Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Return to the Hood

I love winter.

I love snow.  I love the mountains.  I really, really, really, love skiing.  And - yahoo! - ski season is finally here!

Bluebird day!

Friday was my first ski day of the season.  I couldn't of picked a better day to be up on Hood.  It was a sunny, clear day.  There was hardly any wind.  And the snow wasn't too bad.  The only thing that would've made it perfect was a foot of fresh powder.  But, hey, I ski in the Cascades where true powder is hard to come by. (There's a reason our snow is nicknamed "Cascade concrete")

Views from Ridge Run

Skiing is my most favorite thing to do. I love it even more than running or hiking. What a wonderful feeling to be gliding down a run making perfect turns through the snow. It's as close to flying as you can be.

Sunshine and snow
Skiing gives one a chance to be out in mother nature during the cold winter months.  The snow-covered woods are so beautiful.  All the trees are flocked with a lovely white coating.  When the sun comes out, the snow sparkles like diamonds.

My assessment of the day
 I went up with my friend Kim. There was no school that day, so she brought her two kids and their friends. While Kim got everyone situated, I took a few runs. My first run was pure heaven. I'd forgotten how much I missed skiing over the summer. I was so happy, there were tears in my eyes!

Looking down the Stadium run

In the morning, I started with my telemark skis to practice my tele-turns.  Surprisingly, I didn't forget how to tele during the off-season.  After a run or two, things came back quickly.  My legs even felt stronger.  Must be all that running I did over the summer.

Ooooh.....freshly groomed corduroy
 After some warm up runs, I felt the need to test myself on something more difficult.  The racecourse (Stadium run) was open and groomed.  Usually it's closed for racing, so I had to go and try it.  Once I arrived at the top, I paused to admire the snow conditions.  The slope was perfectly groomed corduroy, and hardly anyone had made tracks on it.  I launched myself downhill, made a couple of shaky turns, and fell on my butt!  But I quickly recovered, and enjoyed the rest of my trip down.

How to do a tele-turn

After an hour, I met up with Kim and we took some runs together.  I got a new smaller (pocket-sized) camera for an early Christmas present, and today was the first time I'd tried it out.  I took some photos, and had Kim take a couple of me (I'm always the photographer, never the subject)  The sunny skies were very conducive to photography.

Kim laughs at my self-portrait attempt

And of course I tried to get a photo of both Kim and I.  Two longtime ski buddies!

Kim strikes a studly skier's pose
Kim and I skied, laughed, whooped and woo-hooed.  We had a good morning of skiing.  Everyone we met on the slopes and at the lifts was in a good mood.  Skiers and boarders are always in high spirits - we come to the mountain to play.  Contrast that to runners on the day of a race, who are always so serious. 

Mt. Hood, lookin' white and wonderful
By lunchtime, my legs were pooped.  So I switched my teles for alpine skis.  Kim's sister was selling a pair of Atomics, and I needed a new set of alpine skis (after six seasons, my old Solomon Screams were toast) so she brought the skis for me to try out.

Kim surrounded by beautiful mountain scenery
Well, it was love at first turn for those Atomics!  After a run, Kim took a photo of me with her iphone, and sent it to her sister with one word - "sold."

I attempt a sexy skier's pose
Those Atomics were a sparkly metallic green color.  I called them my "bling" skis!  I was feeling really sexy makin' turns down the mountain with those skis.

Top of the world view from the Cascade lift

Kim went in early to check on the kids, and I took a couple more runs by myself.  The Cascade lift was open, so I rode it to the very top of the ski area.  The views were wonderful.  You could see the tip of Mt. Jefferson protruding from a low cloud bank.  The afternoon sun was low in the sky giving nice light to the scene.  A good way to end a perfect day of skiing!

My ski season is off to a great start.  Thanks to La Nina, the mountain has lots of early season snow.  And I hear the snow's supposed to keep piling up.  It's gonna be a good year!


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