Ten Hail Marys

paying homage, penance, bozeman, montana, humor, etiquette

Paying homage to the outdoor code.

In Bozeman, we all strive for greatness, but—let’s be honest—we have our shortcomings. There’s an honor system for every season, every sport, every single time we go outside. And we’ve all cut a corner once or twice. Don’t lie—you know who you are, and you know what you’ve done. Here are some transgressions that local offenders have admitted to, as well as their corresponding reparations. And if you’re feeling guilty for something you’ve done, come forth and be heard. Confess, my children! The path forward is bright and guilt-free for those willing to reveal and repent their outdoor sins.

Sin: Jackass parking
“At Bridger last week, I was really excited for the fresh snow and didn’t pay attention to how far I parked from the guy next to me. When I realized my mistake, that I’d eliminated an entire parking space, I already had my ski boots on, so I just said screw it.”
Penance: Expedite the flow of traffic
On the next powder day, park one lot away for every inch it snows, regardless of how early you get there. Spend the first hour helping people load and unload the shuttle.

Sin: Nordic annihilation
“I took my spastic dog to a groomed ski trail; he put huge divots all over the corduroy, including the classic track. Oh, and he shit in the middle of everything. But he was way behind me and I was really cruising, plus I forgot a bag, so I just left it there—figured it would get all chewed up and dispersed by the groomer.”
Penance: Go on spring poop patrol
After the first big melt-off, hike up Sourdough with a Hefty sack, all the way to the bridge and back, scooping every pile (and bag) of poo along the way.

The path forward is bright and guilt-free for those willing to reveal and repent their outdoor sins.

Sin: Shameless snatching
“Getting back from my tour up Beehive, I saw a new jacket hung on the trailhead sign, clearly left there by someone else in hopes of returning it to its rightful owner. I took it for myself.”
Penance: Do naked snow angels
Take the coat back to where you found it, shed your own clothes, and dive into the biggest patch of powder you can find. After 20 snow angels, hang your own coat at the trailhead with a “Free” sign under it.

Sin: Selfish skiing
“At Big Sky last Saturday, in the chair before mine, I watched a kid who appeared to be alone wipe out while getting off the lift. She was all splayed out below the ramp. I skied past, pretending not to notice, because I wanted first tracks on my favorite run.”
Penance: Lick a frozen chairlift
Yep, it’s a triple-dog dare, bud, just like in A Christmas Story. On the first lift ride of the next frosty day, glue that tongue of yours to the metal bar and dismount as usual at the top.

Sin: Accidental damage
“On the biggest powder day of the year, I took skis from my roommate, who was out of town, got a nasty core-shot, and neglected to tell him what I had done.”
Penance: Do a polar plunge
Repair your roommate’s skis, then during the next cold snap, take him up to Hyalite with you to let him watch as you cut a hole in the ice and take a bath in subzero temps.

Sin: Slippery schadenfreude
“Walking to work the other day, I slipped on some ice covering the sidewalk outside my house. When I got home later, I grabbed a beer, kicked back in the recliner, and from the window, observed my neighbors stumble and plummet to the concrete.”
Penance: Go on shovel duty
For the next ten snowstorms, shovel the sidewalks and driveways for all your neighbors. Make cookies for the ones you shamelessly watched tumble.

Sin: Mistaken identity
“I shot a Husky, thinking it was a wolf. Damn wolves kill anythin’ they can get their teeth on! So I bought myself one of them predator tags and figured the ones with collars on ’em were legal, too. Just not the ones with nametags, I guess.”
Penance: Move to a different state
Where that sort of thing is tolerated is a long, long way from here. While you’re packing, take some animal-identification classes, rub some calamine lotion on that itchy trigger finger, and apply to be an unpaid intern for the local game warden.


If you have an outdoor sin you’d like to confess, send it to [email protected] We’ll consider it carefully and dole out the appropriate penance.