The hoo-dee-hoos and catcalls echo through the trees, their branches heavy with the burden of newly-fallen snow. A squad lays down virgin tracks in the forest, the sheer euphoria of their collective experience pushing them to feats both unlikely and inadvisable. Convergence at the bottom of the run brings high-fives, embraces, and the other accoutrements of a victory celebration. Then, back onto the lift or skin track to do it all over again. The biggest cliché in skiing is bogus: if you don’t want friends on a powder day you either don’t have any amigos/amigas or you don’t deserve the honor of their company.
Mind you, these have to be true friends: respectful, responsible, on your level. I have many friends with whom I could not keep up on a ripping day and I am confident enough in myself and in our relationship that I let them sail away. I expect the same in the inverse: to saddle your group with your inexpert flailings or your inability to understand how an alarm clock works is selfish, the opposite of the duty you owe to your crew.
Solitary days have their place, a time to be one with your thoughts. This assumes that it is safe to do so. Going alone into terrain that could make you disappear forever, with nobody the wiser, is just plain foolish. Proper precautions taken, there is a level of introspection gained from rolling solo, but the pure joy of sharing a momentous occasion with the people that you love is incomparable. This is true not only contemporaneously, but also in retrospect: reliving those memories is sometimes more satisfying than the action itself.
We may not be able to select our neighbors as we choose our friends, but we still must adhere to a collective ethos in our residential or commercial communities. It can be tempting to be a lone wolf, to eschew the spirit of cooperation as being overly burdensome to our individual interests. This not only ignores the reality of living in a (usually) civilized society, but it also renounces the benefits, practical, social, and otherwise, of having people upon who you can rely.
You might not share something as wholly life-affirming as a powder day with your fellow HOA members, but you might share a sunset view or a bout of fireworks or a bear sighting. These types of mutually enjoyable occasions create and then reinforce a sense of community that dwindles with each swipe that we take on our current tech fetish of choice. And, just as your pals may dig you out of a tree well when you get a little too loose in the woods, so too may your neighbors loan you that needed cup of sugar or jumpstart your truck. We might think we are capable enough to go it alone, but we are either wrong, dead wrong, dead, or just misguided. We are more successful and more fulfilled with people by our side.
If you are the type of fascist that refuses to wait for anyone as you shred pow, then you are also likely the same curmudgeon who constantly complains about minor transgressions of your neighbors or the alleged malfeasance of the hard-working HOA board. Don’t be that person.
The next time you hear the telltale sounds of avalanche control, give your buds a shout. Heck, I’ll ride with you. Unless you’re slow.