There’s a slide in Logan Canyon. It’s not like the one last week — that was a doozy — but Utah’s road officials are concerned enough that they’ve shut down this stretch of Highway 89 until they can be sure of safe passage.
Marge Seeholzer is concerned too. The ski resort her father-in-law founded, three quarters of a century ago, got hit hard last night. Officially it was 8 inches, but in most places at the resort it looks like a foot or more — and it’s still dropping buckets. A closed canyon means an empty resort.
Empty, that is, except for us and a few dozen others who either made it up before the Utah Highway Patrol blocked the road or came in from the other side.
Marge isn’t worried about money. On a day like this — a weekday storm — most of Beaver Mountain’s guests will be season pass holders anyway, so it’s not the ticket sales she’s concerned about.
It’s the people. Her people. This is epic snow, solid in quantity and perfect — perfect — in quality. Greatest on Earth sort of stuff. Marge wants the Beaver faithful to be able to get in on it. And from the phone in her tiny ticket office at the foot of her family’s historic lodge, she’s letting that be know, loud and clear, to some poor sap on the other end of the line.
(Note to self: Never get on Marge’s bad side. Post script: I think we’re safely on Marge’s good side and, not having a living grandmother myself, I’d like her to adopt me.)
Marge’s son, Travis, the mountain’s operations director and go-to guy for pretty much everything, is looking at the bright side of things. This winter has served up storm after storm after storm. He’s been so busy that he hasn’t been able to take much time to enjoy it himself. But with fewer people on the mountain today (there are perhaps 30 cars in the lot when Harry’s Dream opens at 9 a.m. and plenty of them belong to staff members and ski patrollers) Travis is going to be able to come ski with us for a few hours.
A few glorious hours.
Travis grew up on this mountain, so he knows exactly where to go on days like this. First we drop under Harry’s, floating over pillows the size of VW Beetles. We hop back on Harry’s and this time traverse skier’s right past the resort boundary, twisting through aspen groves and dropping into untouched powder run after untouched powder run. Up Henry’s again. This time we head hard left, where we meet up with Tom Johnson, a home builder from Garden City, who takes us on a roller coaster run through spindly evergreens and waist-deep clearings. We laugh the whole way down. There’s simply no other response that will do.
Along the way, Tom and Travis sporadically stop to talk. Just talk. About work. About the other Beaver regulars. About nothing really at all. And this strikes me as absolutely bizarre at first, because in the Cottonwoods — where JJ, Swede and I usually pound the powder — there are no friends on days like this. No family either. It’s every man, woman and child for their über-agro selves, racing to be the first to break the fluff.
But here? There’s no rush. There’s plenty of snow for everyone. And Travis assures me this is the case even when there are many, many more people on this resort.
Here it’s all about friendship. About family. And I think we’ve been adopted.
Next stop: Cherry Peak.
Matthew D. LaPlante is skiing and boarding all of Utah’s 14 skis resorts — in seven days— with fellow powderhounds Jared “JJ” Jones and Erik “Swede” Price. Follow their trip on Twitter: @SkiAllOfUtah.