Discovering Powder King by chance (an account by Mike Mannelin)

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Mike Mannelin, of Kodiak, AK, recounts his first time discovering Powder King by chance:

The date of my event is unknown, but if I had to guess, I would say October-ish, somewhere in the late 2000’s. I was driving the Al-Can south, heading to Montana for ski season. It was pretty much a yearly migration for me, as I would work in Alaska during the summer seasons, and ride chairlifts all winter in Big Sky.

I pulled over somewhere in BC to take a break from the road and sleep. I would pull my skis out of the back of my 1988 4Runner, along with a few boxes of gear, and slide them underneath the vehicle, leaving a perfect little space to stretch out.

I woke up the next morning to about a foot of fresh pow. I shoveled my gear out from under the car, and started packing it back in. As I was loading my skis, an old-timer walked up from across the highway.

“Are you heading to Powder King?” he asked.

“Where’s that?”

“Just around the corner there,” he said, pointing down the road.

“Wow, I had no idea.”

“It’s going to be good today,” he said. “I’ve been skiing there for 40 years!”

He asked if I could pull his truck out of the ditch there across the highway. We hooked up the 4Runner to his truck and got him back on the road.

“See you on the mountain!” he said.

I drove a little further, saw the sign for Powder King, and turned off the highway. I remember the inviting atmosphere in the cafeteria as I geared up for an unexpected pow day. At the top of my first chairlift ride, I hung around looking for somebody to ski with. A dude got off the chair solo with some big fat skis, so I said hi.

“Follow me!” He said. We rallied knee deep pow all day long, through every nook and cranny of that amazing playground. As I got back in my truck to head south again, I couldn’t believe this little hidden gem of a ski area had popped onto my radar like that. The people I met, I won’t remember their names, but I will remember that powder day, and how it came to be, for the rest of my life.

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