Well, it's March - and for most people in the world, that means the ski season is weeks away from wrapping up. I find March to be an interesting month. It's a time to put everything into prespective and understand yourself a little better.
This past year has been an interesting one for me. It was my forth year of being a ski bum (well, I had a night time dishwashing job last winter, and I had a ski pass this year and last - so some might think that I'm not hardcore enough, but whatever), and it's interesting how the world looks upon me and my kind. My ski season started getting interesting way back in May, 7 months before the 05/06 season even got started. I started tree planting with a company called Tsuga (it was my 3rd year planting - and yes I'm going back for a 4th). Our planting season was only supposed to go till mid July, but we didn't get out of the bush until August 2nd - making this one of the very few summers since 1999 that I missed summer skiing on the glacier. Now, I wouldn't have minded so much about the complete shit show we had planting this year if it was all done with - but our boss, being the asshole that he his decided he wouldn't pay us, or answer our calls/e-mails. Long story short, we eventually got paid in October - and he still owes me $1000... but I'll never see that money in my life. As to why someone would get off by screwing students (and in my case - friendly, loving ski bums) is beyond me, I do believe he'll get to what's comming to him in the end.
Now, our (my gf and I) plan was to be in France for the season, but due to the delay of our pay we couldn't get the visa stuff worked out in time so we ended up in Rossland, BC. Now, I think I speak for everyone when I say that I was a little nervous comming into this season after what happened across BC last year. But alas - the season started off with an amazing opening day. Unfortunatly, the night of the second day the hill was open I got a bit tipsy, jumped off a pile of snow and sprained my ankle real good. I was off my skis for a month and a half right at the start of the season. By the time I was able to start skiing agressivly again it was already February, and almost literally the exact day I was back on my skis, my gf overshot a jump and hurt her spine putting her out for the rest of the season (not only is she my girlfriend, she is also my riding buddy and my filmer/filmy). On top of that it was early February - no powder for weeks...
Giving up on Red Mountain I started hitching to Whitewater to get my powder fix (the Selkirks (Nelson Range) are higher up than the Monashees (Rossland Range) so the systems that just blow over Red get stuck on Ymer and dump lots of the the goods. During this time, I found a new hatrid to the average person. Even with skis in hand, people just would not pick me up while hitching. We did an experament one day, where the males and the females hitched sepreatly to see the difference in time... On average a female can do the Rossland - Whitewater trip (aprox an hour drive) in an hour and a half, while I, the male took an average of 4 and a half hours. As to why people are so afraid of picking up hitch hikers is beyond me (I mean, the West Kootney's are exactly full of murderers and rapists).
Now it is March... I only have 4 powder days under my belt for this season - which is less than I've had some years back at Blue Mountain. And because of the tree planting incident where I got screwed out of $1000 I could not afford to pay rent for the month of March in Rossland, so I am now back in Vancouver, where my skiing will consist of a handfull of days this month hiking rails at Seymour in the rain (this will also be my first winter not being at Blue Mountain for the Triple Challange - quite possibly the best competition ever, if not for the actual event, but for the vibe and friends).
A winter like the one I have experienced (am experiencing) this year makes one think about what I am doing with my life. Is it all worth it? Am I living life? Or wasting it? Should I go to school and get a career? What if it doesn't snow next year? Or if I hurt myself again? Or even die?
But then I stop thinking about the future, and even the present... But instead I think about the past. I have so many amazing stories, seen so many amazing places, and met so many amazing people that I realize that it would be silly for me to stop the ski bum life just because of one bad winter (ok, maybe two bad winters - last year we just didn't get snow - ya know?). I just hope that people start to understand exactly what it is that I am doing - and maybe some of them might even remember me after I'm gone (but after watching the Olympics this year I fear that the mainstream society is far from knowing what skiing is really about, and what the ski bum stands for.
I would appologize for writting too much, but if you are reading this all the way down here than that means that I much have written something interesting. And maybe I will inspire at least one person to become a ski bum and leave the 'normal' life for a free one. I start tree planting again April 1st, than it's off to New Zealand for the summer to keep living the dream. Whatever you do with your life - make sure you're having fun doing it.
Save the world - Pick up hitch hikers.