We took a Wednesday night flight to Sac and met the brothers. From there it was a treacherous journey through the mountains that were already being pelted with snow. Even with a 30mph speed limit beyond the chains checkpoint, the 4wd Tundra got us to the cabin in just a couple hours. And that's where I high-centered it on what looked like soft snow covering the driveway. After an hour of digging we freed the vehicle and hit the hay for four blissful hours of shuteye.
We awoke to the beginnings of two days of constant snowfall totalling six feet. This didn't make getting around very easy, but with a set of chains on the Tund we made it to a very empty Northstar resort.
The ample new snow made for tricky passage, you had to guess how much each turn would sink. I got it wrong and was pitched plenty of times. Even the groomed runs were covered with small mounds that couldn't be navigated like moguls, you just had to let your skis and/or knees take the impact.
I toted the d700 with a 20mm f/2.8. Sighting through the lens would have been a disaster, so I turned on evaluative focus for the first time ever and shot from the hip. In retrospect, this presents a post-processing nightmare of dealing with rotated images.
I wanted to get some sweet particle/line effects from the falling snow, and brought a flash with cable along to highlight them. Unfortunately contrast was so diminished that it's tough to make out snowflakes even against the trees. It was a bit better against people though.
On what was already going to be the last run, I took a brief journey off-piste. The detour ended badly and the ski that detached disappeared. Jon, Derrick, and I dug for nearly half an hour but the thing was nowhere to be found. So they headed down to the lodge and I made my way to the gondola on one ski. It's not too bad, you just have to lean to the side that you're skiing on and you'll go in a straight line. To slow or turn you have to cut and put your boot down.
The more you know.
This called for a few pints in the village. As Jon had promised, North of the Border served $2 drafts after 4:00, something I didn't think possible at a ski resort.
On Friday Ted and Amanda dropped us off at Northstar and headed for a day spa. This was fortuitous for those of us who had misplaced a ski the previous day. What was unfortuitous was the gondola line. Fortuitously Jon knew of a second lift that ran from the Hyatt in the village to the Ritz on the mountain. After a short hike we walked right onto the gondola. By now the fresh snow had gotten even deeper and our first run at Lookout Mountain was very difficult. But the weather had improved from the following day and we picked our runs more adeptly.
The most entertaining part of the day was watching Jon and Derrick try to get up the ski-school style lift that links the Lookout runs with the rest of the mountain.
Friday's skiing was also followed by pints, then French dinner in the village and coffee after that. Due to the weather and an influx of the holiday crowd, traffic was stopped all the way up to the village. We left four hours later and still encountered some backup.
The weather was looking good on Saturday as we left, so the trip to Sac was without incident.