On that day, the “bowl cat” wasn’t running. There was no way to cheat the hike, and I prefer it that way. It guarantees a full hike to the top in peace and quiet. Part of Highland Bowl’s allure is a wonderful and spiritual connection with nature, escaping the noise and distractions of “the real world.”
I hiked briskly, while shouldering my fat skis to the Main Gate at the edge of the mighty bowl. It was still roped off at noon. A compact, but excited group of locals had gathered. This “meeting of the minds” grew to a few dozen skiers and snowboarders. Ski Patrol finally stepped up and the rope dropped down. The wind picked up and all seemed right in the world.
After a challenging hike — feeling exhausted in face-battering wind — I managed to be one of the first fortunate arrivals to Highland Peak at 12,392 feet. (All that hiking with my dogs this fall paid off!) Would this be a day for powder hounds? The increasing gusts — pushing to over 40 mph — drove us to the leeward side of the peak, where about a me and half dozen skiers bundled up, buckled up and got set for the first adventurous descent of the ski season.
Heading skier’s right toward Child’s Play, it was me and one other guy “skiing by Braille” down the untracked gully. I knew banking up to the right or left could be sketchy, considering the rock formations beneath. So, I let the other guy go first! Looking and listening, I more or less “figure-eighted” his line and fortunately didn’t hit anything underneath.