Sunday, December 4, 2011

Back in the Saddle

There's nothing I love more than skiing.  Not running.  Not camping.  Not even hiking.  Nothing.  Skiing is my most favorite activity of all.  Period.  When November rolls around, I'm stoked for ski season.  I watch ski movies, bring my gear out of hibernation, and begin checking snow reports, plotting my return to the slopes.

Back where I belong!

This year, our local ski areas opened the weekend before Thanksgiving.  But they were only reporting a skimpy 20 inch base, not enough to cover the rocks and stumps.  In the interest of saving my ski bases, (not to mention my body if I should fall) I normally postpone my return to skiing until the resorts have a solid 3 foot base.

A sunny, but windy day

This past Friday looked to be the day.  Mt. Hood received a good dumping of snow over Thanksgiving weekend.  Although the snow level went up during the week, the melt/freeze cycle ensured a good solid base.  Icy, but solid.

I had Friday off.  The weather forecast was for sunny skies.  Time to head for the mountain and make some turns!

My pretty new gloves!

The first day on the slopes always requires more preparation.  I have to gather up all my gear stored in various places around the house, try on my ski pants (and hope they still fit!) and check my jacket pockets for last year's left-over treasures (sometimes I even find money!).  This year the only new piece of gear I picked up was some cool new gloves.  When I dropped off my skis to get waxed, these lovely little babies called my name.  Finding a 20% off coupon for the ski shop made for an easy purchase decision.  These gloves have every feature I need, and then some.  They even have little zippered pockets on the top for inserting hand warmers.  How cool is that?

Friendly shadow

Friday morning after driving through alternating rainstorms, I happily pulled into a sunny Mt. Hood Meadows parking lot.  It was wonderful to see my home hill again.  As I stepped out of my car, I was hit with a puff of wind.  I looked up to see the flags all flapping around.  Yes, it the day was sunny, but it was also windy.  Wind is never a good thing when you're skiing.

Hood is lookin' good

I grabbed my telemark skis and headed for the lifts.  As my chair crested the final hill, I was hit with a strong gust of wind.  On top, the first run down was a wind-blown sheet of ice.  Ugh!  But once I got into the trees, both the wind and the snow improved. 

Even with the long summer off, I was happy to see my body hadn't forgotten how to make tele-turns.  As a matter of fact, I felt like I was picking up from where I left off last year.  My knees dropped easily, and my ski edges cut through the icy snow.  Oh, how I've missed doing this!

Low clouds and Mt. Jefferson

I headed over to the Shooting Star lift to check out the runs there.  The wind was a little calmer, and the snow a tiny bit better.  I made lots of joyful laps down the trails.

Grant Myrdal Photography caught me in action!

Then I saw Grant, the resort photographer, setting up on Shooting Star Ridge.  Even though I have a reputation for wiping out in front of him, I couldn't resist the opportunity to get my picture taken.  And Grant's a really nice guy (he takes good photos too).

So I skied down past the photographer. And I actually made some great turns and stayed in control the entire time. A first! The morning sun had melted the icy snow on the run, so it was fairly soft and skiable. It was so nice, I made a trip back up and tried it again. And again. I gave Grant lots of photo ops!

Makin' tele-turns (photo by Grant Myrdal)

There were no lift lines to speak of, so I didn't get much rest time. After making tele-turns in icy snow all morning, by noon my legs were toasted. But I felt good that I'd lasted so long. I silently thanked Stacey, who teaches the powerflex class at my gym, for forcing me to do endless reps of lunges.

New lift!  Niiice!

After eating lunch and relaxing in my car, I switched into my alpine skis for the afternoon. This year Meadows has a new chairlift.  They replaced the old Stadium chair with a high-speed quad, and first thing after lunch, I jumped on to try it out. I have to say, Bravo Meadows! This is the best improvement they've done to the resort - ever! This lift comes right down to the base area, so now on busy weekends, skiers have two choices for rides to the top. This will really cut down lift lines.  And it takes you directly to the Shooting Star and Hood River Meadows (HRM) areas. No more weaving through intersecting trails, and skiing up a hill to reach Star and HRM.

The view from HRM

After tele-ing all morning, skiing with my heels locked down was so EASY!  And I didn't tire out near as quickly.  I zipped down the slopes, and ventured into some non-groomed areas just to check them out.  After chattering through some rock-hard windpack and ice, I decided to stick to the groomers.  I slid, turned, carved, and soaked in the sunny views, all with a huge smile on my face.  I was in my happy place.

Finally around 3 o'clock, my quads let me know they were done.  As I was taking off my skis, I ran into photographer Grant.  Grant told me he'd gotten some great photos of me and I should come and have a look.  Well of course I had to check it out, and ended up buying three of his shots. Grant got tons of good photos - it was hard to choose!

I'm in my happy place!  (photo by Grant Myrdal)

But this was the best photo of all.  The expression on my face speaks volumes.  I'm so happy ski season is here.  Oh skiing how I've missed you!  Even though today's snow wasn't the greatest, I still had a blast.  As I drove home, my brain buzzed with positive energy and happy thoughts.  My ski trip put me in such a good mood, I didn't even mind fighting through rush-hour traffic to get home.

It's good to be back.

:) :) :)


  1. Great photos, but that last one was a real winner! Looks like it was a wonderful day. It really makes me want to hit the slopes, something I haven't been able to get to for several years.

  2. I've never been. Loved the photos. It is kind of on my "someday" list, but pretty low as I'm not big on being cold. Love all the sunshine in your pics. MO winters tend to be so gray.

  3. It looks like you had a great day. I love the photos!

  4. Great pics. I love skiing too but I don't have skills like yours. Awesome!!

  5. looks like so much fun! I've never skied before, but it's on my list of things I want to learn one day


Don't be shy! Please leave a comment.