Day 26 Fri Feb 13. Whitefish – Empire Builder. 3600 m vertical (83700 total)

The day the lights went out …

But more about that later.  As always was a bit tardy getting everything stuffed back into bags ready to check out this morning, but really didn’t see the point in rushing up just to wait around for the snow to soften.  Yesterday was a day when the snow was in transition to corn – at least high up on the mountain – but today it was full on spring time.  And a glorious day to boot – sunny right from the get go and probably the best view of the peaks of Glacier NP I’ve yet to see.  Snow had turned to slop very early down low, but once again the north side was still skiing quite nicely with Grey Wolf probably the pick early on – as much for the scenery as the snow. Bottom part of Big Ravine no longer being groomed but still fun skiing, albeit a bit thin in parts. Tried the ungroomed on Upper Hogans and found it quite OK, so did one more run out onto East Rim Face – now really hacked up but still worth it. Bottom of the hill was just slush puppy bumps with lots of punters to dodge.

Presidents Day weekend coming up and the crowds have arrived early. During the week, the concept of crowded here has meant having to share a chair with someone, but actually had to use the singles lines and queue for several minutes at a time today. One last run down Big Ravine and bid a fond farewell to Big Mountain. Legs are feeling the effects of another 5 days of skiing but knees are still feeling surprisingly OK – I’d like to think it’s because of the refinements in my skiing technique putting less strain on them, but in reality it’s probably got more to do with less powder and hence less tele turns this trip. While the snow this week has been far and away the worst I’ve encountered here, I’ve still had some great skiing. Will look at doing about a 12 day stint here nect time I think.

Back to the motel, where they had let me store my bags and after a final rearranging did the slow (but mercifully fairly short) walk down to the station dragging it all behind me. Must have looked pretty pathetic as one friendly woman actually offered to drive me there – and it was only 4 blocks away! Having finally divested myself of them, managed to get back up the street just in time to finally make it to The Creperie, then after a final fix from MCT I could concentrate on the truly vexing issue of the day – whether I like Wheatfish or Huckleberry Wheat beer better. After one of each I still couldn’t decide, and I figured if I had another of each I’d be starting to get beyond the point of being able to make
decisions, so took a walk instead.

Was wandering back into the downtown core about 6, wondering where I would have dinner – and whether I would be limited in choices given the number of people now in town – when I noticed the traffic lights weren’t working. There was some street lighting but it was only partial and there was a strange situation with many restaurants with little or no power inside their places but with their illuminated beer signs in the windows still working. Go figure.  Anyhow, was an academic issue soon as ALL power went goodbye. Only one place looked alive – must have had their own generator. At first it was quite a
novelty – after wandering around seeing diners already seated and/or eating peering through candlelight and watching people leave places as it dawned on them that power wasnt going to be restored in a hurry I sat down outside my eatery of choice, figuring I’d be ready to pounce when normality resumed.

Would have been a good plan but the power didn’t come back on till after 8 – by which time my place of choice had given up for the night and sent their staff home. With power restored I got my priorities right – headed straight to the grocer to get the little bottle of Prosecco I was planning on drinking on the train, then made a beeline for the only place locally doing quick take away – pizza by the slice. Maybe it had something to do with being cold, hungry and almost out of options but damn it was good. Managed to make it to the station about 5 minutes before the train pulled in, and was soon in my current position – glass by my side, feet up and the train rolling along beneath me. The only way to travel. Photos can wait till tomorrow.

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