23 January 2008

hat, coat, gloves...

...skis, boots...pole? It's seldom that one arrives at the ski resort with two ski poles, and leaves with only one, but that's what I did today.

Knowing that Eric would have today off, and that mid-week would be an ideal time to hit the slopes, we planned this trip a few weeks ago. I wiggled out of the office--I don't look forward to my desk or inbox tomorrow). This morning, we set off for breakfast at one of our favorite places on the way, only to be informed that they were hosting a banquet and therefore not serving breakfast to the public. Not an auspicious start, but we pressed on.

We watched the outside temperature drop and the wind pick up as we approached Stevens Pass, and we started to really think about how cold it was going to be on the slopes. Brrrr. And boy, was it ever cold. I remember only a couple of times ever being so cold as I felt as we got ready at the car. My fingers were in true pain from the low temperature, even inside my gloves. All bundled up, we arrived on the slopes to some truly great snow (well, as great as it gets here in the PacNW--no boasting from my readers in Utah and Colorado, ok?). It was cold, but not windy, and it was absolutely cloudless. Blue sky from north to south and east to west. I scarcely remember such a perfect ski day on the west coast.

We were having a great day, and about three runs in, Eric told me on the lift that "something clicked" with his turning (he's always been a very cautious skier and focused mainly on getting down the hill in one piece, not how to do it with flair), and that he was feeling much more comfortable. We refer to it now as the epiphany. He skied here, and he skied there. He skied on the backside of the mountain (where they seem to apply a different set of criteria when categorizing the runs, so if you ask me, he even skied some mild black diamonds!), and he did it faster than I've ever seen him move on snow. It was fantastic! Did I mention that it was cold?

On the backside, we took one run that had more moguls than we'd anticipated, and after negotiating them, I called up to Eric that he would be better off on a different route. He took that route and skied out of sight. We hadn't yet skied this portion of the mountain, so I wasn't sure that where he had gone was going to meet back up with the trail I was headed towards. So I kicked off my skis and started hiking, rather than polling and skating uphill. After about six steps, Eric came gliding around the corner, no problem. But when I went to put my skis back on, the left binding refused to lock me in. Eric had to lean over and manualy pull the locking device into place. It worked, but it was clear that these (15 year old) bindings were showing their age. I've been considering new boots for a few years now, but it's hard to justify the cost when we only ski once or twice a season. After the binding incident, Eric pointed out that there will likely be some decent prices on boot/binding combos towards the end of the season, and we headed for the lift.

Apparently, I got carried away with his rapid improvement, and when we were loading onto one of the lifts, I completely spaced out on when to move forward from the "wait here" line, and my right hip collided with the approaching quad chair. I am just fine -- not so much as a tiny bruise on me. Fortunately, my pole took the brunt of the impact, and afterwards it jutted out at about a 45 degree angle. The liftie had done his best to scoot me out of the way, and I felt awful about making such a gratuitous error. No real harm done, Eric scooted up and we boarded the next chair. I was (am) just embarassed for my mistake -- I've been boarding ski lifts for over twenty years now, and suddenly I forgot to look out for the approaching chair! Well, my poor ski pole paid the ultimate price -- knowing that it would need to be replaced, and not wanting to have to deal with a rediculously tweaked pole, I tried to bend it back, but ended up snapping it into two pieces. Hm. So I pitched it into the trash can at the top of the lift and skied with my lone remaining pole for the rest of the day. Now I'll have to add poles to my boot and binding shopping this spring.

The rest of the day on the mountain was good, but more dropping temperatures and rising exhaustion drove us in at 3:00. We concluded the day with coffee and a brownie, packed up our stuff and headed home.

I had to take a photo of this tiny two-seater lift that serves one and only one run, a double black diamond called Seventh Heaven. We passed it several times, but I only ever saw one person on the run or the lift.


Wayfarer Scientista said...

hey! Package arrived safely!!! THANKS!

Mary Jane said...

I used to ski Steven's!

froghair said...

*used* to? not anymore?

Anonymous said...

I have to say that in the absence of any better takers I go to a sledding hill by the old cottonwood mall and sneak one to three rides down it by myself when no one else is there and there is at least an inch of powder.
even at whatever age I have arrived
the snow is exhilerating to me by myself with nobody around.
aunt j

Anonymous said...

It sounds great. It seems that ski trips that have a few unique experiences generate stories that live longer than most anything else. I remember when Hal, Lloyd, and I (all had been skiing for 30 or 40 years each) all tried to sit down on a double chair (Hibernation) - we looked like the three stooges.