It wasn’t the powder day I was looking for to kick off the season but it was a good time. Last year an exceptional skier patiently and kindly led a trip to Red Heather on a dreamy powder day. She never left our side. This time I learned how frustrating it can be to induct eager people to the sport while being surrounded by people zooming down enjoying the powder. I frustrated myself with flat/up and down terrain that made for good ski learning but impossible snowboarding but I didn’t fool myself by thinking that I didn’t have my own incompetencies, either. Going quickly I could hide my lack of skill behind reckless riding but going more slowly, I showed my uncanny knack for sinking into powder/inability to turn with a heavy backpack and feel in control. The skiiers eventually had a great time learning to ski – I could see the same joy I felt last year learning to ski. Though not a snowboarding-heavy day, it was still a jam packed day. We visited five gas station at six in the morning before we found a working pump. On the way back, we saved 20 minutes of hiking by packing our 4 bodies, skis and bags into the back of a truck with two girls who kindly offered to truck us down. I can’t say I was too thrilled by the safety of sitting on top of somebody’s lap, with my head hitting the ceiling and a window on one side, and skis on the other. But to be honest, it was a little funny and a huge reprieve after a 3:30 AM wake up time. We arrived back in the city at 7:30 PM after under $5 dinners at the best cheap samosas restaurant in the town.
It doesn’t feel official to me yet – being a beginner trip, we stuck to conditions very similar to skiing in your backyard, if it were to snow – but it’s a start. And maybe it will never feel “official” to me until I push my boundaries or improve my skills, which are pretty darn limited to making it down a mountain. And doubly not in powder-I sank my nose like a chip coming down for the dip and had to pull myself out every time I tried to turn. It did sprinkle a little on us-but it wasn’t the luscious heavy flakes that turn any landscape into a snow globe. In those kinds of conditions, it really feels like winter in the only thing you know. After an unseasonably warm summer and autumn, I feel unadapted to the cold. It seems unreal that elsewhere people are in their normal winter-time mood, where snow isn’t an oddity and arrives like clockwork, and are anticipating a long and assured winter. I feel like I need to shake off my El Nino qualms, for if I fear, I won’t progress.
It’s probably the most interesting day of the season I’ve ever had, despite how it feels. Outdoors, in the backcountry; mellow as our spot may be, it’s a special spot, a reminder of how conditions exist in a wild variety everywhere, how there’s snow if you hike for it, how skill takes patience and practice but moreover passion.
Here’s to the first day of the season.