Tag Archives: winter

Powdah

8 Jan

powdah

There are some families that are downhill skiing families. You know the types. They all have their own equipment and they all – yes, all – wear those helmets that have fake fur popping out of them, so they look like they have giant manes sticking out of their helmets, when really – BIG SURPRISE, HERE – they are just wearing: HELMET COVERS WITH TUFTS STICKING OUT OF THEM.

ski-tuft

(A photo, for reference.)

They pack sandwiches with delicious red peppers and copious amounts of deli meats in them, and they all sit around in the lodge and eat chips and drink beer and then somehow manage to get back onto the slopes.

They can be overheard saying things like, “Amazing powdah today,” or, “Billy was shredding up Death Rock but said there was gnarly ice on the West side,” or “It was a fat dirt patch but I 375ed my way around it and landed in a righteous patch of moguls.” (They were all talking stocks and comparing their Forbes covers.)

They know the lift operators and the store vendors. Actually, they know everyone on the mountain. For them, walking into the lodge food court is like walking into your own wedding – you know about 75% of the people there, and to everyone you don’t really know or recognize, you give a knowing nod or wink or high-five and say something like, “It’s a great day out there!” or, “She really is a beaut, isn’t she?” (At your wedding, you’d be referring to your bride, but on the slopes, you’re referring – from what I gather – to the mountain.)

If I sound petty or jealous, it’s because I am both petty and jealous. There is nothing I hate more (except for a ton of other things that I hate, like videos of tiny animals doing shit) than not being “in the know” about something. Ironically, I am usually the last to pick up on things, so I essentially live my life in a prolonged state of frustrated anxiety about not knowing the things that I want to know. (Tiny violin for the slow processing, “fringe” girl.)

My family is a cross-country skiing/hiking/snowshoeing/ reading by the fireplace family. My family has never been a real “downhill skiing family,” and it is one of my biggest, darkest insecurities – one that rears its head for one day every winter.

We go downhill skiing once a year. I don’t mean like one week per year – I mean one day (actually, more like one half-day) per year. We don’t own any equipment, and we always spend the days leading up to our trip up north hobbling together mismatched, old snow pants and winter coats. I usually roll up to the mountain looking half like a six-year-old boy and half like a 1980s college kid who decided to “hit the slopes” with her “guy friends” over a long weekend.

We went up north during the days between Christmas and New Year’s, and we dedicated one day to downhill skiing.

Downhill ski families are usually dressed and in the chairlift line by 9am. At 9am on “downhill ski day,” I was undressed and wondering where I’d put my toothpaste and whether or not I had time to clean my retainer. This may not have created a huge delay for us, if we all owned our own equipment…which, if you remember, we do not.

10am rolls around and all five of us – plus my cousin, Julia – have wandered into the ski rental place. But not the main ski rental place at the base of the mountain…no, no, we decided to rent our skis from “the other guys.” As if there weren’t enough ways for us to not fit in, now we were renting less mainstream equipment?? This is like asking your parents for a Bratz doll for Christmas and instead getting a Carlos Santana CD (because Bratz are “trashy,” but Latin American rock fusion music is the gift that keeps on giving).

I don’t care if you rent your skis from Lindsey Vonn herself – renting equipment is chaos. CHAOS.

Mom needs another size because she has “problematic arches”; Lydia has a phobia of skiing and so is trying on hats, to numb her fears with retail therapy; Dad is missing his wallet (spoiler alert: it’s in his snow pants pocket); Cecelia is too short for average sized poles and so now the hipster snow bunny men need to find her child poles; cousin Julia has forgotten her goggles and is wearing a smelly neck warmer that probably has snot on it from 1996; Sophie has an abnormally large head and is trying on a helmet that is squishing her Jimmy Neutron squash harder than a mom of four squeezing a stress ball. (Never mind the fact that the day before, she’d been hit in the head by a giant log that disconnected from a tree during a lovely winter wonderland walk, and so was painfully struggling to maneuver her lumpy, disfigured squash into said helmet.)

The entire rental scene was enough to make anyone throw in the towel and head to the bar (and by “anyone,” I mean me). But press on we did.

Equipment rented, it was time to drive up to the mountain! We approached the mountain entrance, only to be yelled at by a balding man in a neon vest who claimed they were not allowing any more cars to drive up to the base, and that we’d have to park in the overflow parking.

The “overflow parking” was actually a petit field, stuffed to the brim with confusedly wandering kids and huge Escalades (not too dissimilar from a celebrity kid party, I’d imagine).

My dad kept referring to people as “wide loads” and my mom was waving her arms while still inside the vehicle, apparently expecting people – whose backs were turned away from her – to get the memo and make a path for our car. Shockingly, no one cleared a path.

We finally found a parking spot, before realizing that the ever so convenient “overflow parking” was nearly a mile –downhill– from the base.

Holding all of our gear, we trudged our way up an incredibly icy and snow-covered path. I made a few too many highly insensitive comparison jokes about the Trail of Tears, and then – rightly so – nearly got hit by a rogue, slip sliding Escalade that decided it was above all of us and would just casually drive its way up the trail.

We arrived at the base hours later, totally depleted of protein and completely sweat-covered.

In that moment, we were nothing but renters who’d been forced to walk to the mountain because they hadn’t kicked their asses into high enough gear to get to the mountain on time, and everyone knew it. They could smell it on us, like a parent sniffing weed on a nine-year-old. (Invest in some body spray, you nine-year-old newb!)

And I found myself, once again, with so many unanswered questions about downhill skiing, such as:

  • How can you wear those fucking boots without feeling like you’re stuffing your pudgy feet into cement blocks and attempting to run a marathon?
  • Don’t you mind not being able to pee for long periods of time?? What, do you all have the bladders of camels?
  • Aren’t you fucking freezing? What, are your gloves lined with animal flesh? That is sick.
  • Why are your snow pants so skinny legged and streamlined?? Why are mine so fucking puffy and in the way?
  • Why are you forcing your screaming kid to ski? You heard the girl – she doesn’t want to ski! Leave her alone in the lodge with one of the 700 people you happen to know at this mountain, instead of telling her it’ll be “bed without suppah” if she doesn’t get outside right this instant.
  • Back to the peeing question: how do you not emerge from the stall all sweaty and red faced from peeling off layers of tightly fitting athletic apparel? Honestly, my “stall time” is the most exercise I get all day during a ski trip.
  • Why are you letting your kid poke me with his pole? Did you raise him in a barn? Tell him to get the poker out of my back!
  • Why do the French fries cost $10? Are they magic? Will I, too, be a “shreddah” if I shovel them into my gourd?
  • Why are you sitting alone and knitting at a table for six, when there are about ten million people waiting for a seat in this godforsaken food court?! Unless you’re knitting me a fucking neck warmer that won’t ricochet snot back into my face, I suggest you MOOOVE.
  • Why am I here? How did I let them talk me off of the Nordic trails and onto the Alpine mountains of Hell?

***

This particular half-day of skiing cemented my status as a downhill skiing outsider. But, it also ended with me telling my parents I wanted to do a second downhill day. This may have been due to the fact that one of the hipster snow bunny men grazed my hand while I was returning my skis, and I felt a shot of sexualized adrenaline toward him. It could also have been due to the fact that I’d managed to survive the day, without obtaining any more head injuries. Or, it could have been that my original head injury caused me to confuse downhill skiing with things that I actually do love, like my mom’s meatballs and when I wake up and realize that my hair is clean.

Regardless, I was on a skiing high (which is more than I can say for that poor weed newb of a nine-year-old).

The next day, when 9am rolled around, I forced open one eyelid and checked my phone, which told me that it was 9am and 17 degrees outside.

The cross-country trails were beautiful, that day, thanks for asking.

 

 

 

A Solo Ski With Biggie

12 Jan

There are some days when I feel like I’m excelling at life. Like last week, when I made a kick-ass caramel hot chocolate and got the cocoa to whipped cream ratio exactly right; or this morning, when I got my dog to walk an ENTIRE circle around the block without having to pick her up and carry her home (which used to be a cute little routine of ours, but which is actually horrible when it’s cold outside and I’m wearing long johns and have morning breath).

But not every day can be a, “Wow, how did I GET so awesome” kind of day, you know?

In fact, there are some days that make me wonder how I have managed to survive and function on this planet for the last two decades.

Last Saturday was one of those days.

After last week’s snowstorm – during which I did nothing but perfect my whipped cream to cocoa ratio and catch up on television that I was already caught up on – I felt like maybe I should do something nature-y. 

I could just watch the Discovery Channel, I thought. That counts, right?

Switching from one TV program to another to make myself feel better about the state of my life is a trick I have used since my youth.

I used to pull the “TV alternating” trick on my mom when I was little. If she told me I’d been watching too much “silly TV” and needed to shut it off, I would casually suggest that I watch something more serious and educational, such as “Bambi.”

(For some reason, I thought this cartoon film about an orphan deer was what my mom had in mind.)

On this particularly lazy day, I tried to convince myself that a documentary about a rare type of South American slug was just as valuable as some time spent in the great outdoors…but for some reason, my conscience wasn’t having it.

So, I forced myself to head to Great Brook Ski Touring Center, where I would meet my sister and the rest of the Cross Country ski team for an afternoon in nature.

When I got to the ski center, I saw that a cop was directing traffic into the parking lot.

Oh. No.

This could only mean one thing: it was one of those days where everyone and their uncle would be on the trails, taking up room, having picnics, and falling in the way of traffic.

As I entered the lot, a nice employee signed me in and told me I could park in a “special lot” for season’s pass holders.

“The lodge by your parking lot has flushable toilets…” he said, before winking at me.

Hmm. Was that supposed to be a friendly comment or…do I give off the vibe of someone who really enjoys prolonged stays in public restrooms or…are you just trying to make me feel like a VIP even though you’re sending me to park by the lodge that is nearly a mile down the road and has NO snack stand?? 

“Wow, fancy,” I responded, before leaving lot “We Don’t Flush Here” and heading to the Land of the Golden Potty.

When I finally parked my car, I had this feeling that I had forgotten something important. 

My furry pink earmuffs that play music and exude both style and function?

Nope, I had those. 

My season’s pass sticker? Wait, crap, where did I put that? 

False alarm, it’s dangling off of my ponytail…naturally.

What could be missing??

Skis. Skis could be missing.

And skis were missing.

I contemplated giving up, getting a latte, and heading home. But that seemed really lame, considering my skis were in my sister’s ski bag, which was at the lodge sans flushable toilets.

When I drove back to the first parking lot and explained the situation to the toilet guy, he smiled at me in a way that said, “You seem nice but also kind of scattered and all over the place, so I’m going to let you into this lot, but just know that I will check your car on the way out to make sure you haven’t stolen anything.”

It was a fair trade.

After running around the lodge looking for my sister’s ski bag, I found my skis and made my way back to my designated lot.

Okay, now I can finally get out onto the trails! 

Let me just put on my ski boots. Wait, the zipper is broken. How did the zipper break? Maybe if I tug on it really hard it will…oh dear. I think I made it worse. The zipper is no longer attached to the boot. Yes, that is definitely worse. Oh well, I’ll just fashion a makeshift zipper out of…nothing. I have nothing. Whatever, zippers are for the weak! I don’t need to fasten my boot all the way! I’ll just tie it up and hope that the universe spares me any significant ankle injuries.

Okay, let me just rest my skis on the car while I put my keys in the tiniest, most hidden pocket in the back of my ski shirt. Wow, why am I wearing twelve layers? I’m beginning to doubt the existence of this mystery pocket.

Found it! My keys are all zipped up and safe.

And my skis are falling. There they go. Are they moving in slow motion? They’re definitely moving in slow motion. 

Whoop, they just hit the deck.

Did that lady in the car next to mine just hear me yell, “shit nuggets” as the second ski went down? She definitely did because now she’s looking at me the way you look at a person who yells about shit nuggets while standing alone in a public place. 

“What, you’ve never heard someone combine the words ‘shit’ and ‘nuggets’ before? Back off, lady!”

Alright, get your shit nuggets together, Sophie, and walk over to the trail.

Wait, you didn’t lock the car…and the car keys are hidden betwixt your 85 layers of nylon. That was a great idea to put them away BEFORE locking the door, Einstein. Should we give you your MacArthur Genius Award now, or should it be more of an après-ski kind of thing?

Okay, the door is locked. Start walking.

Hey, check out that swanky lodge. Are those bathrooms, I see?

NO, Sophie, do NOT fall prey to the allure of the flush. Just keep moving.

Aw, okay, just one peek.

……………………………….

WOW, was it just me, or were those the most FLUSHABLE toilets to ever grace Earth? I feel like a queen. I’m definitely going to write about those in my diary.

Time to ski!

Wait, why do my gloves look so similar? Nobody told me I need a different glove for each hand! I thought I could just bring two right-handed gloves and everything would be fine! Is that not how this works?

SHIT. NUGGETS.

Time to walk back to my car, delve into the nylon forest, obtain my keys, search for the other glove, delve back into the nylon forest, put the keys away, and walk back to the trail.

Finally, FINALLY ready to ski. I’ll just put my iPhone on shuffle and listen to my headphone-earmuffs.

Aah, Biggie Smalls. Exactly what I was hoping for.

Welcome to nature.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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