Leaving the town of Liberty, Utah.
On the road at 6 a.m, and it's cold and lonely out. Apprehensions, stress, and second thoughts accompany a cold, tired body behind the wheel. It seems like almost every big trip starts this way, but I think I have been on enough of them now to know that somewhere down the highway, maybe after 10 miles, maybe after 1000, all that baggage will be left somewhere on the side of a road. Inevitably, through either hardship or beauty, the trip itself will blossom.
The headlights illuminate a single lonely horse as it stretches in a dark pasture. Then the first rays of sun bathe Snowbasin ski area. Bathed in light, the crags come alive; a series of swollen pink powder spines light up from the summit down to the valley. Ethereal, they elude a warming pull that heats the core and reaffirms why we are on this trip. There is an ideal to chase, and in it we find some serious doses of adventure and happiness. We won't be stopping at Snowbasin today, but will pass on and North through Idaho and onto to Jackson, Wyoming for the first stop on the long journey north.
The John C. pulls hard as we rumble North along 15 North into Idaho and through the ranchlands of Wyoming. I am exicted because we get to pick up my new sled in Alpine, Wyoming. With it in tow, we will be self-sufficient again.
Just two weeks earlier, we drove from Utah to Colorado to pick up Mark's sled. That haul took us to Aspen for two days where we briefly saw Oskar as he picked up his Powder Magazine Photo of the Year award. Then it was down to Telluride to fetch the sled and hang out with Rob for a late night.
Arriving in Alpine, Wyoming in a snowstorm, I am happy to see my new blue mountain sled- a clean burning, 4-stroke engine accompanies the John C. Andersn grease mobile which will carry it. We are at least on the cutting edge of clean burning engines for 2007. The days of electric trucks and sleds are not upon us yet, but until then we'll keep it as clean as we can on principle, and roll down the road with minimized emissions. Before turning the key for the first time, I say a quick incantation,
"May you land us on top of the pillow lines, spines, and the ramps of our dreams."
The engine rumbles, then settles into a purr. We load the sled (not sure what to name it yet) beside Mark's in the back of the trailer, and off we go to Jackson where we meet our friends Tucker, Kayli, and Ashley for fajitas. The talk moves to the best powder days of the year. Even though everyone has been in different places during the season, there is collective memory of the best days. January 1st, "last Monday,"- they all stick.
We found warm beds and good hospitality in Jackson and then it was off to Portland, then Vancouver to pick up Oskarito and company, then the grandeur of Alaska looming at the top of the Atlas.