Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Ski Adventure (January 12-19)

Three months before the Whidbey Island Half Marathon, I gleefully (temporarily) abandoned running and headed for the mountains for a week of skiing. It’s pretty difficult to run too much—at least for long distances—when pretty much all the surrounding surface areas are covered with a deep pack of snow and ice! I suppose it’s not impossible, but really, I had no interest in trying to figure out how and where to do it. Winter sports only, please!

My opportunity to go skiing arose from a purchase at the legal services fundraising auction almost two years ago. A local attorney offered a week at his ski condo and I, enchanted by my first experience of cross country skiing in Sun Valley that January, bid and won the item. Then, throughout all of last winter and ski season, I could not figure out a time to get away from work long enough to go skiing for a whole week. (Primarily this was due to a trial that I kept postponing again and again, until the ski season was over, and I ended up doing and finishing the trial on the last two days before I left for England in the spring!)

I did manage to use the two free lift tickets that came with the prize, taking a friend up for a day of downhill skiing in late winter, my first return to the slopes in twenty years! Happily, my ski legs came right back to me, and though I was a bit more timid than I was at 20, I was soon schussing gracefully down the easier slopes. I got enough of a taste of skiing that I vowed to come back this year (if the donor would still honor my auction purchase so much later—assuming he still even owned the condo by then!).

So last fall I called up the donor (George) to make the arrangements. Luckily he was able to accommodate a week in mid-January, which was far enough in the future that I could block out the week and keep it as clear of court hearings as possible. I invited my parents to come along, even though they don’t ski, because I hoped they might enjoy a week in the snow!

I really had no idea what to expect of our accommodations. The last ski condo I stayed in (during the summer), was a cross between a luxury hotel and someone’s really nice home. I am still ahh-ing over the wonderful mattresses (someday I hope to have one as nice in my own house!). And since the owners frequently rented their condo out, it was managed by a rental company and all the pertinent details were available on a website. Plus the owner emailed me with lots of other information as well. Parking, by the way, was in a ground floor garage.

I didn’t really expect that much luxury here. I have also stayed at my friend Jenifer’s family condo in Sun Valley, which is more do-it-yourself—we brought our bed linens and towels along in a laundry basket. Her condo had been furnished back in the seventies, probably, and not changed much since then. Parking was down the road in a shared parking lot for condo residents. The condo was pretty big, though, with two big bedrooms—one with a king-sized bed and the other with several bunks—and a combined living room-dining room-kitchen area. So, a "bunk room" having been mentioned in the little information I had, I was kind of expecting something similar.

On Saturday morning we set out with the Volvo Cross Country packed to the gills with our suitcases, skis (downhill and cross country), two sets of snowshoes, three ice chests (yes, three), and many, many bags of groceries, both paper and plastic. After all, we were going to be gone for an entire week without a grocery store nearby!

After several weeks of snow accumulation in the mountains, on the Saturday we left the weather changed—for the worse. We arrived at the pass with heavy rain turning the roads and parking lots to slush and puddles. Which would have been bad enough, if we could only figure out how to get to the condo! We spotted the building fairly easily—it was signed on the side—but it was up above the parking lot and we could not find a driveway. Finally we parked and I set out to find my way by foot. Ominously, I recalled one of the few bits of descriptive information I had from the owner—“ski in, ski out,” and wondered if that meant the condo was only accessible by skis?!

As I climbed up a short hill toward the ski patrol building and began walking down a long, snow-covered road/trail in the direction of the condo, I knew there was no way we could transport my parents and all our stuff down that long road. I wasn’t sure what we would do! But when I did get to the condo building, I finally spotted a much shorter trail that headed directly down to the parking lot. It was still a bit of a walk, but much shorter and quite direct. At least my parents could walk up it, even if hauling all our stuff was going to be a chore. (Did I mention it was raining?)

I returned to the car and was able to move it to a spot fairly close to the trail and started back up with my dad and a first load. He had a little trouble with slipping on the snow—a kind passerby took the bag he was carrying and brought it up the hill for him—so I left him at the door while I headed back to haul stuff. Lucky for us, one of the neighbors let us borrow their sled so I was able to load it up and probably cut my number of trips by half, or even two thirds! Still, it took at least four sled trips (probably five or six, actually) (and did I mention it was raining?) before I was able to transport all our luggage, ice chests, grocery bags, and ski equipment up the hill. On the last trip I brought my mother along, and with ski poles to assist her balance, she was able to get up the hill with no problem.

So, the condo itself—not exactly a luxury townhouse like the one in Canada. And not nearly as big as Jenifer’s place in Sun Valley. What it was like, really, was a cross between an Ocean Shores motel room (with living room, dining area and kitchenette all together in one room) and our cabin at the beach (a converted boat house filled with our old family furniture cast-offs and stuffed to the gills with beachy relics and souvenirs). The condo building—four floors of apartment-style units—sits at the foot of the ski slopes, between two chairlifts. George’s unit is on the second floor, which is very conveniently same level as the main entrance. (We discovered that after carrying all our things up the back stairs!) The unit is one medium-large room, with a kitchenette and a dining table, and it appears to have been furnished in the seventies and not updated since. The walls are decorated with old-style skis and snowshoes, as well as various posters and pictures, and various spaces are stuffed with ski equipment, clothing, and other necessities. The couch in the living room pulls out to a queen size bed, and there is a small bunk room with a double bunk (that I used) and a single bunk above. Although claustrophic in its coziness, the bunk I slept in was quite comfortable (especially when made up with flannel sheets), apparently much more so than the typically lumpy hide-away bed!

There was a rather scary-looking woodstove, which we soon learned is George’s primary source of heat, after cranking the thermostat up to 80 and not raising the room temperature above 65. We didn’t really want to mess with a smoky stove however, so we planned to tough it out wearing extra layers of clothing. Although the first day or so seemed chilly, we soon learned a few tricks that allowed us to keep the room comfortable (as long as we continued to dress in layers). The bathroom heater worked well, and by keeping the bathroom door open, some heat would leak out into the main room. We also found the stovetop—which we used frequently to boil water—and the oven, which we heated up most days to bake something or other—helped warm the room as well. I especially found the condo’s temperature quite sufficient when I came inside after spending hours outside skiing in the cold.

There was also—hip hip hurrah—satellite TV! I must admit that when we finally learned how to turn on the TV and select the channels (aided by a neighbor who came by), our moods improved considerably. I think the prospect of spending a week together in silence scared all of us! TV would not only entertain us and pass the time, but be a sort of friendly fourth personality in our little group. (I should mention that we all came equipped with plenty of books and magazines. I also had a bag of DVD’s and a portable DVD player. But still, we needed the comforting presence of the TV to get by!)

I think that on that first day, after the mini-trauma of trying to find the condo and having to haul our voluminous possessions up a snowy hill, and then finding ourselves in a small, rather rustic and humble abode, we all wondered how, and if, we would get through an entire week together. Despite a history (rather long ago, now) of spending summers in our own very rustic one-room beach house, we have over the years become somewhat accustomed to comfort and luxury—and solitude. (Take for example the trip to England, where we had a large cottage with several bedrooms, as well separate rooms in our B&B’s.) But I must say we also have a knack for adapting to our surroundings, and after a few days, it was as if the condo was our own. (In fact, my dad took to wearing one of the owner's ski jackets when going out in the snow!)

By the time we were settled in on Saturday, it was early evening. I fixed dinner—a roasted turkey breast I bought at Safeway before leaving town—and my ubiquitous big salad, greens with vinaigrette and lots of chopped vegetables. We put Rachael Ray on TV to entertain us, and called it an evening. (Selection of the TV channels would be an on-going point of dispute. I had a few things I wanted to watch during the week, and otherwise pretty much ceded control of the TV to my father. But despite the wide variety of programming available to us, except for one viewing of Last Holiday with Queen Latifah, we generally ended up watching reruns of Frasier and Everyone Loves Raymond, as sort of a non-offensive compromise for all.)

Sunday—ski day one. Before hitting the slopes I strapped my father and I into our snowshoes for a short tramp. This would become a routine each morning, hiking to the lodge to buy my lift ticket and then back to the condo. The snowshoe was was, at least, a little bit of real exercise each day. (I don’t consider downhill skiing particularly vigorous exercise. You spend at least half your time sitting on the chairlift, and the rest of it sliding downhill with the assistance of gravity! Oh sure, there’s some effort and muscle work in skiing well. But it’s certainly not a high cardio activity, in my opinion.) I also had to do a bit of walking and hiking uphill in the skis to get to a chairlift each morning. That was definitely cardio!

On Sunday I was able to buy my lift ticket at the ski school near the condo, and both the chairlifts that are closest to the condo were open. So I spent the entire afternoon switching back and forth between them. Okay, they’re both sort of baby slopes. (One, in fact, is largely dominated by ski school babies from age three up!) But keep in mind, up until my one ski outing last spring, I had not skied for at least twenty years. I found out last year that it comes right back to you, in large part. My body easily remembered how to shift my weight and turn gracefully. But I have never been especially daring and I was probably more cautious than I really needed to be. But at least these chairs were convenient to our condo, allowing me to go in for lunch and get right back out to the slopes without delay (or unnecessary effort).

While I was eating my late lunch, Gretchen, Todd and Nissa showed up to visit and check out the snow (and our accommodations). They headed out for a short walk on the snowshoes while I finished my day’s skiing. They also enjoyed big bowls of the yummy fish and seafood stew that mother had made for our dinner. Good thing they were there to help—even after we all ate heartily, there was enough left over for my parents’ lunch the next day.

Monday—ski day two. On Monday the weather was not favorable. The morning began with rain. Or perhaps it was sleet. Just one step short of freezing rain. And even though it wasn’t snowing, it seemed very cold. Today, of course, I was reluctant to be too adventurous because of the poor visibility. The two runs nearest us were not open, so I hiked in my skis all the way over past the lodge to the easy slope that was open on weekdays. (I didn’t resent the hiking because, like the snowshoeing, it was actual exercise.) I skied run after run until I was so cold and wet that I had to go into the lodge to warm up with a latte. Then out again, and repeat. I think I went in for another little break later on.

I went back out for my final round of skiing before calling it quits for the day. I planned to stop around 3:30 and head back toward the condo in time for Oprah at 4:00. It’s not like I was going to do that every day, I just wanted to watch Oprah on Monday. The weather was pretty nasty, anyway. Although, during my last outing, the rain/sleet started to turn to snow… and by the time I was back at the condo, big, heavy snowflakes were falling thickly. It was a winter wonderland!

Later that evening, mother and I went out to take a walk in the snow, and check on the car down in the parking lot. Although now covered with a thick blanket of snow, the car seemed fine, parked with several other cars along a snow bank. While I opened up the car to look for our missing boxes of tea (which remained unfound the entire week), mother struck out to walk the perimeter of the nearly deserted parking lot. I joined her and suggested we walk down to the other end of the lot and up the road by the ski patrol, so I could show her the original route I had taken to the condo when I thought we would have to hike in. By this time the ground was completely covered with fresh snow, and our footprints were the only marks in the unbroken snow surface.

Tuesday—ski day three. During the night the snow had stopped falling, and Tuesday morning began bright and sunny and with a ground cover of fresh snow. A skier’s dream day, really. As we trekked to the lodge, our snowshoes broke a path in the snow, unmarred except for where the snow cats had groomed a trail. There was so much new snow on the ground that I was able to walk directly to the lift ticket window in my snowshoes (normally the paved area around the lodge is clear of snow).

We had left mother minding the oatmeal cooking on the stove while we walked to the lodge. We returned to the condo for breakfast, and then I packed myself a lunch to carry to the lodge in a backpack—a turkey sandwich and soup in a thermos. (Lucky thing I brought that thermos along on a whim!) Today I would ski until my ticket expired at 5 p.m.

After a few easy runs, it was time to venture onto a more challenging slope. I skied over to the Central Express chair, a fast moving quad. Since there were virtually no lines, I was able to ski right up to the chair without delay, and most of the time I had a whole chair to myself. I really preferred that, because I could pull down the safety bar without infringing on my seat companions. I have no idea why most people don’t use the safety bar—I find the chair ride much more enjoyable with a bar in front of me!

Now that I had moved on to steeper, more challenging slopes, I began using my body and muscles to ski with. I really felt my runner’s legs and Pilates-strengthened core muscles were making me a stronger, more powerful skier. I don’t like to go too horribly fast, so I was able to use frequent turns and shifts in body weight to control my speed or pull back if I wanted to slow down a bit. Instead of my legs, I felt like I was skiing with my body, my torso, shoulder to hips, and where my body wanted to go, the skis would follow. Of course, every once in a while, I just let myself go and flew!

I quickly developed a pattern where I would ski for a while—usually until I got too cold for another ride on the chair lift—then I would go into the lodge for my first break and a latte. (I also packed a book in my backpack to read during my breaks.) Then it was back out for another couple of hours of skiing, before coming in for a lunch break (it was usually late in the afternoon by then). On most days my lunch break was late enough in the day that it would be my last break before quitting time, so I would take my backpack along and ski with the pack until I headed back to the condo. On those first few days, I could not figure out a way to get all the way to the condo skiing downhill, and ended up walking and hiking part of the way—which was okay, after all it’s exercise!

I have a hard time thinking of downhill skiing as legitimate exercise. After all, you spend at least half your time sitting on a chair lift (not including time spent standing in the lift line and taking breaks in the lodge), and the rest of the time you are basically sliding downhill! After I got home I looked up downhill skiing on the internet to see how many calories you actually use. I was a little surprised that it came up as good as it did, almost as high as running, at 443 calories per hour. Now I’m assuming that is for actual skiing time, not line standing or lift riding time! Still, even after subtracting all the non-skiing time, I must have had several hours of actual skiing each day. Not too bad, after all. (Although, keep in mind, an average run takes about 5 minutes, which means about 37 calories—so it takes three runs to burn off a South Beach snack bar. Good thing I wasn’t indulging in chili and French fries!) Snowshoeing comes up as 517 calories per hour (based on my weight—skinny people burn less, sorry!). Cross country skiing comes up even higher, but I never did get manage to go cross country skiing on this trip, despite my original plans (and rental of skis, and purchase of a sno-park pass).

It’s a good thing that downhill skiing may, in fact, have some calorie expending effects because skiing certainly does encourage eating! There is something about spending hours outside in the cold that makes you crave hot drinks and hearty food. Now, I think I was pretty restrained. I resisted the chili and pizza and real hot chocolate that is so ubiquitous in ski lodges. Still, I ate as much and perhaps more than I do at home, with my running and working out at the Y every day. Plus there were a few more cookies and snack bars than I usually indulge in. So I was pretty nervous about gaining weight while I was gone! Not to mention that I was spending every day wearing stretchy pants, which presumably would continue to stretch along with potential extra pounds. So every few days I tried on my jeans to make sure they weren’t getting too tight. They seemed okay. (As of Sunday morning I was a few pounds up, but nothing that I don’t feel will drop off after a few days of careful eating.)

I did drink a lot of hot beverages, but restrained myself to nonfat lattes in the lodge and my own concoctions back at the condo. I had brought a couple of cartons of almond milk, as well as a jar of instant espresso powder, which allowed me to make pretty nice latte-like drinks with the help of the microwave. I also came up with a sublime mocha hot chocolate involving diet hot cocoa powder (25 calories per packet). After a bit of experimentation I determined that the ideal proportion is one packet per 8 ounces of water (so, 1.5 packets in a 12-oz mug), plus 1-2 teaspoons of espresso powder (depending on the size of mug and whether you want to taste the espresso or just use it to enhance the chocolate). This delightful invention will be very enjoyable at home as well!

Tuesday night back at the condo I settled down with my dinner and forced everyone to watch The Biggest Loser and then Boston Legal. Watching “my shows” is not nearly as enjoyable when you are watching them with others (for example my father) who would really rather be watching something else. I never realized how nice it was to live alone!

Wednesday—ski day four. Today I decided to get a 1-10 ticket, starting later and skiing into the evening (though probably not till 10 p.m.). That would allow us to have a nice leisurely snowshoe walk and also—more importantly—make oat pancakes for breakfast.

At the lodge I talked the guy at the ticket window into selling me my afternoon ticket early (normally they don’t go on sale till 12:45) since I had “hiked” over especially to get it. Then I went into the lodge and bought lattes, one which I poured into my thermos to bring back to the condo, the other which I shared with my father before heading back.

When I started to stir up the batter for our oat pancakes, a crisis occurred. I could not tell whether my mother had included the Scottish oats in with the whole wheat flour in the zipper bag—and she hadn’t written down the recipe so even measuring the flour did not answer the question. I could not see the oats in the bag, but later conceded that perhaps the Scottish oats are just indistinguishable from the flour…. At the time, however, it was a crisis. I got a little bit pissy, I must admit. Then I finally decided to be flexible and dumped in a couple of packets of Nature’s Path Hemp Oatmeal (with all kinds of seeds and oats), along with some wheat bran. Because of the extra grains, it took an entire quart of buttermilk to make the batter (instead of about half the quart, as usual). (A couple days later it also appeared that I may have poured in part of a bag of whole wheat flour and oatmeal that had been brought along to make scones… which may explain why it took so much liquid to moisten!)

The result was delicious, hearty pancakes, and plenty of them! We saved half the batter for the next day’s breakfast. Even so, we were well filled with whole grains and fiber. I left for skiing with a full stomach.

Choosing Wednesday for afternoon and evening skiing was not the most well thought out decision, because apparently late Wednesday afternoon (and early evening) was a time when a lot of ski buses arrived with loads of students! By mid-afternoon the lift lines were swelled with groups of kids. It wasn’t too bad, though, and the wait in line was never more than a few minutes.

I didn’t know until the week was over how lucky I had been to take advantage of midweek skiing. Most of the time I barely had to wait in line at all, and could ski right up to the chair. At the worst (which was probably Friday evening) I had to endure about a five minute wait. When the Central chair got a bit of a line, I was able to go to Triple 60, which never had a line at all until later on Friday.

I don’t think I ventured onto Triple 60 until Thursday, though, and as darkness fell on Wednesday night, I took a run on Central that seemed very poorly lit. I was not thrilled about skiing in the dark (being a coward of sorts), so I moved to the Gallery chair, a beginning-to-intermediate lift, and zipped up and down for the rest of the evening. I sent myself back to the condo around 8 or 8:30.

Thursday—ski day five. (And a second round of super-oat-pancakes for breakfast… sending me out with a full tummy again.) This was my day to expand my horizons. Yes, I should have been skiing all the chairs by Tuesday, but as I said, I am a bit of a nervous Nellie and after all, I hadn’t been skiing for 20 years up until now (except for that one trip last year). So I ventured onto the Golden Nugget trail off the Central chair (which would also provide me a route to more easily return to the condo at the end of the day), and immediately wondered what I had been waiting for! I think this was my favorite run in the whole place. It started out with some open slopes and funneled into a narrower chute which came out above the slopes above Reggie’s chair and looked quite directly down toward the condo. Veering back to the left would bring me back to the Central chair. I skied that run several times in a row to make sure I would be comfortable with it in the evening when I headed back. Then I skied it some more because I really liked it.

My next goal was the Triple 60 chair. I had been studying the trail map and the slopes and I was quite certain I could ski across from the top of the chair to meet up with the second half of the Alpine slope on the Central chair. I sucked up my nerve and hopped into the chair. And once again, I wondered why I had waited so long. The traverse trail was pretty gentle and a lot of fun, and the rest was the same slopes I had skied many times already.

When I finished my late afternoon lunch break, I headed back out for my last few runs. My final run was on the Central chair, Golden Nugget trail, of course. When I came out of the chute I paused to look down at the condo and plan my route. The only problem I saw was that since Reggie’s chair wasn’t running, the slope was ungroomed and still had a thick layer of heavy powder from Monday night’s snowfall. I don’t really know how to ski in this type of snow. You certainly can’t make quick turns and stops (as I found out). I started forward, and I don’t know if I tried to turn or leaned too far forward, but next thing I knew, I was on the ground! I picked myself up and started again—and then fell again! I knew that I had to lean back a little, so I did, and I only fell one more time. That was a hard fall, jarring me enough so that my hat and goggles fell off and my iPod earbuds popped out of my ears. That was it, though. I was able to make it to the groomed path above the condo, and then of course down to the condo. I was not enamored of skiing in soft snow!

Plus, I had foolishly called my mom when I was heading back so she could watch me ski in. So both my parents were outside the condo watching me go splat in the snow! At least it was too dark out for picture taking.

The evening did improve with dinner—steak! (My vegan days are long forgotten….)

Friday—ski day six. This was my last day of skiing, so I wanted to maximize it. Instead of snowshoeing over to get my lift ticket, I headed out directly on skis, almost first thing in the morning. Okay, at 10:00. Or maybe 10:30. (After breakfast—veggie scramble and the last of the turkey bacon. And sort-of-scones—made with the last of the flour & oat mixture that I had inadvertently used up, stretched out with packets of Nature’s Path instant oatmeal and wheat bran, plus the other usual ingredients including dried cherries. Normally you would pat them out into rounds and cut into wedges, but these were so gloppy that I made them as drop scones. Here’s the recipe for the real thing….)

Dried Cherry Oatmeal Scones
2 cups all purpose flour or whole wheat pastry flour
2 cups rolled oats (not instant)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 eggs, beaten
¼ cup honey
2/3 cup half-and-half (or buttermilk)
½ cup dried sour cherries or other dried fruit such as cranberries
Additional half-and-half for glazing

1. In a medium mixing bow, combine flour, oats, and baking powder. Cut in butter with a pastry blender until mixture is coarse grained. Add eggs, honey and half-and-half, stirring only until mixture is combined. Fold cherries into dough.
2. Turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead several times to distribute ingredients evenly. Divide in two and pat into 8-inch round cakes (3/4 to 1 inch in height) on a greased cookie sheet. Cut each cake into 6 or eight wedges, but do not separate. Brush with additional half-and-half.
3. Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 20 minutes until nicely browned. Separate the wedges, cool slightly and serve.

Anyhow, back to the skiing. Since it was my last day of skiing, I forked over an extra three dollars to get the full day ticket, 9 a.m. to close, so I wouldn’t be forced to shut down at 5 p.m. Since I did have a longer evening to ski, this time instead of packing a lunch I decided to go back to the condo for lunch. That wasn’t until about 2:30 in the afternoon, though. I wasn’t ready to leave the slopes until I got a good morning (early afternoon) in. The weather was perfect, warm and sunny, and so far the lines were not bad (I moved to Triple 60 when there was a bit of a line at Central).

But, you gotta eat sometime, so around 2:30 I headed down Golden Nugget. This time I was going to get across the ungroomed field without a spill. So I headed across on a traverse, not too much downhill (so I wouldn’t pick up too much speed), and I’m afraid in a bit of a snowplow stance. Along the way I passed a big splotch in the snow which was undoubtedly one of my fall spots from the night before! But it was also much easier in daylight, since I could see what was ahead of me much better. I successfully made it to the condo on two feet (skis).

Lunch was low-cal fajitas. I like them open-faced, but you can also make them sandwich style with two tortillas. Use the 50-calorie low carb whole wheat tortillas, spread with about ¼ cup fat-free refried beans and sprinkle with 2% cheddar cheese (or Mexican cheese mix). Then grill in a nonfat skillet so the tortilla browns a bit and the cheese melts (you might have to pop it in the microwave if the cheese resists melting). Top with skinny slices of avocado, cut into wedges, and eat with lots of salsa or pico de gallo—scrumptious! And I think they are modest enough to afford a second serving. (I also like to use these tortillas to make yummy veggie wraps. Take a tortilla and warm for a few seconds in the microwave to soften it, then spread with a couple tablespoons of hummus—I like the eggplant hummus from Trader Joe’s, it’s super-delicious and lower in calories than regular hummus, only 15 per tablespoon. Top half of the tortilla with chopped bell pepper, cucumber, sweet onion, and sliced avocado; pile the other half with baby spinach or arugula. Carefully fold in half and eat taco-style.)

After my delicious lunch, it was back out to the slopes. I convince my mother to walk along as I ski-hiked over to the Central chair so she could watch me ski and take some pictures. I waved wildly at her from the chair lift, but she appeared oblivious…. However, thanks to my handy cell phone, I called her before I started skiing down so she could be on the alert for me.

I spent the rest of the afternoon skiing between the Central and Triple 60 chairs. Actually I took a number of runs on Central, then when the line started to build up a little, switched to Triple 60. Around 6:00 or so I went in for a break. My breaks usually have nothing to do with skiing or being tired—I usually decide it’s time for a break when I cannot bear thinking of another ride on the chair lift, either because I am so cold or because the line is too long (or both).

I quickly learned that 6:00 on a Friday night is not the very best time for a break, since that is when all the kids—and apparently everyone else also—break for dinner. Luckily I had no interest in the food line, which stretched halfway into the middle of the lodge. I opted instead for the espresso line, which was quite short, for a warming latte and a refreshing diet pepsi.

When I headed back out at 7:00 the night had turned very cold and the lines had turned quite long. I heard from my mother that the Easy Street chair by the condo had opened, so after one run on Triple 60 and one excrutiatingly cold chair ride up Central and down the Golden Nugget, I headed back over that way.

The Easy Street chair and vicinity was swarming with little ski school children in red jackets (so adorable) but the lift line was blessedly short. I finished my ski night by zipping up and down that chair a few times, till I finally called it quits around 8:30.

The next day, our last day, Saturday, was the day to pack up and move out. I had already decided not to ski that day, and I didn’t regret that decision on Saturday morning when I saw the crowds of people and lift lines getting long by 10 a.m. I had hoped to stop at the Nordic Center for some cross country skiing, but in the end we decided just to head home.

But before departure my father and I headed out for one last snowshoe walk. I was determined to get a good walk out of it, since there was to be no skiing that day. I struck out for the lodge, then walked around the perimeter of the lodge before turning back to meet up with my father along the path. On the way back I passed the condo to head down to the Silver Fir chair, then past the chair to the snowshoe center building. On my way back up the hill I saw a trail into the woods which seemed to be a shortcut, and better yet, was an opportunity to go off path and walk on softer, deeper snow like a real snowshoer. My entire walk, by the time I returned to the condo, was more than an hour long.

After several snowless days (since Monday night), on Saturday we awoke to falling snow. The wet snowflakes continued to fall throughout the morning, as we packed up our stuff and hauled it to the car. Let me make it clear—I hauled it to the car. George had a sled which I loaded with first our ice chests, then on the next trip our suitcases, and finally our other bags and grocery bags, for a total of four sled trips to the car. My father stayed down at the car to load it, and my mother stayed up in the condo until the last trip. The last trip was without sled, and all I had left to carry was a thermal mug of hot chocolate and a paper cup of hot chocolate for my dad. (I had already made and packed my almond milk latte for the road.)

It wasn’t until we were in the car and heading for the road that I made the final decision to ditch the cross country skiing plans. It was still snowing rather hard (and wet), and I didn’t think that skiing would be that pleasant, especially with my mother waiting nervously and impatiently in the car. So instead we headed west on I-90, back toward civilization. It didn’t take all too many miles before the slush on the road turned into just wet roads, and soon even the snow on the roadside disappeared. By North Bend it was as if we weren’t even in the mountains!

In North Bend we stopped at Starbucks, then sat in the car to eat the sandwiches we had packed along for lunch. I guess this was the end of our ski/snow trip. On our way back through Everett we stopped at the ski shop and dropped off all our rental equipment. (Except for my cross country boots, which I forgot about. I dropped those off on Monday.)

My only postscript is that I later did some internet research on snowshoes, and learned that there is also a type of snowshoe meant for running.
That intrigues me—I think I might like to get a pair of those in case I want to try a little snow running.

I’m also going to get my snowshoes from my parents’ house (where I originally thought I would want to store them) just in case we get some snow sometime and I want to tramp around outside. Who knows, maybe we might get enough so I could snowshoe to work! Now that would be fun!

(I'll be back at a later time to add pictures from my ski trip!)

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