Words and photos: Ralph Kucharek
Merriam-Webster defines euphoria as, “a feeling of great happiness and excitement.” From February 10th – 12th dreamers, lifers, friends, and the Bonfire team made the pilgrimage to Washington on a search for euphoric times. All those at the Mt. Baker's 31st Annual Legendary Banked Slalom experienced great happiness after two consecutive powder days and a bluebird Sunday.
Beau Bishop guarding the entrance to his future of Baker powder in next year's Aspect Jacket.
It was a year since the first Bonfire Free Range trip, which all started at Mt. Baker. That’s where I met Beau, Johnny, Jenna, and Parker. Coming back for more was Beau Bishop who drove south of the Canadian border from an epic winter in Whistler to take a break from his sled and ride with friends, while Johnny Brady drove north from a buried Lake Tahoe to come compete and enjoy the LBS. Team manager and mom, Jenna Kuklinski came back to try her luck in the course and catch up with the team, while Nikita’s own Nirvana Ortanez joined to come compete and score powder.
Jake Blauvelt, possibly blinded by the flat light or the amount of speed he took into turn three.
After two days of battling with the course, my mind, and falling very short of finals it was time to go for a hike. On Sunday, February 12th Jenna, Nirvana, Amanda Hankison and I started hiking up the ladder-like boot pack on hemispheres to traverse over to the arm. Other than a few wispy clouds the sky was clear and deep blue, it was a glorious day to be alive. We hiked for thirty minutes to safety line where we found gently rolling powder fields and a small glimpse at the course.
Facing Mount Baker and Table Mountain from, "The Arm" where views take your breath away as much as the hike.
From our vantage each rider looked like a speck. It was high noon and men’s pro finals was on, the first name we hear being Bonfire Alumni, Josh Dirksen who we watched effortlessly navigate the course with his unparalleled prowess. Temple Cummins dropped next and was followed by Nils Mindnich, a Vermonter that tackled the course with a much looser and noticeably quicker run, even from afar.
Our view of LBS finals finals from out on The Arm.
At that moment we had truly balanced soul-fulfilling powder turns with watching the best snowboarders on the planet say their prayers. Only at Mt. Baker could this be done. Over the course of five days in Washington, which were full of moments that brought great happiness and excitement, that one stuck out most to me. Until next time Mt. Baker and crew.