Sitting in my car in the dark in the woods wasn't exactly how I pictured my New Year's Eve might begin. But hey it was only about 6 degrees outside, and I was still wearing the slacks and tie from a wedding shoot the day before. A broken up phone call to Mark and Meg gave me my doubts about where I was actually supposed to be for the sled party of a lifetime, and sitting in my car alone watching my breath freeze on the window, the motivation for spending new years in the mountains was fading faster than my body temperature. The thought of whether I should just start my car and bomb over the pass for a different type of evening in Seattle was creeping in,
But what a mistake that would have been.
The familiar throaty sputter of an army of sleds roared at my car out of the dark forest, and I was stoked to hear the familiar hoots and hollers of friends unloading and piling into a rustic cabin with a healthy fire-pit in the front yard, surrounded by about 6 sleds all of which had multiple pilots and multiple boards stacked on each other.
Once the blizzard of boots, boards, jackets, helmets, goggles and gear had cleared, it wasn't long before two fires were roaring, spaghetti was boiling and the whiskey was changing hands and disappearing faster than the polar ice caps.
Sir Jessie Gallanar's cabin, the man gracious enough to house about 10 exhaust, booze and snow covered miscreants such as ourselves, was the ultimate in woodsmen's lairs; fully outfitted with pulldown stair cases, a wood stove, enough beds to start a hostel, a leather couch, and tibetan prayer flags. Not to mention a lakeside view. But if i say much more, the market value might drop.
With enough bacon for breakfast to put us all on Lipitor, we geared up the sleds to head down the road and rally the rest of the crew, say hi to Niko the husky and take Jessie's sled apart and put it back together three or four times.
Once we finally got all our crew assembled and beers finished we jetted up the road to start the spiral climb around and up Hex Mountain. Mark and Meg were rocking the sled that was endearingly titled "The Cadillac" due to its girth and length, and I was doubling with Nick Ennen, spending most of the 20 minute ride hanging on for dear life one handed with my camera while we roared at about 50 on one ski.
Mark and Meg beat us to the top, walking up to us with Raniers in hand, buried in the snow from the day before, well played.
After that it was hot lap after hot lap, with two taking sleds down to make pickups and three or four of us ripping down a fun little face, dropping some logs and shredding some nice dry east side snow, overlooking a killer Cle Elum Lake vista.
Riding until it was too dark to do anything but stack logs five feet high and enjoy the company of what turned into a family affair with about 20 people rolling up on sleds throughout the afternoon, all before making the mass exodus down the mountain in the dark, in which I was tripled up on the Caddy with Mark and Meg, with no headlight. The part where Ryan and Caitlin, leading us with their headlight ran out of gas was an adventure too; us sitting in the dark, while he jumped on Nick's sled hoping he would catch the rest of the group before they got beyond the main road.
But after getting just enough gas (which ended up being chainsaw gas) to make it back, and several failed attempts down unknown roads, a beach run along the water and watching some unexpected fireworks erupt overhead, we finally made it back to base cabin ready to rock.
Before we knew it we were chanting in the new year, surrounded by what had to be 50 people, all friends and family. I was definitely a stranger to all of them, but felt it to none. After some drumming and dancing in a teepee, digging out the truck out of the ditch and racing sleds on the beach at 3 am our mini sled shred adventure was coming to an end. But not before another morning of tree root jibbing, and waterfall dropping before taking off back to the west side, and continuing a life of pretending like I'm thinking about anything other than friends and snowboarding.
I hope your year started in a way that makes you wonder how it could ever get better.
Thanks for looking. See all the pics HERE