“Just one more run they said…it’ll be fun they said!!” I screamed down to Jessi as I sat half way up the mountain, in a small group of trees contemplating my next move. The hill was glare ice, my heart was racing and it felt like I had never seen anything steeper in my life. The two of us girls were both terrified yet laughing out of control as we sat there trying to figure out what to do.
“We could take off our skis and walk down,” Jess called up to me offering a suggestion. Although we both knew we didn’t want to end our last run of the weekend on that note. Instead, we bucked up, took a deep breath and started down the ice rink hill once again, shaking our heads as we skied closer to the men below.
Always looking for a weekend escape, Dave and I spent the weekend just outside Salt Lake City, Utah skiing and catching up with old friends. We met Brandt and Jessi years ago while camping at The Gorge for DMB and became close friends with them. Their son, and the four of us spent the weekend on the slopes. It was refreshing to get away from the California rain and finally spend some time in the snow! California had been experience an immense amount of rain this winter, which left us craving the blue skies and sunshine again- even if it meant being covered in fresh powder. Growing up in the Minnesota, I never minded the snow – it’s the cold I can’t take. Being in Utah is a breath of fresh air, it’s the best of both worlds – warmer days yet snow to play in. If I have to have a winter, I would choose a winter like theirs.
For our first day of skiing we drove to Snowbasin, a resort outside Salt Lake City. It was a warm day, toping out at about 35 degrees. The blue skies were dotted with cotton candy white clouds. Jess and I packed a flask and waved goodbye to the boys. Since us ladies weren’t as experienced we opted for the green circles and blue squares. The gentlemen however, opted to go off the trails and spend their time in the backcountry. Fine with me- as long as I don’t have to participate they can do whatever. I’m more of a “have a drink, float down the hill, take in the scenery” kind of gal. Jess and I had our two runs that we were content with doing. I hadn’t been on skis or a snowboard in almost six years (and that was back in Minnesota where it’s mostly “hills” not mountains, mind you) so I needed some time to get back into things.
By day two, we were heading to Park City where I was warned the mountains would be less forgiving but the scenery was nothing to joke about. They weren’t kidding. As we were taking the chair lift up- I couldn’t help but feel breathless. It was a blue bird day- fresh snow covered the mountains. The wide-open spaces, laid against the back drop of wondrous mountains, dotted with pine trees sneaking their green branches out from underneath the fresh powder was truly something else. It was a beautiful I don’t get to see on the California Coast and something I surely will never take for granted.
The boys decided to hang out and do a few runs with us before heading for the back hills again. The five of us took to the trails, each turn leaving me just as breathless as the one before. Every single run was laid against a stunning backdrop I couldn’t peel my eyes from. I wanted to pause on the mountains and just be for a moment, and I often did. I love when the earth makes me feel small. I feel humbled and remember there is so much more than what’s happening in our own backyards. There’s so much to see and so much to do- I never want to stop seeing as much as I can.
After lunch, the boys headed to the double blacks and unmarked while Jess and I did our few runs on our “safe” mountains. After a few runs we decided to take a break so we could catch up better. We were enjoying a cocktail, letting the sun warm up our faces and sharing laughs and deep thoughts. I sometimes forget how nice it is to have a dear old friend beside you to talk to. It’s so much different than a phone call and something I love having around.
As the sun was beginning to bid herself farewell to us the boys came back around. We all enjoyed one last drink before heading to the front for our final run. The resort had begun to close down the runs as we made our way to the front. We were beginning to become limited in our selection of runs but we all agreed to do one last one. It was mine and David’s last day in Utah and we wanted to ensure we snuck in each last possible moment on the slopes while we could. The boys took Jess and I up the chairlift for a final time, just as we exited the lift I realized this wouldn’t be the casual stroll down the hill they led us to believe. They were taking us down a slope that Jess and I had specifically declined doing previously.
We had no choice. At this point, there was absolutely no other way down the hill. The boys took off while Jess and I carefully began our journey to the bottom. I peered over the edge and felt my stomach tie in knots. My heart was racing and my muscles were tense. This was steeper than I had wanted to be on but still, I had no other way down. I took deep breaths and carefully zigzagged across the hill, cautiously creating my S curves as I had been taught.
Not even a fourth from the top, the mountain became covered in glare ice. My skis began to slide away and my legs felt like giving us from squeezing them so hard. I was in the midst of an S curve when I suddenly felt I needed to venture way to the side (near the trees) to regain composure. My exit from the run was less than graceful and I ended up halting to a stop by small bush. I was stuck; no way was I going to go back out there. I wasn’t going to move from my bush.
Jess was below and turned to look back at me. “Just one more run they said…it’ll be fun they said!!” I screamed down to Jessi as I sat contemplating my next move. The hill was glare ice, my heart was racing and it felt like I had never seen anything steeper in my life. I then began to laugh at the sound of her laughter. We were both scared for our lives but somehow were able to find the humor in it all.
“We could take off our skis and walk down,” Jess called up to me offering a suggestion. Although we both knew we didn’t want to end our last run of the weekend on that note. Just then her cell phone rang, it was Brandt from down below. He and David were wondering what was going on. We couldn’t help but blame them for our misfortune, despite it really being no one’s fault. As I sat there in the trees, I watched skier after skier wipe out right beside me, which was not comforting to me making my exit.
Finally, Jess and I took a deep breath and went for it. Making S curves that covered the entire run we finally made it to a crossing section and met up with the boys. They were laughing and all we could do was roll our eyes and scold them for not taking better care of us. Fifteen minutes later, the end was in sight, we were finally almost down completely safe – just then one of the boys wiped out and it was all Jess and I could do to hold back our laughs. We burst out laughing- it served them right for abandoning us and leaving us to panic on the steep mountain!
All in all the laughs we shared in Utah were some that I’ll cherish forever. I was reminded how much I enjoy the snow and actually enjoy skiing. It didn’t take us long to decide this would definitely be an annual trip. I’m already looking forward to next winter and the next time I can ‘shred the gnar’ (not really). Maybe next time I’ll make it down without making a friend with a tree.