Today I finally returned to the ski area that started this whole grand adventure two years, two months and five days ago. In that time I have gone from a novice toying with the idea of snowboarding to a dedicated powder hunter capable of riding most trails. On this absolutely beautiful spring-like day, I made the rounds at Willamette Pass, exploring all the trails that were beyond my ability on my previous visit (aside from RTS, which remained shaded, and was simply too icy to be worthwhile).
Although the trails were quite icy before ten, once the sun had a chance to get above the ridge, the groomed runs grew smooth and fast. I took it easy to start, re-familiarizing myself with the layout of the blue trails, and waiting for the sun to warm the steeps before hitting the harder and steeper trails. My patience was rewarded, as the snow began to improve, and I found myself enjoying a little spring snow in February.
It was a great pleasure to come back to Willamette, where I first really caught the snowboarding bug. I revisited some of the tree runs I knew from my previous visit, and found many new ones farther up the slope as well. Willamette is quite close to Portland and to Bend, but not competing directly with Mount Hood and Mount Bachelor. Eugene is really the major market for Willamette, and it shows in the relative lack of a crowd. Even with races on the hill, I found the lift line moved so fast that folks rarely filled the six pack. On the back side, there simply was no line.
After trying all the other trails on the hill, I finally decided to celebrate my good fortune in completing a tour of all three states this season by tackling the lift line at Willamette Pass. This run was so daunting when I first saw it in 2005, that I could hardly imagine why I would even want to try it.
My perspective has changed, and today I decided to enjoy the softening snow through the mogul field and along the edge of the trail, and rode all the way down the lift line. I thought it quite fitting that the final trail in my tour was "Success".