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The Forgotten Ski Bum

Features
posted: 09/13/2004

For 46-year-old Rick Reed, ski-town life isn't about a stimulating career and blower pow. In fact, we have no idea what life's about for Rick, except that he sleeps in his van at the base of Boyne Highlands, in Harbor Springs, Michigan. And, mind you, Boyne features a 550 vertical-foot drop.

Skiing: Are you the only bona fide ski bum in northern Michigan?

Reed: Pretty much. Last December, I ran into a kid who was living in a Ford Explorer and we were comparing notes on what kind of mummy bag we use and where to get free food. I keep talking to people in the hot tub and they're just amazed: "How can you sleep in your car? Aren't you cold? I tell them, "Hey, it's just like camping out, like climbing Mount Everest.

Skiing: What kind of a rig are you living in?

Reed: A '94 Chevy van with 260,000 miles. It's got a busted windshield and a primered hood. No heat—unless it's running.

Skiing: Is it true that you hold the mountain record of 142 runs in a day?

Reed: I went out at nine o'clock and went up the chair three times before another customer got on. So one of my buddies brought out a board and wrote my name on it and started making tally marks. I said, "Now you've started some trouble.

Skiing: What kind of pacing and speed does that Boyne mile-stone require?

Reed: The most you can get is about 14 runs in an hour—if you're pushing off the chair and going straight. When you're flying down, you're probably hitting 50 to 60 miles per hour, and you can't see very good. Everything's a blur.

Skiing: How's the social life in Harbor Springs?

Reed: Well, I don't get out much—I'm broke, unemployed. I've got a season pass, which lets me use the hot tub and the pool area and the exercise room, so when the lifts aren't open, I'm hanging around the pool. As far as nightlife, I haven't had any.

Skiing: Is there something in Michigan that all those mountain-town migrants out West are missing?

Reed: I wouldn't encourage them to come here. I would try going out West—I loved skiing at Big Sky—but I kind of keep to myself. I think I'd have trouble finding someplace to shower.

Skiing: So, it's all about the perks?

Reed: People probably think I'm missing out on powder days and longer hills, but I've been thinking about that. When you've got a longer hill, you've just got longer chairs to get up there.

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