When you live in a rural area like Benzie County, and everybody knows you work at a ski resort (because everybody knows everything about everybody), the conversation starters are predictable.
“When are you going to open?” they ask. “How much snow have you made?” And my favorite: “How much snow are we going to get this winter?” (Never enough, my friends, never enough). Snow angst is heavy this December with its stalled slope opening start, as we wait for Mother Nature to deliver the goods. Yet, we ski resort staffers are mentally steeling ourselves. We know it will come. It may snow in spits and bits, dumping heavily to tease us, then pulling back to torture us with short meltdowns, only to strike again – but it comes. Ski season always arrives with all the grace and glory of a freight train. Once the flakes fall and the bullwheels begin to turn, the hectic pace begins anew.
So what keeps each ski season from being the same old stuff? Every winter is like a classroom of kids – another year, but a new cast of characters to make it different. Through a new winter’s perspective, ski experiences are revisited. You can always count on days where the ski is so blue and the snow is so white it makes your teeth hurt, like eating ice cream. You can count on thick-flaked storms where you ski in Braille, finding protection in forested glades. There’ll be solitudinal glides through hushed hardwoods, tip-chattering runs through the slalom gates, early morning signature skiing when you carve the first turns on the hill. The season will be filled, once again, with stories of awesome air, jumps hidden and found, patches of powder to float on, fast times and hard laughs.
Skiers have 56 years worth of winter experience in these Buck Hills,where a small warming hut and rope tow once stood. They return winter after winter for the same outdoor experience, made fresh by the stories each ski season brings. And the snow always comes.