SAVED BY STONERS
by Darrah Reid-McLean
This story goes way back to a time before Instagram had taken its reign over snowboard media. Print was not dead, and web edits (not filmed on iPhones) were popular. Gillian Andrewshenko and myself had received coveted invites from Pat Bridges to Snowboarder Mag's Women's Superpark at Snow Summit. We were very young, very excited, and pretty terrified. We were advised by good friend Kevin Griffin to not fuck up any of the features. Most of all, we were warned not to get tapped out by Bridges. After our confidence-instilling pep talks, we were enthusiastically on our way.
Snow Summit is the other mountain in Big Bear, California. We arrived at LAX expecting that we'd easily find a shuttle to Big Bear. And we'd take that shuttle all the way to Gabby Maiden's house, our host for the week. Naive of us. It turns out there was no shuttle, no bus system, and a taxi would have cost us about $1,000. It was early in the day, and we needed some time to regroup and make a plan. So, we did the only reasonable thing we could think of. We found a hostel near Venice beach, dropped our board bags, and hopped on a Hollywood Stars tour bus. Despite being concerned about reaching our ultimate destination of Big Bear, we managed to get into full tourist mode and took front seats on that double-decker bus to take in all the classic sights of Los Angeles.
The next day we still had no plan and no way of getting to Superpark. We took a walk along Venice beach to consider our next move. At this point we were pretty stressed, desperate, and facing the potential devastation of missing out on our dream snowboard trip. We saw a group of people sitting near the busy sidewalk holding a big sign that read, "Will Work for Weed". They seemed relaxed and un-intimidating. We figured stoners were usually pretty friendly, or at least too high to be dangerous. So we approached them. We couldn't provide them precisely with what they desired since we didn't have any weed on us, but we asked them if they would work for money instead. They said yes. We asked them if they had a car and would drive us to Big Bear. They thought about it for a couple of minutes, then one of them said, "Sure! That's only about an hour drive, right?! Let me grab my pregnant wife and our giant drooling dog. We can all hop in my '94 Toyota Corolla and head up there!"
We were on our way! Gill, feeling a little uncomfortable with the situation, sent a photo of the car's license plate to a friend back home and continued to message them for most of the drive. I immediately settled in for a nap.
I woke up to a tense atmosphere. There was a big construction project going on ahead and we were directed to detour. Our driver wasn't happy, but we were already halfway, so thankfully, he kept going. It was already dark out by this time, and he was getting visibly more upset by the minute, but we continued driving up the sketchy mountain road detour. We'd added quite a few extra hours of driving (and just as many smoke breaks) onto our "quick" trip, but we eventually made it to Big Bear in the dead of night. Our driver asked if we could pay a little extra for the trouble so he and his family could get a motel room. Gill and I tossed him all we had, about $50 each, and called it a night.
Over the next few days at Snow Summit we managed not to get tapped out of Superpark and had a pretty great time. I wish I could say I became better at trip planning from this experience, but that would be a lie—my biggest takeaway: when in doubt, look for the weed enthusiasts.