Natural Rainbow Rail, Vail, Colorado.
Photo by Tyler Phelps
Click on image for larger view
Any snowboarder that's been lucky enough to be invited into a "locals stash" while on the mountain knows those glades don't just magically appear. If you're a snowboarder that's never been lucky enough to be invited into a "locals stash," listen up: When fresh powder is scarce, you want to be in-the-know as far as local stashes go. Because only a small portion of the riders know about them, they hold snow longer than anything else on the mountain. Summertime is prime time for cutting - the weather is good, the mountain is accessible, and the hunters have yet to appear in the woods.
Before you break out the chainsaw, make sure you're not breaking any laws - local, state or Federal. Cutting down anything on Federal lands is a crime that can result in severe penalties, as two geniuses found out after cutting down 873 trees near Jay Peak, VT, an incident now infamously referred to as "The Cut." Assuming you're good to go legally, take it easy, and make sure to adhere to the code of the trees: Only remove small trees, always obscure the entrance (lest the general public start wandering in and plundering your powder), and above all else, don't tell the entire world what you've done. That last one particularly applies to the Facebook fiends out there...nothing ruins a great secret stash like an announcement that goes out to the entire student body.
Once you've got your stash locked down, it's time to build some toys. Natural rails, log jibs, and anything else you can imagine can be built using forest materials. When building natural rails, keep in mind they're meant to be ridden with snow on the ground, which means building them higher than would be otherwise needed. One of the most challenging (and therefore, most fun) natural jibs is the natural rainbow. These are built by staking the top of a young tree to the ground, then allowing it to grow. Just do yourself a favor, folks - make sure the landing is clear!
For more ideas and further reading, check out Future Snowboarding's take on "Do It Yourself Logging" this month. Happy cutting!