I was hooked on the first ride, already high on her fumes when I grabbed the towrope. Ten miles disappeared in an instant, our secret backcountry A-frame reached before I could caress her heated handles. Maybe it’s the shape of her skis, those curvaceous sticks gliding through deep powder like sculpted legs through a silk slip. Or her ample tail, with its chrome pipe billowing out intoxicating vapors.
Her power, too, stokes my desire, but I tend to go with the old adage that we yearn for what we cannot have. My wife, a staunch minimalist, absolutely will not allow me the pleasure of owning a snowmobile. But that hasn’t stopped me from lusting after my neighbor’s ride—deadly sin or not.
Once my buddy and I double-teamed her—he on one grip, I on the other—up and over a ridgeline trail. We rode her all day, accessing thousands of feet of untouched fluff in a bowl somewhere up None-Ya-Business Creek. By the time we got her back in her trailer, her oil and our sweat-soaked ski pants needed changing.
I was once an idealistic human-power purist, confined to the narrow view of the skin trail. My maté-drinking friends and I would bitch about snowmobiles as those screaming engines invaded our favorite drainages, turning them into quasi–ski resorts. Similar not-so-subtle complaints have blown up into full-on altercations all over North America. But I was seduced nonetheless.
And I’ll admit that my roving eye isn’t confined to my friend’s sled. My wife and I will be eating by a restaurant window when I suddenly become transfixed by the 300-horsepower trailered beauty a luckier man is pulling to the curb. She’ll recognize the look in my eyes. “I feel like she’s coming between us,” my wife will say. “I just want it to be you and me. The skin trail is so simple.”
“Skin trail, schmin trail,” I’ll reply bitterly. “Why don’t you let me take you up None-Ya-Business on her and we’ll do 3,000 feet before you can say mohair.”
But she refuses, wounded by my penchant for power, my love of lots: lots of laps, lots of vertical, lots of fun.
She doesn’t want to see the maintenance bill. She says there’s no room for another lady in the garage. All I can do is sigh. “I’ll be at the neighbor’s,” I concede. “He just bought a new ski rack for his Yamaha.”