Skiing up a Storm
Into Craters’ Teeth
Story and Photos by Kris Millgate
The fresh, white blanket on the ground isn’t staying down for long. The wind is blowing fifteen miles per hour, yanking snowflakes sideways.
It reminds me of what you see when you blow dust off an old album, white particles exploding off a shiny black surface. That surface is Craters of the Moon National Monument. It’s a solitary place, but even on the worst-weather days, there are trucks in the parking lot. One of them belongs to me and my family. We’re looking out our truck’s ice-crusted windows waiting for the wind to die down. When it does, we’ll start skiing.
I think of the comment made by Doug Owen, Craters of the Moon National Monument park education specialist and geologist, when he was prepping me for the winter trail system. “This is my favorite time of year because of the stark contrast between white snow and black lava,” he said. “It’s just amazing.”
As I ski past the campground, I watch the black-and-white contrast slowly slide by. Coal-colored lava rock pokes out of the soft snow like peppercorns accidentally dropped in a salt shaker. I like the contrast, just as Doug does. I like the sparkle, too.