These days, it’s more like spring than winter in Kalispell. The snow that fell last fall is all but gone and Christmas was more on the brown side than white.
The shooting sports instructor has given consideration to raking leaves, and David said he knows someone that drove a motorcycle to work. Those are two things you wouldn‘t dream of doing in January. It’s usually much too cold for riding bikes and the roads are either snow packed or worse. And for the leaves – they would be under snow and wouldn’t cross your mind till spring.
It’s been so unusual that the streets department has had to make work for its employees who are usually plowing snow and sanding streets at this time of year. A crew came by and made a bunch of noise one morning grinding down a rough spot in our sidewalk. I embarrassed my daughter by going out and asking them what they were doing. They told me they had to have something to do because they didn’t have any snow to plow.
I’ve seen signs with the question “Where is winter?” and other signs questioning if this is what an Al Gore winter looks like. Truth of the matter is, La Nina took a hike up north and left us praying for snow.
The hoity-toity ski resort has evidently felt the effects of a mild winter and has offered reduced rates on ski lifts to encourage business.
I don’t have much sympathy for them. The resort has new ownership and one of the things they did when they purchased the resort was to discontinue free lift rides on summertime Friday’s.
The complimentary rides were lots of fun and always drew a crowd. Many locals waited in line for a lift or gondola ride up the mountain to enjoy the views, or eat dinner at the Summit House. It demonstrated goodwill to the communtity.
To the south, we have Blacktail Mountain Ski Area, which despite the scarcity of snow in the valley has been reporting ample amounts.
In addtion to ski runs, the mountain has several forest service trails that are available for cross country skiing, snowmobiling, and snowshoeing. Blacktail Mountain also boasts sweeping views of Flathead Lake and the Swan Range of the Rocky Mountains.
It was my idea to go snowshoeing the day after Christmas. Driving up Blacktail Mountain Road was an adventure in itself. The higher we climbed, the colder and snowier it became. It was a veritable winter wonderland.
We found a snow-shoe trail, and after fiddling with my shoeshoes for what seemed like an eternity, we began our hike.
I didn’t want to go up the hill along the power line, but I was alone in my opinion and had no choice.
The hill was steeper than it looks in the photo. My heart was beating fast when I reached the top. I took a break and reminded myself that cardio workouts are supposed to get you pumping.
If you think that snowshoeing is all fun, think again. It’s work, it’s exercise – especially when you’re trudging uphill.
We stayed on the mountain for a couple of hours exploring and following wolf tracks.
Montana has been good to us and we have seen much of the wildlife it has to offer. We were hoping to catch a glimpse of a lone wolf or pack, but the wolves remained elusive.
It was a fine day on the mountain, and the reward was deep snow,
blue skies, and excellent photographic opportunities.
As for the mild winter we’ve been having, I’ve noticed the benefit of more sunshine. But, my daughter may have a point when she remarked, “If the weather stays warm like this, spring won’t seem so exciting.”
For more of the story in pictures, click here.