When I woke up at 4:30 a.m. on Friday to go snowboarding near Pacifica—the sleepy town with a famously fancy Taco Bell 30 minutes south of San Francisco—I was skeptical that it would even be snowing.
Overnight, the weather forecast had risen a few degrees. The rain was pouring, thunder had kept me up most of the night and all signs pointed to going back to bed.
But in my sleepy stupor, I somehow packed the car and took off to meet Montara local Tim West Jr., who had predicted that there could be a “once-in-a-generation opportunity” to snowboard Montara Mountain that day.
West had lived in Montara, which is just south of Pacifica, nearly his entire life, and I mistakenly assumed that the longtime Mavericks surfer had experience snowboarding down the mountain near his childhood home.
But once we had already embarked on our 2,000-foot climb, I learned that this would be his first time.
In fact, nobody had snowboarded Montara mountain in over 30 years, he said.
“I tried a couple of years ago, but we went up, and it was dry,” West said. “It’s super rare, maybe every five years or so we’ll get a little bit [of snow].”
Suddenly, my fantasies of going back to bed turned into visions of snowboarding glory.
About 20 minutes into the hike, I started seeing mirages of fresh powder and my cold, sleep-deprived brain imagined being one of the first to launch off the mountain’s snowy banks.
At around 1,000 feet of elevation, we caught our first glimpse of what a meteorologist may also have defined as snow. And West seemed confident that there was more to come at the end of our hour-and–a-half slog up his beloved mountain.
He was right.
The granite mountaintop was covered in an inch-and-a-half of untouched powder—just enough to perpetuate my delusions.
I couldn’t even wait to get my snow boots on before sending it down the first tiny slope we came across, and the mountain’s hard and uneven surface scraped the bottom of my board as I moved.
When we made it all the way to the top, West called his wife and his newborn child before strapping into his board. His wife was in as much disbelief as I was.
“I can’t believe what I’m seeing right now,” said a biker who we ran into at the mountain’s peak with our snowboards over our shoulders.
But then tragedy struck. Just as West prepared to go down the slope, the bindings connecting his boots to his board snapped off.
“I charged too hard,” he said jokingly.
West’s bucket list will have to wait for another day. But now, I'm apparently the only person who has snowboarded Montara mountain in the last 30 years.
By the time we hiked down to our cars, all signs of snow had disappeared.
David Sjostedt can be reached at email@example.com