Category Archives: Skiing
The sun burns atomically from a sky polished to a flawless blue. Heat reflects up at us from the snow covering this mountainside in southwest Idaho, making March feel like June. New snow cloaks the boughs of the ponderosa pines and blankets the ground, powder light enough to scoop into your hand and blow away like feathers.
It’s a perfect day for any beginning, especially for a first time doing anything outdoors. My 12-year-old son, Nate, 85 pounds of expectation, clicks his boots into bindings and grins at me, displaying equal parts eagerness and curiosity for his first-ever day of backcountry skiing. Continue reading →
At a pass just below 9,400 feet on the north side of 10,229-foot Mt. Heyburn, in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains, the wind that has been steadily turning the dial upward for the past hour reaches full volume. Another snow squall bursts upon us, spraying white bullets sideways and dropping a veil over the rocky, snow-spattered, serrated ridge just overhead.
Six of us have labored 2,000 feet uphill on skis this morning in search of a doorway into a secluded mountain paradise of sorts, a high basin known in some circles as the Monolith Valley, though not marked as such on any map. A slender gash between Heyburn and another 10,000-footer, Braxon Peak (which I’ve stood atop in summer), the Monolith exists in the topographical shadows, easily overlooked. Most of our group have only seen tantalizing photos that revealed legions of rock spires towering above untracked snow. The images inspired visions of marking up deep powder on slopes rarely inscribed by skiers—like Zorro, but leaving many “S” signatures instead of a “Z.” Continue reading →
The sun beats down warmly on us from a sky as fiercely and as flawlessly blue as a deep mountain lake. While we four adults ready our backpacks, the four kids already have their packs loaded and cross-country skis on and are dashing back and forth across the snow-covered parking lot—sled dogs straining at their harnesses to go. It’s the body language of enthusiasm and high expectations, and it infects us all like an aggressive virus. Continue reading →
As we neared Gunsight Pass in Glacier National Park, on the middle day of a three-day family backpacking trip, a man and woman in their fifties stopped to talk with us. They sized up our kids and smiled; Nate was nine and Alex was seven. “We’re impressed!” they told us. “We never had any luck trying to get our kids to backpack when they were young.” We chatted a bit and then headed off in opposite directions on the trail.
After they were out of earshot, Alex turned to me, wanting to clarify a point: “You didn’t get us to do this,” she told me. “We wanted to do it.” Her words, of course, warmed my heart. But her comment also spotlighted the biggest lesson for parents hoping to raise their kids to love the outdoors: Create experiences that make them eager to go out again the next time. Continue reading →
Cross-country skiing to see Yellowstone’s geysers, half-frozen waterfalls, and abundant wildlife is one of the great adventures in the National Parks System, and very accessible for families. Check out the video below, and read more about this trip, and view a gallery of photos.