words: T. Bird
photos: Mike Yoshida
I've had the idea in my head to take a few of my best friends from college on a snowboard trip for a few years. I went to Plymouth State University in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, a school that has spawned many a professional snowboarder and a handful of well-known people in the snowboard industry. When I got there, I didn't know many people but after my first winter riding Loon Mountain and Waterville Valley, I had collected a solid yet small group of like-minded individuals and our similarity in ideology made us very close. After we graduated, the group scattered around the country, with a few staying back east and a couple making the migration west. I somehow lucked out and got a job at SNOWBOARDER, but most of our crew nestled into nine-to-five jobs yet still found plenty of time to ride. At least once a winter, we would get to take a few laps together when I was back east for work and no matter how scarce our communication was between us before those chairlift reunions, once we were on the hill, that all dissolved and we fell right back into our old ways and it all just felt so natural.
For the last eight winters I've been on so many remarkable trips around the world and the one recurring thought that always forced its way into my stream of consciousness was that I wish my friends could experience it with me. The one mountain that I wanted to show them was Mt. Baker. It's hands-down my favorite place to ride in the world and in my personal opinion, one of the most magical places I've ever been. There's just something about Baker that can't be put into words, so it's rather ironic that I would want to write a story about a trip to Baker with my best friends, however, there was nowhere else that would've done this trip justice.
In September of last year, I phoned my buddy Jacques–a schoolteacher in Newmarket, New Hampshire. I asked him what the dates were for his February vacation as the fantastical idea of this trip slowly started to become a bit more of a reality. When we got off the phone, I called Brian Norton–the Terrain Park Manager at Loon Mountain, New Hampshire. I told him the dates that Jacques could go on a trip and he said if Jacques booked his ticket, he would lock his in immediately. Long story short, Jacques got his ticket a few hours later and Norton followed suit. I sent out two texts–one to Eamon Rubira, a teacher in San Diego and one to Reid Casner, my roommate and the Action Sports Marketing Coordinator at New Era. They got their tickets the next day.
We flew up to Seattle and for the next four days, we were treated to the best that Mt. Baker had to offer. Two days of waist-deep blower pow followed by two days of warm, sunny, windless springtime conditions. You simply can't get Baker better than that, and I can honestly say that in my eight years working at SNOWBOARDER Magazine, I've never lucked out with the weather more so than on this trip. Our Social Media Manager Mike Yoshida made the trip down from BC to help document our days lapping Baker and we couldn't have asked for a better tour guide. Yosh has Baker dialed and he showed us some amazing zones and shot some surreal images. All in all, it was the best week of my winter and even sitting here in So Cal reminiscing about it while behind a desk brings back a wave of nostalgia that makes me want to live it all over again.
I guess this was simply a small way of thanking my friends for years of support. They've been there for me through some really good and really trying times, and I'm extremely grateful to have them in my life. More importantly, if it weren't for snowboarding, I would have missed out on some unbelievable times with some unbelievable people, and I firmly believe that is the main reason we are all so drawn to this culture, because when it comes down to it, no matter what outside influences are distracting you, nothing feels better than a good day on the hill with your best friends.
I'd like to thank everyone at Mt. Baker for their hospitality, most especially Jeff Sroke and Amy and Gwyn Howat. Make sure to keep an eye out for the full print feature of this story coming to newsstands this fall.