My friend Betty and I crouched in the sagebrush taking pictures of the flowers up on the Midvale Hill. She said, “My neighbor used to ski up here.”
“What?” I replied. “Skied? You can’t be serious.”
“Yes. A rancher pulled skiers uphill in his logging sleds.”
She must have been mistaken. There wouldn’t have been enough snow for a ski area here. I snapped a few more photos, thinking only of focus and aperture, trying to capture the vast hillside of buckwheat and arrowleaf balsamroot in bloom, the gold and the cream flowers accented by purple evening shadows.
A few years later, when my oldest son Doug got a Christmas present of a book on Montana’s former ski areas, he said, “Mom, you should write a book on Idaho ski areas, all the lost areas. I bet Idaho has more than Montana.”
I told him no, I didn’t know enough about skiing. He should find someone in the ski business to do it, or write it himself. “You’re the one who knows about skiing,” I said. He had been head coach at a Wyoming ski area for seven years and for a Colorado area for another year before he got tired of the parents of the young racers and went to grad school. Doug kept after me for a year, until I agreed to write the book. I agreed only after he said he’d help me. Soon I was receiving long lists of ski areas from him by e-mail, and bits of information on famous skiers I had never heard of.
That’s how I found myself in the Weiser library, scrolling through microfilm of the Weiser Signal and Weiser American on an ancient reader that sometimes worked and sometimes didn’t. I had remembered what Betty said, and had asked her what year it was that her neighbor skied. She told me it was in the 1930s, and I started looking through the papers beginning after Sun Valley opened in December 1936. Continue reading →