Minnesota: Wild Mountain and Welch Village

Talk about riding in the Midwest, and arrange meet-ups.

Minnesota: Wild Mountain and Welch Village

Postby John » Sun Nov 27, 2005 6:17 pm

While there's little reason to travel to either Wild Mountain or Welch Village if you live outside of Minnesota or western Wisconsin, they're two of the areas available to local residents.

Wild Mountain (http://www.wildmountain.com/skisb/skisb_home.html) has a history of being the first area in the Twin Cities metro region to open for the season. I was there on opening day. Only one trail was open during the short time that I was there, but it was good to get back out on the snow. The lift that was open is snowboarder-friendly, sending riders on a reasonably flat descent that could be ridden out for a while without any turns.

They say that one area of the lodge has WiFi access, but I didn't have my computer that day, so I didn't check it out. If you want to get in some quality riding time, though, and yet need to check on some work projects, this could make for a great combination.

While Wild Mountain is to the northeast of the metro area, Welch Village (http://www.welchvillage.com/), is to the southeast. I rode there a fair amount last year, and went there for the opening day of the 2005-06 season. It was, perhaps, the last of the ski areas in the Twin Cities metro to open. One expert and one beginner's run was open.

As you might find across ski areas early in the season, the terrain park was not open. As I'm not too skilled in the park, the absence of rails, fun boxes, kickers, and other features gave me the opportunity to take in the whole width of the expert run without having to negotiate man-made objects.

The most unusual aspect of the visit, though, occured even before I even sat in the chair lift. When I got there, the lifts were not yet operating, and I followed another rider over to the lift, to wait for its opening.

After we had stood there for a minute or two, a young guy, on skies, came up behind us. "Do you mind if I cut in?," he asked. "I've been here since 7 o'clock, waiting to be the first one up."

"That's fine with me," I said. "I didn't get here until 8:30, so you go right ahead." The other snowboarder gave his approval as well.

After a few minutes, another guy came on skis. An older man, he had on a classic ski jacket that you don't always see in the Midwest. "I'm afraid I'm going to pull rank on you," he said to the young skier. "You see, I have a tradition of being the first one up here. In fact, I've been waiting here since the summer for this. I'm the owner."

Well, how often is THAT going to happen?

We had a pleasant conversation, mostly about his most recent ski trip to Europe.

Fascinating. Whether it's in glaciers in Europe or on small hills in the heartland, the joy of using gravity and slippery surfaces to make turns is the same. Welcome to Winter!
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