When I got home from trade show hell, my relationship with snowboarding had become much like waking up next to a fat chick I should not have had sex with. My head hurt, and I just kept asking myself, “why?” The worst part? There are photos of the whole god damn thing. Still riddled with guilt, I was on the road again to Mount Baker’s Legendary Banked Slalom. With little expectations for anything other than a fun event, we wound through dense thickets of Spanish lichen on our way to the emerald forests of Washington. The car was jam-packed full of snowboard gear, food, and camera supplies, while our bodies bounced around like atoms in a cell on the winding Mt. Baker Highway, as we found our way to a quaint cottage in the Mount Baker Rim.
Glacier, Washington is the closest thing to Never Never Land that I can think of. There is no cell service or Internet and the men that inhabit the town are a crew of lost boys aiming to stay young forever and board as much as possible. I decided perhaps I should become one of them.
30 minutes from Glacier stands a set of jagged peaks, surrounding the Volcanic wonderland that is Mt. Baker. Little did I know, I would soon rekindle the romance. When falling in love, the beginning stages can be tough. You must be coy and delicate — you don’t know her sexual preference, or how many times you can ride her before it’s ok to pull her hair. On Friday morning, I first saw her naked, exposed by a cloudless sky. Awed by the endless powder fields and steep chutes, my mental tides turned. Rather than feeling like my relationship with snowboarding was an endless raunchy drunken booty call, all I wanted to do wasÂ hold her delicate hand.
I took a lift ride up chair 6 and saw a clear view Hemispheres, a flowing field of luscious rolls. Other’s had gotten there before me, and were man-handling the terrain. To avoid sloppy second, we followed Ben Lynch, Tucker Andrews and Nick Ennen straight to the Canyon. Things moved fast, faster than I’d ever gone before. I dare you to do the same thing and not smile.
Nick Ennen shows us the way.
The pros weren’t the only ones to join in on the action, and in the case of courting Mount Baker, it’s easier with the locals. Unable to connect with a true local, I was lucky to be friends with a local-in-training. Come night time, “Caww” led me through the most intense darkness I’d ever witnessed…or didn’t witness. Weaving through a maze of large trees and wet moss, the occasional, “watch out for that river,” or “watch out for the baker-cabra” were the only words spoken, until we came upon a bonfire. There, the locals were gathered around telling tales of their day’s conquests. I was in deep now, and I couldn’t have been happier. My journey continue from there with fine grilled salmon, craft beers and the sweet smell of mountain air.
Oh ya, how rude of me. The contest? It was just as amazing as ever, and you can read more about it here. As I sped Southwest toward Portland, I finally felt the passion again. It was like leaving the love I had made at summer camp. In fact, I left Mount Baker just as one leaves any true love situation — with the after taste of fish in my mouth.