Tuesday, February 19, 2008

In Search of Snow

Anybody who knows me knows that I am not athletic. I have no stamina and if I can feel my heart beating I become convinced it's a heart attack. If there was a cancer associated with heart beating, I am sure I would get it.

However, every once in a while I feel the urge to go outside and play in the snow. Actually, when I examine that feeling more thoroughly I realize that what I really enjoy is watching my family enjoy the snow. And so, every so often we go skiing. Thus it was this past weekend.

It seemed like a good idea to go find the snow since it wasn't coming to us. We've had paltry snow this year, with none sticking to the ground for more than 24 hours before being wiped out by either sun or rain. We did find the snow, and just in time, because by Monday when we left, it had been wiped out by 12 hours straight of rain.

I found a nice B&B in Arkville (photo taken on Monday after all the snow was gone; when we arrived it was a winter wonderland) which is near both the Belleayre ski area and Ski Plattekill. A mere 3 hours from home, it is a good distance to drive in a weekend (which Vermont is decidedly not) and also it has to its advantage that it is NOT Hunter Mountain, possibly the worst skiing experience possible. Skiing at Hunter Mountain is like trying to ski in a bus terminal with people rushing around, pushing you, topped off by long lines and lots and lots of ice to slide across. It is a punishing experience.

The worst part of skiing isn't actually the skiing. It's the equipment. It is awkward to carry the skis and poles while wearing very painful hard plastic boots that dig into your ankles and don't allow you to stand upright, combined with too many layers of clothing, sweating underneath, feeling immediately hungry and having to pee, all adding up to starting the day with a fit of crankiness that is not alleviated by the anticipation of throwing myself off an icy cliff.

It turned out that Belleayre wasn't so bad. At the bottom part of the mountain, where I skied, it wasn't icy and the views were beautiful. There was one trail in particular that I liked as it was a little bit longer, had good snow, no ice, some steeper parts for a bit of a challenge, and very few people. Reports from my husband and son who spent their time skiing the blues and blacks at the top, was that it was pretty icy up there so I didn't venture upward. My singular rule for skiing is that I do not fall down. Never. I refuse to fall. I wouldn't mind falling if there was a lot of snow, but this is the east coast where it is pretty hard ground under the few inches of snow. I don't see how that could not hurt.

I am possibly the slowest skier in the history of skiing. My motto is - why go down the mountain when it is so much easier to just ski back and forth across the trail several times, thus avoiding the specter of falling, or of having to look down scary terrain. I can turn a 20 minute trail into a solid hour. Not including standing at the top of a steep hill and crying. The result is that I ski alone. Nobody in their right mind would accompany me for more than one run after they realize they are doing 2 things, neither of them skiing: waiting for me at the bottom, or encouraging me from the top. If they try skiing near me I have to stop because I am afraid of a collision.

I have taken a lot of skiing lessons, mostly from members of Marc's family. The best one was, by far, with Tiger, who skied in front of me BACKWARDS for 45 minutes as we made our way down a very long Colorado mountain trail. Since then, as I ski, I can hear his voice telling me what to do, when to bend my knees, when to stand up straight, and when to turn. It is very comforting. In between I hear Holly, his partner, telling me to breathe. And in chorus, I can hear the whole family chanting "keep your weight on the downhill ski," which is truly the holy grail of skiing advice. I know I am skiing properly when my knees stop hurting and when everybody else on the trail stops passing me, or truth be told, lapping me.

Then I saw the thing that would make it so much better, the piece of equipment that would take me to the next level - those incredibly cool crutches with mini skis on the bottom. This instructor had a pair that even had a little shelf to rest his leg. How cool would that be, if they had a little seat on them so you can rest? Those would be way better than those stupid poles that don't really help at all. If only they offered them for rental...

1 comment:

Angela said...

Ugh, I feel the same way. By the time I get to the top of the mountain I am so exhausted from the experience that I just want to turn around and go home. Of course, there is only one way down the mountain, so I am forced to ski. Snowboarding is the same, but at least with snowboarding, you have one free foot and your hands aren't fumbling with any poles...