Did you know that the 26th president of the United States, Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt, was a skier? For real. Back in 1903, he got down. He was also a walking well of memorable quotes—or, more likely, had some great ghost writers. Teddy is credited with coining such phrases as “Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far,” “The joy of living is his who has the heart to demand it,” and my personal favorite: “Comparison is the thief of joy.”
Though Teddy wasn’t talking about time well spent at Mt. Baker Ski Area, his sayings deftly translate to the lives of skiers and snowboarders in the Northwest. Washington state’s Cascade Range is often covered in a heavy blanket of snow come late November, but this year it’s been uncharacteristically warm across the region (as well as many other parts of the country). But there’s still fun to be found at the end of Highway 542. That much has been evidenced by the folks who showed out in force for Mt. Baker Ski Area’s highly anticipated Passholders Day and Opening Day in December.
At a ski area that averages over 600 inches of snow annually, it could have been easy for folks to feel deterred by the lack of fresh powder to start the season off. Surely some were, but those who chose to embrace the conditions were rewarded with plenty of silver linings. Operations got the groomers firing and the freeride feature zone, The Sticks, dialed despite the challenges. In lieu of powder, Mother Nature offered up some curative sunshine for the annual riders reunion at Mt. Baker. A lot of people spent the day dusting off cobwebs to warm up for months of skiing and boarding yet to come, while others could be found ripping around the mountain already in mid-season form—low tide be darned. The scene was testament to the joy of living.
That’s the power living in the present. Fortunately, the community surrounding Mt. Baker is an embodiment of such, chock full of folks who will be happily shredding no matter the weather. Getting up to the mountain, respecting it for what it is, and continually enjoying the ride while gaining an even deeper appreciation for deeper days, rather than simply longing for them. To slide down mountains in any shape or form is a privilege we mustn’t take for granted.
Those deeper days will come—stay ready. But don’t dwell on conditions. Have the heart to demand joy in the now. And when favorable storms do eventually roll around, remember to ride a big stick—or two, depending on your preference. You will go far.