A composite (but not exactly invented) dialogue with my future spouse, circa 1999:
SHE: So you’re from Montana?
ME: Damn straight!
SHE: You must do a lot of fly-fishing.
ME: Well ... you know you stand in the water, right?
SHE: Mmm. Hunting?
ME: Those people wake up really early.
ME: I got kind of hypothermic the one time.
ME: Mais oui—nordique!
Yes: every winter since Oregon lured me, I look eastward to see Mount Hood gleam like the world’s most beautiful broken tooth, home to the snowy funlands we detail in our cover story. And here I sit, child of the Mighty West, who never learned how to downhill ski. As noted, like every other radicchio-cooking culture-war caricature, I enjoy cross-country skiing. Downhill always struck me as a lot of gravity, wrongly applied.
But last year I decided, what the hell, you only live once.
At Cooper Spur, the charming little hill on Hood’s east side, my instructor was a granite-carved Swiss; my form, that of a terrified bunny. The chairlift petrified me. Again and again, I dissolved into a wailing cannonball. Again and again, snow punched me in the face. The instructor waxed philosophical, like, “You’ve got a lot of guts, man.” Which was a nice thing to say.
Did I learn to ski? No. But I learned to want to. (I also learned, don’t take your phone. I lost mine in a crash. But then the only other person I knew on the mountain looked down at a random moment and found it. So, win!) Adventures—with caveats about physical injury (and losing your phone)—are important. In a time of untruthiness, a slope’s fall line is not up for debate. In a time of dysfunction, physics will still definitely function. And if, Bilbo-style, you seek the mountain riches within sight of Portland, gravity is good.
Editor in Chief