Oh Alder Tree, Oh Alder Tree ...

Oh Alder Tree, oh Alder tree…

This year, I was a really good girl. I did my homework, ate healthy and even tried to get myself in shape for ski season. I kept thinking that if I was really, really good, Santa would reward me for my excellent behavior and give me the best present I could ever want. No, not another dog, more ski gear or even free housekeeping for a year.  All I wanted for Christmas was awesome tree skiing.

You see, I love skiing trees. There’s something about being able to find untracked snow, deep in the nooks and crannies of Schweitzer that brings me immeasurable joy. Unfortunately, over the last couple of summers, Mother Nature has had a field day and decided to let her proverbial hair grow. And she can grow some pretty impressive locks here in the Pacific Northwest. Her beautiful tendrils of alder grow at a pace that would make Medusa jealous. And unlike others who might have difficulty re-growing cut hair, Mother Nature’s alder has a thing about growing back twice as fast as you cut it.

Alder trees grow like weeds in all kinds of soil types - from swampy to dry and are a tasty snack for deer, elk, birds, and small mammals but not skiers or snowboarders. Hence why it’s not so fun to go riding deep in the woods and get stuck amongst the branches. It’s a tough wood and even in the deepest of snow packs, alder finds a way to grab the edge of your board and send you flying.

So brush cutting is something that needs to happen. And happen often. Last winter, I talked to Santa and explained that all I really wanted for Christmas this year was to get some of those untidy spots around my happiest place on earth wacked back into shape. And you know what? The old guy listened.

This past summer, out in the depths of Phineas’ Forest, Revenge, No Joke, and Kathy’s Yard Sale, a team of intrepid foresters came through and helped trim back the alder and mountain maple. They mowed, cut and sawed, clearing places for the snow to fall. And once they were done there, they headed to Recess, Detention, Study Hall, and calmed those wild natural tresses as well. They even spent time on Upper Cathedral, Upper G-3, Abracadabra and the Bottom of Stella smoothing the natural roughness growing on those runs. Overall, this wonderful group of people help trim back 57 acres at Schweitzer in places that my skis have longed to explore.

It was hard and arduous work but I’m so grateful for what this crew did on the mountain. There will be room once again to make turns in some of the coolest spots at Schweitzer, flowing between the tamaracks, white pine, and older growth. Skiing these quiet forests is one of my biggest winter pleasures and one of the best ways I have to be close to nature.

La Niña is here and Schweitzer is looking good. Thank you, Santa, for my fabulous Christmas present … not just under but amongst the trees. 

This article first appeared in the December 2017 issue of Neighbors, a supplement to the Bonner County Daily Bee.