A Guide to the Western Slope and the Outlying Areas by Roger Lebovitz by Roger Lebovitz - Read Online

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A Guide to the Western Slope and the Outlying Areas - Roger Lebovitz

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Chapter 1

It was the first race down the first trail on the mountain. 1934. The Lord came in second. Jack Allen, a golf champion from Burlington, won the race on skis as tall as a man’s hand reaching for the sky. It was a marvelous slide, they all said. Government men cut the trail the year before and named it after a local logger. The logging camp at the end of the trail was made into a ski lodge, where three dollars bought a bunk and breakfast and dinner. People came up from the big cities to ski the trail and eat the breakfast and the dinner. The snow falling in the mountains amazed them. Sometimes it seemed as if snowy tears were falling from the sky.

Across the ocean men were massing on public squares and marching with armbands. Some skiers over there did not like that, and were hired to teach skiing on the mountain where they had cut the first trail. Where are the mountains, they asked, because our mountains (as the most rudimentary of topographic maps will show) are much smaller than the mountains across the ocean. The skiers climbed our mountains and at the top the wind knocked them down until they finally said, yes, here are the mountains.

The next year the government men cut a new trail that was steeper and better for racing, so the skiers started to forget about the first trail. This new trail had a fancy name, and the fancy name made it famous. Most people said it would have been famous even without the fancy name. Then the skiers built a lift nowhere near the old logging camp, and they started to forget about the logging camp, too. The skiers from across the ocean taught many people to ski. Several years later a rich man got tired of waiting in line for the ski lift and decided to build another lift and then another and another. None of these lifts went any where near the first trail, so the skiers forgot about the first trail on the mountain even more.

Except some skiers refused to forget about the first trail. They kept skiing it. Even the Lord kept skiing it. Every one else passed it by. If they looked and thought about it at all, they might have noticed a little meadow closed in with fir and birch trees. If they went to the end of the meadow, they could see how the trail started its drop down the mountain. But no one who did not already know about the trail bothered to go to the end of the meadow. By that time it had even disappeared from the map. There is no trail there, the mapmakers said. Or at most they admitted: it’s a dead trail. That trail is long dead and long gone.

Several generations passed and a new group of skiers decided they wanted to ski the trail. First they visited Jack Allen’s grave and left a pebble or two on the head stone. Then they skied the trail. At the bottom they passed the old ski lodge and would have stopped for dinner except that it had burned to the ground twenty years before. But where the trail met the road some one had built a bar, and this new group of skiers agreed that replacing the old ski lodge with a bar had not been a bad exchange. The bar was named after a big mountain (much bigger than ours) from across the ocean. After a drink or two, they caught the bus back to the ski area. The bus driver