Ski Road Trip – My Great Affair With Skiing

Ski Road Trip – My Great Affair  With Skiing

by LORI KNOWLES

In Winter 2016 we took a ski road trip with my family on a barren highway between Utah’s Alta/Snowbird and New Mexico’s Taos Ski Valley, I experienced a revelation.

It drifted in, as revelations do, as vast empty fields of sand and sage slipped past my vehicle’s window. Moab. Monument Valley. The Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest.  With nothing much on my mind beyond hoping to catch sight of a coyote loping across this lonely land, or wondering how on earth those great monuments of red sandstone manage to stand so tall and solitary in the emptiness of Southern Utah and Arizona, I was struck suddenly by how content I was feeling.

Editorial deadlines. The kids bickering in the backseat. Desert darkness approaching. Our gas gauge running too close to empty. None of it could spoil the calm I was experiencing. Nothing could mar the serenity generated simply by the fact that my family and I, like roadrunners, were in unbroken motion. That must be why I like to ski, I told myself. Sliding downhill, the wind and flakes and snow-capped scenery breezing past me; I am most content in constant motion.

Let me back up a second. An explanation as to how I came to this revelation:

In an impulsive moment last season, I plucked my two pre-teen kids out of school, played hooky from work, and lassoed my husband. I purchased Mountain Collective ski passes over the internet, stacked extra fat freeride skis into a cargo box, and with bewildered family in tow, I set out on a six-week, mid-winter road trip.

While we stole nights in classic hotels (the Fairmont Banff Springs, Four Seasons Whistler), for the most part we lived snugly inside a rented, 28-foot, whitewashed RV; nicknamed The Betty White. We rode every ski resort of my dreams on that road trip, from Banff and Whistler, to Revelstoke, Sun Valley, Aspen, Alta and beyond.  Alone from the top of the tram at Jackson Hole, I led my 12-year old son down through a dense wall of driving snow. Skiing entirely by feel, he didn’t miss a turn; at the bottom he asked to do it all over again.

At Taos we sat on a high-alpine bench under a blistering sun, munching on sliced cheese and crisp apples, posing recklessly for a Vogue photographer who’d appeared out of nowhere offering to snap our photos.

At the summit of Snowbird we rode a ski lift through a tunnel that bores through a peak at 10,000 feet above sea level; we circled back and did it again, the experience was so awesome.

We drove The Betty White up Little Cottonwood Canyon from Salt Lake City at a tilt so steep our cutlery rattled and our china came crashing down — hello Granny Clampett.

At Snowmass we snuggled into several days of deepening powder, my 9-year-old daughter learning for the first time how to snake her skis through trees on Big Burn, her father teaching her how to yodel.  And on it went. Traveling across the U.S. and Canadian West simply to ski… well, it’s the stuff of any skier’s dreams. It was as memorable as my first kiss and every bit as impulsive.

Yet looking back, it was also enlightening. It wasn’t the scenery I was loving most, or the family togetherness, or even the powder, though all of those things were wonderful. It was the motion: simple, perpetual motion. “The great affair is to move,” wrote Robert Louis Stevenson in explaining what he loved about travel. I feel the same way about skiing.

 

 

 

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