Northwest spirit is alive and well at Meany Lodge

Last winter I learned to ski at the Summit at Snoqualmie. This year, my husband took me further up the road to Meany Lodge, near Stampede Pass.

Meany Ski Hut was built in 1928 by the Everett and Tacoma Mountaineers, with generous funding from Edmond S. Meany.

Meany was a history and forestry professor at the University of Washington and president of the Mountaineers for 27 years. A Renaissance man in his own time, Meany was the former editor and publisher of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and friends with Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce.

His passion for the Pacific Northwest is alive and well at Meany Lodge.

The hut itself has an old-fashioned feel to it. A mammoth, wood-burning Sears and Roebuck furnace in the basement heats the upper three floors. Art and wood carvings decorate every place you look. Stacks of puzzles and games keep kids busy after dark and armchairs line the walls for quiet places to read.

Two common sayings are “Meany is the best place to learn how to ski,” and “If you can ski at Meany, you can ski anywhere.”

Some of the areas are groomed, but most of the mountain is deep, thick powder that has been untouched all week. There are 450 vertical feet and 32 runs of every difficulty level.

There are no lines and no crowds of people. There are also no chair lifts, so skiers have to master the three rope tows: Turtle, Worm and Mach.

It took me a full day to learn how to use a tow gripper, and I spent half of that falling down on the Worm tow and watching my son zoom up Mach with a “See ya later, sucker!” expression on his face. (He’s been going to Meany since he was little.)

Anyone can come to Meany Lodge, not just members of the Mountaineers. It’s only open on the weekends, though, and you need to sign up midweek on their website. March 7-9 will be the last weekend Meany is open this winter, but they have fun things planned for the summer, too.

Visitors need to be flexible and willing to pitch in.

My first trip to Meany, I got the full experience. The snowcat bringing us all up from the parking lot broke down and we either had to wait for help or hike a mile uphill.

Luckily, my husband had warned me about this possibility.

Unfortunately, I’m a wimp. While he turned into our kids’ personal sled dog, I barely kept up. But when we got to the lodge, hot chocolate was waiting.

Later, our whole family helped clear tables and wash dishes. At night, we snuggled in our sleeping bags in the respective men’s and women’s dorms.

My daughter and I listened to 8-year-old girls giggle until 10 p.m., and then everyone slept like logs. (Maybe there was a sleeping potion in the food.) We woke up the next morning to fresh snow and another full day of skiing.

The core group of Meany regulars are called “Meanyites,” and it’s easy to see why they are so committed. Meany reminds me a lot of Girl Scout camp.

A place that has been so loved by so many generations of people has a sacred pull to it worth honoring. I think if Edmond Meany showed up at the hut next weekend, he’d still feel right at home.

Jennifer Bardsley is an Edmonds mom of two and blogs at teachingmybabytoread.com.

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