Well, I sure don't want to encourage someone to do anything dangerous, but out here where there are no resorts, junior high kids go bootpacking with cheap boards they got on clearance at Sports Authority. They also know how to read avalanche forecasts and pay attention to the terrain. I learned to ride last year at Thompson Pass with a pair of snowshoes and a Charlie Slasher I got for $250, boots I found on clearance, and borrowed bindings. I read Snow Sense and Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain, and stayed on fairly low angled stuff well away from the potential runouts of anything steeper above me.
This year I want to use a wider variety of terrain, so I bought a splitboard ($750 including skins and bindings) and am taking an avalanche course taught by one of the local forecasters. I already had most of the other gear I need, which does add up, but you can find some good deals out there. If you have no idea what kind of gear you need or how to get uphill without a helicopter, it doesn't sound like you're ready for anything very serious. If you just want to get off groomed icy trails, maybe take a road trip up to the UP this winter and see if you can't find some real snow, but do some reading in the mean time.