Last weekend, Bogus Basin got some snow and everyone — and I do mean everyone — grabbed their skis and snowboards and headed for the ski hill.
The problem was — there is only one way up. The snake of cars was bumper-to-bumper, backed up Harrison Boulevard to the three-way stop and again up top from around the Stack Rock sign.
And it is a winding two-lane road that can be treacherous to drive. I moved here from Colorado 20 years ago and have white-knuckled many a mile up switchbacks in white-out blizzards — I’m not inclined to ever do that again if I don’t have to.
So, imagine how happy I was to let someone else do the driving and take all the worry out of wondering if I was going to make it or find a parking space.
There is an adult bus that goes to Bogus on the weekends and holidays now through March 29. It only costs $10 roundtrip — cash only —and goes up the hill at 8:30 and 11 a.m. You can catch a ride back to town on one of three returning buses — they leave Bogus at 3, 5:30 and 7:30 p.m.
I went up on Saturday’s 8:30 a.m. bus. There were a whole lot of other people making their way individually by truck and car. The difference between me and many of them is: I actually made it to the top.
Some folks tried to make it up the hill in vehicles not meant to drive in winter storm conditions. They were turning around about midway and some didn’t even make it that far.
But even for those who did make it, many had to be turned away because the parking lots filled up and there just weren’t any more spaces to park. On both weekend days, the lots were full to capacity at about 10:30 a.m., said Susan Saad, director of community and customer relations.
“This weekend is the first weekend it happened,” she said. “It was our first big snowfall of the season.”
The mid-morning crunch didn’t last as people started going back to Boise around noon. But when my bus on Sunday was going up around 12:30 p.m., “full” parking lot signs were still posted at the bottom of the hill and midway.
Let’s face it — we’ve had an influx of people to the Treasure Valley this last year like never before and our population is booming. And it’s pretty obvious that most if not all of our new community members are skiers and snowboarders.
Mary Mitchell is the adult bus driver and she is everything you would want in someone driving up a stormy mountain road. She is calm, patient and professional. She’s held a commercial driver’s license for more than 35 years.
She also used to be a ten-pole rider on the rodeo circuit back in the day.
On Sunday, a group of us bus riders chatted amiably about music and movies and food.
“When I hear the conversations, while I’m concentrating on the road, it’s just joyful,” Mitchell said. “My goal for everybody is relaxation.”
That’s the sort of camaraderie you get riding up on the bus.
As you can maybe tell, I highly recommend it, although I am probably shooting myself in my ski boot by letting the cat out of the bag. There are only 24 seats on the bus and it is first-come, first-serve.
As of now, you can’t reserve a spot (although if anyone at Bogus is reading this, I would recommend that as an upgrade to the bus service), and if there is “weather,” the schedule may be a bit loosey-goosey, but all-in-all, riding the green bus to Bogus is a most pleasant way to get up top. You can look out the window at the beautiful scenery for one thing, and you can munch on a Rice-Krispie bar, or read a book (don’t read if you’re prone to car sickness, please) — or, as I saw more than one co-passenger indulge in, you can take a nap.
Saad said Bogus is continuing to explore more transportation options — maybe more buses, added departures/arrivals. After all, there is plenty of room on the ski hill and I honestly did not experience long lift lines.
There is also a youth bus, carpooling is recommended — and rewarded: carpoolers with at least three people get preferred parking in the resort lot at peak hours and on weekends and holidays. Plus there is a new ride share app just rolled out by ACHD that can be used for ride sharing to Bogus.
I just wanted you all to know: There are a lot of ways to get to Bogus, even though there’s only one way up.