Ah, that lovely time of year when everyone in Montana is getting antsy for ski season. The snow hasn't fallen much yet, barely enough to set up urban spots in town, yet every year like clockwork good ol' Great Divide answers our needy call for some rail skiing. Bozeman kids jam pack their cars with people and ski gear and make the two hour drive out to Helena to meet up with Missoula, Whitefish and Helena friends. It is the one event where you're guaranteed to see almost all of your park skiing buddies from around the state. Because it's the best set up? The most fun? No. Because it's the first.

A mere $5 gets you 4 solid hours of riding the rope tow or hiking up a tiny patch of man-made snow reminiscent of Midwest ski areas. Along one side are the beginner features, a couple short flat rails and down rails. Along the other side are the burlier features, including two large flat down, and down flat lift towers. These features attract the most people, and with skiers and boarders dropping in from over four different areas, crashes, yelling, pole throwing, and exasperation became rather common. But when it all boils down to it, the shit show is what makes Pocket Park. Although frustration runs rampant, it is eventually scared off by all of the smiles, laughing and overall good times. The camaraderie that is present is unbeatable. Everyone mingles with everyone and gets stoked on what each individual is throwing down. Filmers and photographers all cluster together in the few spots that are less of a danger zone, hikers en masse crawl up the hill and stop in unison to watch specific skiers destroy. At the top of the hill is such a large group of people, one wonders if there is any order determining who drops in, or if it is just one huge free for all.

At the end of the day when tricks are landed, layers shed and bruises accumulated, the cars start to pack up again and roll out, but everyone will return the next day to do the exact same thing. Pocket Park is without a doubt, the perfect way to start the season. It is the opportune time to get back into the game, dust off the early season rusties, and see everyone that you'll be shredding with come November when the mountains finally open.


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