.
Calling the trip a success we headed home. Three nights in a van, two dogs, two resorts, one long drive all added up to make for one hell of a trip.