The annual winter visit

Thom and Katie have made a tradition of coming out to Montana in February. Fortunately we don’t have a lot of other people clamoring to visit us in the winter, so we have plenty of space and time for them. The first thing we did was head up to Blacktail Mountain for a day on the slopes. It was a gorgeous bluebird day, and the ski resort wasn’t too crowded. At times it felt like we had the whole mountain to ourselves.

Pepper continued working on her snowboard skills. She’s getting pretty good! Here’s a shot of us riding the lift:

As usual, Sefton was my little buddy. He’s getting the hang of skiing, and insists on going down first. Everyone else has to follow him. Fortunately he’s not too slow, and he even went down several blue runs!

We all aspire to be as good at skiing as Thom, but I think that’s all we’ll do: aspire. He continues to run circles around us, although he’s always a patient teacher for Sefton.

The next day we decided to do some snowshoeing. Despite all the snow at our house– which has been on the ground since the beginning of November– there isn’t really enough coverage down in the Flathead Valley. We trucked up to Jewel Basin to find some deeper snow. The road was open much farther up the mountain than I’d expected, so we were able to ascend a bit before trekking through the crunchy snow.

One thing I especially enjoyed about this visit is that Miss Hadley finally became my buddy. She’s always been a little leery of me, but I must’ve tickled her enough and followed her around when she had something to show off. She warmed up to me, and we had a good time taking pictures of ourselves.

Bonus activity for the weekend: shoveling the driveway! Twice! Pepper and I were going to do it, but Katie insisted on joining us. And I mean insisted. “I could sit around in here,” she pointed out, “or get some exercise. Let’s go.” She helped us clear the usual tire paths. Since we couldn’t sled down the driveway or go skiing on it, as we’ve done in the past, Thom carved out a little sled track along the pavement. He and Hadley gave it a test run:

As he pointed out, action shots of sledding tend to look like you’re just sitting still, but trust me when I say they were moving at a good clip. Sefton took a turn:

Katie asked for a ride, and her supportive husband obliged:

Pepper got in on the action as well, although she started up by the house and bumped her way across the lawn, over some rocks, and eventually right onto the blacktop. At least the photo looks more exciting:

The snow was super sticky, so naturally we had to build a snowman (and, at Sefton’s insistence, a snow dog). Here’s the fam posing with it.

As always, it was a grand time and a lot of fun to spend a few days in the snow with my favorite brother and his clan.