Story and photos by Jann Eberharter
Every day at Mt. Baker is different, which might be why they all blend together. I’ve had the privilege of spending the past seven seasons at the end of Highway 542 and lost count of the powder days years ago – same goes for the rainy ones.
What stands out every year, however, are the people I meet. More than a few long-time friendships have been founded in the morning powder lineup, on the slow commute of Chair 5, or while sitting on top of the Shuksan Arm. Each day at Mt. Baker is a reunion with these fine folks, and I couldn’t think of a better way to spend it than chasing them all over the mountain through powder, rain, sleet or sun. (Preferably powder though, thanks.)
In an effort to preserve that feeling – or at the very least document an accompanying moment – I stuffed a disposable camera in my backpack this winter, vowing to try to take at least one photo a day.
As each season becomes a whirlwind of powder plumes and icy chutes, it’s the little moments that begin to stand out. Like the time I watched three friends ride to the bottom of Mt. Herman, where they all followed the first track off a 10-foot roller, launching to flat, and each creating a separate bomb-hole. And then there was the time we scored first tracks down an ungroomed Canyon with two feet of fresh snow. Or the time last season, when we walked out of the lodge at 2:30 p.m., caught the last ride up Chair 8 and proceeded to walk out the Arm, where we watched the parking lot empty until it felt like we were the last ones on the mountain.
Each of these instants elicits a feeling that never grows old. A sensation that wraps thankfulness, stoke and pure exhilaration into one single moment, usually delivered with an uncontrollable “Yeeooow!” and a big grin.
In an effort to preserve that feeling – or at the very least document an accompanying moment – I stuffed a disposable camera in my backpack this winter, vowing to try to take at least one photo a day. Some days I took a couple, other days I took none. And honestly, I totally forgot about the whole idea until I was digging through the pack before a trip this summer. That small brick of plastic and low-quality 35mm film had just a few of many radical times embedded into it, and without even seeing the photos I was caught in a wash of memories from the season.
The photos are small, flimsy, and in all reality, not amazing. (A couple had my finger covering half the frame.) But what they represent is something much larger – the people, a place and that feeling that I never want to forget.
Originally from Boise, Idaho, Jann Eberharter came to the Northwest to pursue a degree in visual journalism at Western Washington University and stayed for the loamy trails.