it’s just fear

This has not been a great year for snow. We got our season passes in October and then waited as the snow didn’t come. The first week of December, the mountain was going to open, even though a 24-inch base was much less than what they liked to have, but then rain melted that away to 8 inches, and they reconsidered. Christmas came and still no snow. Instead of opening, they had snow dance parties at the lodge.

They finally barely opened the first week of January, just a few lifts, just a few runs. Over the weekend, they opened another part of the mountain and we headed down for our first boarding of the season.

I was a little nervous.

Despite all of my bravado about loving it, and how I’m overcoming my fears and experiencing new things, it’s still pretty damn scary. I was mostly worried that I forgot absolutely everything I learned last year, and that this time would be exactly like my first time. And the thing about the first time is that having experienced it, I am absolutely flabbergasted that anyone ever snowboards again.

Forget actually going down the mountain upright, that isn’t going to happen the first day. You’re too busy trying to figure out how to walk. The boots are not only heavy, but they tilt you forward at an odd angle, so as you sink ankle-deep into the snow with each step, your calves feel like you’re walking up really steep stairs. Then there’s figuring out how to get your boot attached to the board, how to walk with a board strapped to one foot, how to get on the lift, how not to fall off it while high in the air, and how get off the lift without getting bonked in the head and falling into a heap, unable to move, right in the path on everyone else trying to get off. That alone takes a few hours to figure out.

And of course, figuring out how to stand up is a herculean effort and an experiment in frustration (topped only by golf), since you fall right back down.

Thankfully, I picked up right where I left off, which was still pretty bad, but at least I was able to get down the mountain in one piece. My muscles, however, had not remembered. That first walk to the lift was excruciating. I was ready to call it day before we even made it to the line.

The mountain got nine inches of fresh powder the night before, so conditions were great. For me, great conditions are: not too slick because then I’d go too fast and that would be scary; lots of powder so when I fall it doesn’t hurt quite as much; not too many other people on the mountain because I’m always afraid they’re going to hit me. That last one may seem dumb, but most people ski and board exactly the way they drive. It does not inspire confidence. I was actually much rather have a beginner run into me because he can’t stop than an expert swoosh two inches behind me and kick snow into my face. Luckily, we had all three conditions because we were at a part of the mountain that was only open to season passholders and all the fresh powder took care of the rest.

It was awesome. I whine so much (I’m cold; I’m sore; I can’t turn; that guy almost hit me; stop throwing snowballs at me), but I guess P. is used to it. He just ignores me and keeps throwing snowballs. Deep powder makes things better for snowboarders, not so much for skiiers, and it makes it much easier for me to do the steeper runs. It was sleeting a little, and ice coated everything: the chairs, our noses. I couldn’t wear my goggles because the rain just froze on the lenses.

I am still trying to learn how to turn correctly. It’s scary because you have to point your board straight down the hill (which causes you to pick up speed), and then you swing your back foot around so that you’re going down the hill backwards. I start to do it, and then I have this psychological block and my brain tells my legs to stop, so midway into the turn I try to back out of it and fall on my face. P. keeps telling me I can do it, and I keep telling him it’s too scary. One day, I will get past this. Next time we go, I’m going to just practice turning the entire time. It’s just fear. I won’t get hurt. It’s not beyond my physical abilities. It’s only the fear that’s holding me back.

It’s so beautiful up there. I took some pictures. P. has a four-wheel drive truck mostly for times like this. We can throw the boards in the back and not worry quite so much about the icy, snow-packed roads.

And although it was 22 degrees and sleeting, we weren’t cold. You get pretty warm when you’re boarding, and I was wearing my new high-tech clothes. When I started snowboarding, I had really old ski stuff, and it just didn’t work. At the end of last season, I got a new coat on clearance and then this fall, I got new pants. I wanted off-white, but they made my ass look huge. It may seem ridiculous to be vain when you’re snowboarding, and your hair is plastered on your face, and you’re wearing huge goggles, but these pants are insulated and padded and they’re already huge enough. I didn’t need white magnifying the whole thing. I got black ones. I think they’re quite stylish. And the best part is that both the coat and pants have various overlapping stretchy parts and snaps to keep the snow from whooshing up into your clothes and getting trapped there. It’s not fun to have snow trapped in your pants, believe me.

After snowboarding, tequila and burgers are traditional. P. suggested we try black bean burgers, so we headed to the grocery store and picked up some ingredients. Then, we grilled ’em up and I collapsed on the couch.

Despite all my whining, I can’t wait to go back.

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