For years I kept journals -- in composition, spiral bound, and French graph paper books. This blog is an attempt to get back to writing and documenting the world around me using photos, newspaper headlines, and other articles.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Returning to the mountain

It isn't really a mountain, but today we went to Gunstock for an afternoon of skiing.  During my school years, I went there 8 Friday's every winter.  In seventh grade I had my first date there, a Saturday of skiing with a boy.  When I was trying to finish my MALS degree, I took a part-time job for one season at the Guest Services desk because I was broke.  That was 1997.  I haven't been avoiding it, exactly, but I haven't raced to get back there either.  The memories are both good and not so good.  However, it seemed like the best skiing choice today.  Time to get over my reluctance.

After a few warm days, the arctic chill returned this morning.   Goodbye light windbreaker or sweatshirt, finger-less mittens and headgear, hello down jacket, hat and thick gloves.  Luckily the wind wasn't too fierce and it felt nice to be outdoors.

First up -- a ride up the magic carpet for JT and a skill assessment by Robert.  After one trip down, it seemed like the best choice for Robert, Heather and JT to stay on the bunny slope.  Selim and I took the Penny Pitou chair lift up to the top of the gentle and slow ski slopes.  We developed a mantra over the course of the day, while we rode the chair.  Before dismount we would say, "Bar up.  Ski poles in one hand.  Tips up.  Prepare to scoot off, but don't move, other wise mom will yell ahhhhh."  I get really nervous when the safety bar is up and we still have a ways to go before we get to the landing zone.

I had forgotten how much fun it is to ski.  I haven't been since 2001 or 2002.  There is something about the swish of the skis over the snow, the speed, feeling the wind of my face, and the fresh air that is really great.  Also, I don't feel the pressure to be an expert.  As long as I can keep up with Selim, it is all good.  He is trying to get his skis parallel, but for now, most of his skiing is done in the snowplow position.  And I'm slightly better than that.  Just slightly.

After an hour or so, all five of us were riding the chair and skiing down.  It was so fun.  We skied in different groups, riding up the chair in different configurations.

Halfway through our afternoon, Selim needed a hot chocolate break.  Heather graciously took the two boys inside to get warm.  Robert rode the big chair up to the top of the mountain with me.  I didn't really want to ski down, but I wanted to take in the view from the top.  Hence, I had to go up.

I took a couple of selfies on the way and at the top.

The view from the top is beautiful -- the lake below and mountains off in the distance.  Remarkable.  The way down was a big nervy.  Some of the easy trails seemed to be closed and it felt like I was trying to go down a few of the intermediate trails.  Considering it had been 15+ years since the last time I was on skis going downhill, I did OK.  But some of the steeps were icy and I didn't have complete control of myself.  I didn't fall and I didn't crash into anybody else, so, success.

Once to the top was enough.  I went in to the warming room and had to cool down.  I was sweaty from trying to get down in one piece.  My right thigh was shaking, and taking a fifteen minute break was a good idea.

We didn't want to rest too long, as our ticket was only good until 4:00.  We went back over to the gentle slopes and made continuous loops of good skiing and riding the chair back up.  As the afternoon went on, fewer and fewer people were on the hill and it felt like our own private mountain, more or less.

Two days in a row of outdoor activity, on the snow, with family.  What could be better?

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