Tuesday, October 14

The Day We Tried To Ski

Every year, in late February, we make the only trip of the year up mountain to find out how much we suck at skiing compared to last year. On my father-in-law's birthday the whole family meets up at Snow Summit in Big Bear. At Snow Summit you can ski for free on your birthday, hence the occasion. We rent a cabin for a couple of nights which makes for a nice comfort after beating oneself up all day on the slopes. Driving back down the mountain exhausted and your body hurting was miserable when we did it.

Typically, Southern California ushers in a huge storm the preceeding night, which usually means; 1) treacherous driving conditions, 2) great skiing.

This year, right on cue, a storm swanied into town late Thursday night. So as we do each year, we arise with some trepidation at the crack of dawn, or earlier. Pack up the car with all our warm clothes and snow toys. Grab a coffee. And try to beat the commuter traffic on the 91 freeway, then ultimately wind our way up the San Bernadino mountain range via Route 38.

It was clear, however, that as soon as I got up and looked outside the day would be less than great. It was grey, damp, cloudy and no visible sign of land above 150 feet. As we sloshed our way toward the summit it was obvious we would not  be needing the snow chains in the trunk. The rain had melted any snow on the road and luckily the cloud cover kept the temperature above freezing so damp was all we got.

We stopped for coffee and breakfast at Running Springs, just before Big Bear on the 38. Here, The Sprite got his first snow play of the weekend, climbing the ploughed-snow verges with Everstian determination. Unfortunately we only had wool mittens for him, unable to find toddler sized snow gloves anywhere. Unbeleiveable I know. He did have some good thermal undergarments and snow pants and jacket and the cold did not seem to bother him.

Once we met up with the rest of the family it was almost unanimous that skiing was out of the question. My brothers-in-law both decided it was worth a try, but they are significantly younger than the rest of us, and as such clearly willing to suffer for their cause. Or their thrills. As it turns out, despite visibility being alsmost nil at the foot of the ski slope, the fresh powder was outstanding, and the dampness did not make the snow 'sticky' at all. Basically, the conditions were incredible. I went out for a walk to shoot some snoe photo's in the afternoon, and the snow underfoot was like tiny little ball-bearings. Crump crump crump. It sounded as good as it felt. I felt a tinge of regret as I walked along some deserted back alleys, breathing heavily in the thin air.

I kinda wished I had sucked it up and gone skiing.

Especially as the next morning, a Saturday, the road outside our cabin that led up to Summit resort was bumper to bumper with eager skiiers and snowboarders, hungry for some action on the fresh snow. To add insult to the situation, the sky was clear blue. It was going to be a GREAT days skiing. If you could weave your way through the masses on the slopes. My father-in-law swore years ago he would never ski on a Saturday again for the very reason there were just too many people for it to be any fun. He's skied there for 50 years and seen it grow to it's current scale. He's earned his right to be picky. So, after breakfast, everyone packed up and left. A bit of an anti-climax to all that great powder.

Next year. Just hope I don't suck doublefold for having missed a year. 


1 comment:

David said...

I *cant* believe you didnt go skiing!! *ugh* Pure heaven skiing with the snow falling!

The Hockey Sweater is a wonderful book. The NFB made a short film based on the book. If you havent seen it, it's a must see.