Podunk Powder

Podunk Powder: A Journey Through Skiing’s Rural Soul

“You wanna know what Fergi’s all about? We take white trash and we turn ’em into skiers.”

Years of cold mountain air and cigarettes layered Tim Turrentine’s raspy voice with the crackle of a transistor radio. An unseasonably warm breeze picked up his long hair and wafted smoke across the deck of Terminal Gravity, a small brewery 25 minutes from Ferguson Ridge Ski Area in Joseph, OR.

“And that’s another thing,” Tim continued, as much to himself as to me or anyone else on the patio that could hear. “It’s a Ski. Area.” He enunciated each word and let out another snort. “I always laugh when they call Fergi a resort, like it has a golf course and accommodations and all that. We have a T-bar!” He laughed some more, which turned into a hacking cough.

I had heard about Fergi the only way anyone really hears about the small ski area at the northern foothills of the Wallowa Mountains—through a local. At least a couple hundred convoluted miles from anywhere, situated on a dead-end gravel road, it’s not particularly easy to find, and the people here don’t go out of their way to change that…

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