By Ashley Lodato
Eight of about a dozen Methow Trails groomers celebrated the end of the season on Thursday, with just two of them needing to wrap up the party a bit early so they could complete their final grooming shifts of the winter in Mazama and the Rendezvous. Apparently being a trails groomer is a little bit like living in “The Cremation of Sam McGee” — you just never know what queer sights you’re going to see out there.
One Rendezvous groomer shared a story about her Pisten Bully springing a leak in a cell phone dead spot at 3 a.m. when it was 17 degrees below zero in late December; she parked the groomer and skied out to Gunn Ranch in the dark, constantly looking over her shoulder for the cougar whose tracks dotted the trail in the circle of light cast by her headlamp ahead of her. I recalled another groomer telling me of the topless women in a Wolf Creek hot tub, toasting him with champagne glasses held in the air as his lights flashed over them (although it seems quite clear who was flashing whom in this situation).
And a Mazama groomer recalled a night in 2002 when the ladies of Mazama were holding a Tupperware-type party, only the items of interest were not plastic containers but, well, devices designed for private self-indulgence. The party was in full swing when the lights of the Pisten Bully lit up the living room of the hostess’ cabin, fully illuminating the array of sample items on display.
All groomers agreed that coming upon a fresh deer kill was both eerie and unsettling, despite the protection offered by the grooming machines.
Groomers talked about pulling motorists back to the road after they had begun driving down the ski trails, led astray by GPS and navigation apps. The Twin Lakes road crossing just west of the fish hatchery is a popular place to take a detour off the paved road, as it was apparently once the actual route to Wolf Creek Road. One grateful couple handed the groomer a wad of cash after he spent an hour helping them dig out their car; the tip turned out to be two $1 bills rolled up together.
Sun Mountain Lodge did it right, though. When a groomer freed one of their plow trucks in a massive storm, Sun Mountain managers thanked him with a free night in the lodge. That groomer has been seeking out stranded Sun Mountain vehicles ever since.