One of the interesting things I’ve rediscovered post-divorce is my love of downhill skiing. It is one of those things that gives me a small rush when zooming down a steep slope, or trying to conquer some new terrain.
The last three winters I’ve been able to travel to three distinctly different ski areas. The first was Heavenly ski area with its pristine views of Lake Tahoe. The skiing can be readily accessed from a Gondola just a couple hundred yards from the shore in the city of South Lake Tahoe on the California/Nevada State line. In fact, the stateline area itself is interesting with resort hotels and smaller lodges on the California side giving way to the bustling casinos emerging within feet of the border.
As I attended graduate school within a couple hours at UC-Davis I was already familiar with Heavenly and South Lake Tahoe, making them an ideal first place. Additionally, I have an old graduate school friend who runs a cooperative office space dubbed “Tahoe Mountain Lab” (I stongly suggest checking out if you’re looking for a work-cation of sorts. They even have ski-in office space.
The Heavenly trip was, well, heavenly. They received a big dump of snow a day or two before my arrival which made for some awesome skiing. The mountain was nearly empty too as it was a weekday and there was another big dump of snow in the forecast. South Lake Tahoe can be tricky to enter in inclement weather. In fact, I had to put chains on my tires while leaving to make sure my rental car would get up and over the mountains.
I skied until my legs were gelatinous. Late in the day can be dangerous as your fatigue starts to affect your decision making and the terrain can be rougher due to ski traffic forming powder moguls and icy areas, but yet I survived.
The trip next trip was in early 2017. My girlfriend and I crashed one of her gf’s ski trips to Sun Valley, Idaho. This place was the classic notion of skiing at its best. The resort is nestled in the small town of Sun Valley. It is a town with a lot of history. For me it was fascinating just to know that it is near the location where one of my favorite writer’s, Ernest Hemingway, grave is located. He was a tormented soul, particularly later in his life, and took his own life in the nearby town of Ketchum.
The name Sun valley is very fitting of the area. It was so bright, and downright warm, at the bottom of the mountain. The skiing itself is not for the novice. The runs that were dubbed as “easy” could easily have been intermediate or even advanced runs at many other resorts. I even named one of the runs “The Thighmaster” due to its steepness and need to constantly make semi-leaping turns on the way down. Still, I loved the challenge. My girlfriend, however, felt a little novice for the place.
I do have to say that the end of the day was absolutely awesome in Sun Valley. It was warm enough on the large patios at the base of the mountain to unzip our coats and enjoy a cold beer while catching some rays and watching the skiers come down; an unforgettable experience.
This year, as I mentioned in my previous post, work brought me to Utah. My girlfriend and I seized the opportunity and visited two resorts: Deer valley and Brighton. I was surprised at how vast the ski areas were in Utah. You could ski all day, or maybe a couple of days and barely scratch all the runs on the mountain.
My gf had been taking some ski lessons so her technique was up and fear was down, which enabled more challenging terrain. Both resorts were a little more crowded. In fact, Deer Valley had World Cup moguls and areal ski competitions going on which brought a lot of free swag from various vendors at the main lodge. In fact, my gf and I took different runs down for the last run of the day. I made it down first (I ski faster). I waited and waited for her. Then I saw a couple of ski patrol snowmobiles make the climb. That worried me, still I waited. Our phones were dead. In killing time I went and got a free baked Clif bar and hot chocolate in a souvenir cup from the Clif bar vendor booth .
I got back to the ski racks just in time to score some points and hand the hot chocolate off to my gf. Apparently, she had stopped off to watch the mogul skiers. It was very awesome to see how much air they could get, but it was nothing compared to the areal skiers who would get 40 to 50 feet into the air while doing all sorts of flips and contortions.
I do have to say Brighton is probably my favorite ski area to date. There was so much variation in terrain and, despite it being a busy ski day, there was plenty of the mountain to be had for ourselves. I think every time I took a slightly different run, only to pop out at the same chairlift and ride back up with the girlfriend. She tended to find a favorite run and then stick to it. I, however, wanted adventure and found more than my share. I even realized in a couple spots the snowpack wasn’t the deepest and a couple of rocks were successfully avoided.
All three of those trips were awesome. Now that I’m seeing how great my kids are doing at skiing; I’ll have to look for opportunities to bring them to the mountains as well. we have many ski areas here in Minnesota, but they don’t have the massiveness of the rockies or the sierras. Yesterday, I brought the kids to a little more out of the way place, Welch Village. WV has the probably the best combination of number of runs, varied terrain and length of runs in the area. A good warm-up for bigger places. I’m hoping within the next month to bring them to bigger places and let them get acclimated to longer and longer runs.
Indeed, I am very excited for this time in life with the ability to partake in a fun family/couples activity. I just hope my knees are able to keep me going for a long, long time.