Thursday, January 17, 2013

Sunshine on Schweitzer's Shoulder

I had stood in the yard or at the kitchen window long enough, eyeing that clear blue sky behind Schweitzer.  

On other days over the past week, I could see---under the fog or cloud blankets---that Schweitzer was getting sunshine, and we weren't.

Yesterday was different.  

It was one of those stunning winter days when it seems like everything is perfect. Not too cold, surrounding fields still clean with white snow, firm, frozen ground, great surfaces for snow shoeing and a brilliant show of sunshine.

I took the dogs out twice into the fields.  While they raced around and played, I happily made several pathways of tracks with my snowshoes.  

By noon, however, when all planned tasks and chores were done, the temptation of that mountain was too much.

Dogs went in their run with plenty of food and water.  I dressed warmly, grabbed my camera and a writing pad and headed for the hill. 

With the 50-year story requiring research in all aspects of what was once called Schweitzer Basin---now more commonly known as Schweitzer Mountain Resort---a day like yesterday provided the perfect excuse to go to the mountain and gather a few factual tidbits, some contact information and some fun photos.

It was a delightful experience, not only because of the sunshine but also because of the familiar faces I saw working in several venues and the new folks I met who have signed on over the past few years to enjoy the mountain and help serve the public.

I hit "pay dirt" in the Lakeside Lodge while waiting for some Tully's Coffee to brew (Yay, Patrick Dempsey).  

While standing near the coffee machines, I looked over and spotted one of my classmates, Gary Johnson.  He was voted "Most Likely to Succeed" in the SHS Class of 1965.

He's done all right with his smoke jumping and forest-fire career, his local marine deputy service and all his other outdoor life adventures. 

"Gary, were you possibly here at Schweitzer on the very first day it opened?" I asked.

Yes, he was, my old friend said.  

Gary then told me about the fear he and some our other classmates, Dann Hall, Doug Abromeit and Chris Thompson,  felt that morning in 1963 as they stood inside the original lodge and saw that huge crowd of people outside waiting to come in for ski rentals and such.

The guys were working for Jim Parsons, Jr. at the time. 

I'm hoping to learn a lot more from Gary while pursuing "the rest of the story."  

I also enjoyed brief visits with others while making my rounds and snapping pictures.  

It was a great way to spend an afternoon, along with getting a little work done on the side. 

I'm now pushing 66 years old, have lived in this spectacularly beautiful area since Day One, and still pinch myself on days like yesterday about life's good fortune. 

And, let's hope those ZAGS continue to have good fortune in Portland tonight.  GO ZAGS!

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