I recently heard T. S. Eliot’s poem The Waste Land recited. The first line of the piece, which has since become a well-known phrase, is “April is the cruellest month.” While the poem is a beautiful piece of literature and highly regarded, reading it I couldn’t help but to reflect on how differently we as snowmobilers, and winter sports enthusiasts in general, view the changing of the seasons.
Eliot wrote the poem after World War I and was reflecting on the despair surrounding the incredible loss of life in the war. I’m quite certain that he didn’t have snowmobiles or skiers in mind at the time, but the month of April is typically a time of transition. The blower powder days of December, January, and February are becoming a distant memory and the parking lots are suddenly empty of trucks and trailers. However, for the dedicated rider this is often some of the best riding of the season. In the high country, the peak snowpacks are usually achieved in early to mid April. Terrain that is inaccessible much of the season opens itself up to the technical rider that has been patiently lying in wait.
April is also the time when thoughts begin to drift towards other hobbies and the promise of summer. Many riders take part in a wide array of summer activities in addition to snowmobiling. Whether its the dirt bike sitting in the garage, that new boat, or camping trips with the family…this is the time when many riders hang up the winter gear and park the sleds for the year. As someone who tends to chase the snowpack until the bitter end, usually sometime in June, I don’t lament the lack of crowds during the tail end of the riding year. If April is the cruellest month, it is only in the recognition that the winter must end at some point. However, in my mind this is the opportunity to savor each ride and be grateful for the variety of seasons and experiences that many of us enjoy.
Photos by Dave Napier