Powder Magazine launched its gear guide (which I've read cover to cover). Ski Utah announced it's "Ultimate Powderhound" competition finalists. Industry magazines are releasing their resort guides. Early bird season pass sales are coming to an end. And the leaves are changing colors. Ski season is officially on its way!If you're anything like me, you've been looking forward to this season ever since you tearfully put your skis away last spring. And if you're anything like me, which I'm guessing you are since you're reading this post, there is more than one reason why you live for ski season. Is it the face shots? Maybe it's the apr├Ęs ski scene? Or maybe still it's the people you meet? In honor of the impending season, I present you with my latest series of posts - "Ski Season Means..." From now until the lifts start spinning, I'll be posting regularly on the things I love and look forward to most about ski season. Consider it my personal effort to spread the stoke!Hitchhiking - I know what some of you are thinking. Hitchhiking? Really?! What does that have to do with ski season? I will answer your questions with a question. How else do you get up to the mountain when your car is not considered "safe" to drive in the winter, you have no money for gas or you missed the bus heading up the canyon? The answer, and my main mode of mountain transportation this past winter, is hitchhiking.Before you judge me and the other local hitchhikers you may pass by on the road, let me just say that hitchhiking has gotten a bad rap. Contrary to popular belief, hitchhiking, particularly to and from Salt Lake area resorts, is safe, fun and surprisingly efficient. As evidence, my longest wait this whole winter was a whopping 10 minutes! Even our public transportation busses can't compete with that! True, I could have ridden the bus or even carpooled with friends, but hitchhiking, in my opinion is part of the skiing experience. It allows you to meet new and interesting people. It allows you to trade stories and share secret stash information. And if you're lucky, it leads to a friendly beer in a crowded ski bar at the end of an epic day.I've hitchhiked with and without my gear. I've hitchhiked in snowstorms and on beautiful days. I've hitchhiked with fellow hitchhikers and I've flown solo. All have led to different experiences and results. But all have helped me formulate a few key ideas on what works and what doesn't when it comes to hitchhiking during ski season. Here's what I know:
  • Thumb positioning is vital. Too high and/or straight screams desperate. Too low says, "I don't really care." A slight bend to the elbow with the thumb at a 45 degree angle to the ground is perfect form.
  • Tall tee = long wait.
  • Luggage = longer wait. Traditionally, the more gear you have the longer you'll wait. Tip: Hitchhike fully dressed (ski boots on). The appearance of less gear makes you more likely to be picked up.
  • Smile. Look excited. And for god sakes try not to act hung over!
  • Sport resort gear. If you've got resort apparel wear it with pride! The resort name and logo gives you credibility.
  • Ditch the headphones. Nobody wants to pick up someone who won't say a word the whole ride.
  • Share the wealth. A thermos of coffee or box of donuts can do wonders for your wait time - think about it!
  • Early bird gets the worm. Show up early. Those heading up for first chair are more likely to pick you up than those rushing to get the last of the freshies.
Consider these tips my hitchhikers guide to, well . . . hitchhiking. Hopefully they help you in your quest for fresh tracks. And the next time you see a hitchhiker on the side of the road, pick them up. After all, its ski season!Follow the rest of Joe Johnson's "Ski Season Means" series at Two Feet to Adventure.