Sunday, April 5, 2009

Skiing, For Real, After All

Weather here in the Northwest has been a bit peculiar this year—colder and drier that usual here at sea level, and, from what I understand, drier than usual in the mountains for January and February. I hadn't really gotten my act in gear for skiing in the mid-winter, which worked out well for me—come March, when I was ready to go, the weather had changed and conditions were thickly snowy in the mountains. What also worked well for me, you might remember, is that there was at least a thin rime of snow in Hobart in March, too, so when I failed to bring half my ski gear with me, I was still able to get a couple turns in.

Well, snow continued to fall in our fair mountains, so Ian and I decided to give it a go together, and yesterday, we were wildly successful. We went to Crystal, of course, my favorite (and most familiar) resort in the area, which meant dropping the dogs at Mom's on the way, but we were in no hurry to get up there—we figured 3 ½ hours of skiing would probably do us just fine, so we arrived around 12:30pm and bought half-day passes for $110 (total), for a savings of $10. It turns out it's really not a savings to buy a half-day—rather, it's a huge bargain to ski an extra 3 ½ hours for only $5 more, if you're willing to leave Seattle at 6:00am. Nevertheless, the snow was new and plentiful, the azure sky glowed over snow-laden evergreens, and the lifts, all high-speed, ferried people up the mountain so fast you barely had time to remove your pole straps from your wrists before you were whisked away.

I was cautious on my first couple runs, and indeed, felt that my leg muscles just didn't have the emergency reserves I was used to employing to keep my balance after an unexpected bump, or to execute the hockey stop to blow snow over Ian. I thought, resignedly, that maybe I was just going to be an average skier this year, that skiing only one time last year, and my hospital stay, and my steady but nevertheless slow return to strength this year, just weren't enough for me to feel like my old zippy self. After a few pleasurable but not spectacular runs, we stopped at the lodge for water though, and after that pause, my legs suddenly came alive again. I whipped down the next hill, legs pistoning, wind and scenery rushing by, Ian left in my spray, the exhilaration of life singing in my chest. Sure, the run I was on was a blue square, but it had a tiny bit of bump action for interest. And I flew down that hill.