Thursday, January 21, 2016

Skiing Weekend Warrior

Over the weekend we went skiiing at Willamette Pass.  I stayed for most of the day on the bunny slopes called "Sleepy Hollow." This is where kids learn to ski; it's a nice wide, gentle slope.

Snow fell at first, but turned to rain around 10 AM.  I think I would have been fine except the chair lift was wet, so my butt and hands were soaked by the end of the morning.  Luckily, I was wearing enough layers so that I didn't feel cold.  Still, that wet squishy feeling on one's butt isn't very dainty.  

The most difficult part of skiing was getting off of the chair-lift.  It was calibrated for eight-year-olds, meaning that the bottom of the chair was about a foot above the snow.  I needed a geriatric chair-assist, bionic quads, or an eight-year-old's legs to sit up at the top of the lift.  There were a couple of times where I was struggling to stand and slid into a pile.  The last time, I rolled off of the exit-ramp to avoid any other skiers, under the path of the chairs as they swung around on the line, and nearly got clocked in the head by a chair.  I felt like a failed James Bond as the chairs swung over me and I tried to right myself.  The chair operator stopped the lift and helped me up, and I asked her for some tips (get out before the line that says "exit here").

Once I got the hang of getting off of the chairlift, I had fun.  My favorite song to hum skiing down hill is "Premadona" from "Phantom of the Opera."

We had lunch in the lodge, which was vaguely like eating in a high school cafeteria.

I did want to have a romantic co-ski with Mark on another beginner slope called "Duck Soup," but OMG, every time I had to make a right-hand turn on some of the steeper parts, I ended up wiping out.  I'm going to guess one of those times I jammed my right index finger, which I didn't notice until the next day.  The second wipe-out I did hear my neck crack like I was at a chiropractor's.  The third wipe-out, I stupidly buried my skis' tips into a snowbank.  Mark's snowboard needed to go more quickly than I liked, or he'd get stuck in the wet snow, so I'm afraid it wasn't the most fun run for him.  We did enjoy the lift up through the trees, though.  

The temperature dropped in the afternoon and it began to snow again.  At one point, I simply stood and watched the snow falling over the firs and pines.  A fine mist shrouded the top of the mountain in thickening grey veils of falling white flakes.  The dark green trees - lighter green lichen cascading down their trunks - became black and then greyer and greyer with the distance until they became one with the mist.  The falling snow accumulated on the ends of the sagging branches, white highlights that also became one in the greyed distance.  And all around, beneath the squeaks and creaking of the chairlift, the sliding crunches of skis on snow, the whispered pats of falling snow, and the voices of young skiers, there was a sense of a vast, slow, sleeping from the trees, as if they had collectively paused at the end of a monumental inhalation and would exhale into an even deeper sleep. 

At the end of the day, a bunch of Middle-Eastern tourists, who seemed new to skiing (one of them was at the bottom of the chair trying to put on a ski on backward) and were more interested in going down the hill as quickly as they could until they fell in an explosion of snow, arms, skies, legs, and poles.  Then they'd laugh and yell to each other.  And do it again.  They seemed friendly enough, but we were a little worried their antics would involve colliding with one of us.  

It was wonderful getting out of my ski-boots at the end of the day,  but three days later, my calves still ached. Ow.
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