LIFE, LIBERTY, and my PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS

Colorado has large mountains and they are very beautiful. Skiing is very fun and it makes you feel good about yourself when you do things like go down double black chutes without dying, or ski better than Dan (granted, sometimes he telemarks). However, chairlift conversations can be lacking in intellectual substance, which quickly becomes stifling and/or regressive to one’s own mental capacity. Everything is a tradeoff, I suppose.

Still, subsisting on sub-par levels of O2 makes a girl realize a few things about the world, humanity, and herself.

THE WORLD

The world is big, and sometimes it falls on your head. This is not recommended. Sometimes your head falls on the world, though this is not recommended either, as it causes headaches, and in extreme cases, concusses you.

Going down is easier than going up, but that makes it scary because it is fast. Slowing down is also very difficult. For a non-strenuous interaction with the world, we recommend going horizontal.

The sun is strong when the atmosphere is thin. This means your face will hurt if you are not adequately prepared.

Heavy, wet snow is less gnarly for shredding, but it is much better for staving off dehydration as it actually melts into water droplets.

HUMANITY

On a chair lift, even Winston Churchill would be reduced to speaking in the following manner: “Dude, I totally f*cked up my skis in those trees on that last run. I’ve got like this mega core shot.” “Dude, I don’t know, those trees were sick.” “Dude, did you see that skittle just take a total face shot and yard sale?” “Dude, check out those gapers.” “Dude, I caught so much air on that jump.” “Dude, you should check out ____, it’s totally untracked. Freshies!” “Dude, this pow is gnar. I’mma shred it so hard.”

Speaking like this is natural and encouraged in this environment. Other acceptable topics include how much PBR you drank last night, how much weed you smoked in the hut between the Haul brothers/how much weed you are going to smoke in the hut between the Haul brothers, reveling in the amount of powder, bemoaning the lack of powder, how much PBR you’re going to drink as soon as you get down to the base (or to a hut, or on the lift), “grumbling” about gouges/scrapes in your skis/snowboard but really just showing off how badass you are, and general overuse of the words “dude,” “like,” “gnar,” “shred,” “pow,” and any and all curse/swear words. (Mom: you should bring your jar to Colorado. You’d be rich.)

Conversations about politics, world affairs, government, current events, religion, culture, movies (unless related to skiing and/or that one about the kids who get stuck on a chairlift and are subsequently eaten by wolves), music (unless telling people what you’re rocking out to but only if they ask), food (except when referring to pizza as ‘za and as long as you simultaneously mention how much PBR you are going to drink with it), work, Texas (unless you’re making fun of gaper Texans), and generally anything suggestive of an IQ above, say, 90.

MYSELF

I do NOT want to be the kind of person who “goes on vacation.” Going on vacation is hard. It is a chore. You have you ask your boss, and then you have to plan it, and then you have to stress out about it, and then you have to pack, and then you have to sit on a plane with other crazies who are “going on vacation” and are ridiculously stressed out about it. (Oh, you have to gate check that steamer trunk? Maybe you should have thought twice before bringing three blow-dryers and your entire collection of Barbie dolls.) The worst is knowing that a “vacation” is invetiably going to come to an end.

I much prefer “going away.” It is indefinite, glamorous, and romantic. People with the last name Hepburn probably “go away,” to Europe or South America or other formerly exotic locations. Yes, I am going away to the mountains, to Colorado, no I do not know when or even if I shall return, so sayonara, that means good bye, until next time…

Yet still people insist on wishing me a “nice” or “good” “vacation.” Oooh and it makes my toes curl; not in the good way. Me? Someone who goes on vacation? Why, that’s simply impossible. I’m a rebel! A renegade! A revolutionary! I do not do such commonplace things as vacation. People who go on vacation have jobs and apartments and boring, real people lives. They have sick days limiting how much they can be sick, and vacation days, dictating how often and for how long they can disappear.

But me, on vacation? I must have lost my magic! I am no longer interesting or unique; I am a sheep, one of the masses! I have forsaken my spirit, my individuality, by inadvertently wandering wayward onto the path which deigns to allow me such lofty privileges as to “go on vacation” one week at a time for the rest of my life. I am just like everyone else, and that makes me sad.

Road Snowpacked and Icy – Slower Speeds Advised

Five inches of fresh (heavy) powder reported at 5 am this morning. At 11 am, it was still snowing. Trees were silent and the snow was dense. Snow flies in your eyes from every direction. Thirty-five mile per hour (35 mph) winds thrash your face. Zero visibility up, zero visibility down, and forget side-to-side. Fly off the chair to avoid its whip. It’s possible you just might make it, skating uphill into brutal headwinds. Trees come out of nowhere and all of a sudden you’re safe. That is, until Travis starts mini-slides at you from above. A gust of wind comes at you and the white-out is blinding – quite literally – until it subsides. The trees protect; the trees hoard. Exposed, the wind blows you uphill; up and over the ridge, down into the bowl, cutting the only tracks through knee-deep snow you plunge back into their embrace. Four hours of mind-numbing, bone-chilling wind are made worthwhile by endless stashes hidden deep in the forest. Ah, springtime.

What NOT To Do On a Powder Day

Catch an edge.

Catching an edge on skis, much like on ice skates, leads to outside forces pulling on your extremities in terrible ways. This is especially true when going fast, and is especially easy to do in powder. Well gosh darn it, I should have known. It is also a particular threat when old injuries are still nagging, and is rather embarrassing when the little gaggle of nice people stopped to help REALLY want to call ski patrol. Well, we all know that would never fly.

Skiing bumps on one leg is also rather precarious and inconvenient, as is trying to carry a helmet and poles while doing so. Perhaps I have learned my lesson, at least until tomorrow when I am sure to do this whole thing all over again.

Toys Aren’t Just for Boys

Yesterday disappeared somewhere in between sixteen inches of fresh snow and demoing skis all day. It must be karma that the powder always comes in time for my days off.

I went into it with the intention to, if not buy, at least pick out the exact skis I wanted when I could find them for cheap at the end of the season. As luck would have it, a pair of 164 cm K2 MissDemeanors were hanging above the demo desk, marked down not once, twice, or three times, but four markdowns to $143. In between demos I stealthily asked what the deal was. Oh, one or two seasons old? Retails? Never been skied? I demoed the men’s version and loved them; they take powder, quick turns, solid edges…exactly what I was looking for. I wouldn’t have been able to find a better deal. On sale bindings and a 15% discount later, at the end of the day I walked out the proud new owner of a sweet $209 pair of skis, mounted and ready to go.

So of course, despite the paralyzing pain my muscles were in after five hours of powder, I somehow managed to make it out of bed this morning because I just HAD to ski my new skis. And they are awesome. I don’t think I can wait until tomorrow morning to ski.

Shred the Gnar

All of a sudden people have decided to go skiing, which in turn means I’ve been exponentially (or perhaps linearly) more busy with work. I’m currently operating with one day off a week, although next week I’ve swung having two in a row. Unfortunately Monday is President’s Day so that’s out for skiing. Tuesday will have to be epic.

As far as skiing goes, although my skiing-all-star friends don’t believe me, I’ve gotten far better at it. You can pretty much put me anywhere on the mountain (again, except the Cirque) and I’ll be fine. It might take me a few minutes but I’ll make it. A good example of this is Trestle.

Trestle is a pretty gnarly, long, mogul-studded black diamond on the Jane side of the mountain (best bumps in North America!). After a foray through some trees the other day I was unexpectedly shot out at the top of Trestle and Roundhouse, a blue groomer. Boo, hiss. Being by myself with no one to judge or laugh, I decided Trestle it was.

And it was awesome. February has been a bit improved over the last few months as far as snow, so the few inches of fresh powder felt awesome under ski. When I reached the bottom after several teasing flat spots I was high as a kite. It was by far my best run of the season up until then, and a major confidence booster. Take that, naysayers!

A few days later, I brought boy with me. Taking the same indeterminate route through the trees we ended up at the Roundhouse/Trestle split. My disclaimer: “I know I talked a big game about Trestle but it’s still really hard. I’ll probably fall a lot. But we’re doing it anyway.”

And of course I didn’t fall a lot. Two hours later he turns to me and says, “It was about halfway down Trestle that I realized that’s what ‘shredding the gnar’ really means.”

Yeah, we shred that gnar. Shred some serious gnar.

Mundane-ity

Excellent skiing today, all things considered. The one inch of reported powder turned out to be closer to 4+ and it kept snowing all day. Low point: white out at the top of Panoramic and strong winds. High point: basically everything else. Trees, bumps, it was all soft and fabulous and the silence of the falling snow…

…which, all told, made it an excellent night to make some bread. And realizing it was Thursday and tomorrow is Friday (hey, you never know) I have also set my first high-altitude challah to rise. I think it should be delicious, but then, is challah ever not?

Steamboat Things

Excuses: losing my phone, working crazy hours, and sketchy wireless.

But at least life is *exciting*! On Tuesday, a collective day off, a few of us went to Steamboat to check out another mountain. As much terrain as Winter Park has, it was nice to be somewhere different. At least that’s what I thought until we started skiing. The front side of the mountain was a legitimate ice rink, worse than anything we’ve had here all winter. After lunch we headed to the backside of the mountain (haha, backside) where the powder was deep and the trees were plentiful. Those few runs in and of themselves were worth the trip out. And it’s quite a lovely drive. Sadly, though, I was as excited by the “big” town of Granby as a Kansan in New York for the first time. That’s what a small town will do to you.