Saturday, February 19, 2011

WooChow Wee...


Yesterday was one of those days where you wake up and go to bed with so much sandwiched in-between you think you can’t eat it all in one sitting but you do, making today a day of sleeping in and resting old bones for other big-sandwiched days to come…

Taking inventory over coffee I realize my calves hurt from THE DAY BEFORE the big sandwich day where I took a friend up snow-shoeing between snow storms and we climbed about 1200 feet in elevation in about two-hours-twenty and then turned around and came home. On that particular day my friend B got a large dollop of snow down his backside that fell from a snow-laden fir tree which made him holler “Woooochow Wee!” (wouldn’t you?) and the whole tree let loose its snow-holdings and I cowered in the snow dust as B got COVERED in a conical pile of the light and fluffy white stuff…

Moving on up, I can tell you my knees are a bit achy and my thighs are tired and sore (and it’s prolly too much information but I’ve got a little rashy thingy going right next to my real-deal-thingies as the LAST TIME I went skiing before the big sandwich day, I convinced the girl who goes skiing with me it was her turn to drive because the roads were clear after the long faux-spring we’d been having and we ran out of gas on the freeway and I hopped out and walked the mile to the exit where I bought a gas can which I filled and toted the mile back, all the while wearing my insulated black ski-pants which are supposed to release perspiration vapor but I tend to sweat in droplets… so yeah, I developed a bit of an itchy hot spot where my legs and things all rub together…)

And my neck and shoulder are all a bit stiff but I’ll get to that in a second…

---So after spending an entire month dealing with Spring snow and skiing on a choice of dimpled ice or machine-groomed slush, I watched with great joy as Mt. Ashland got hammered Monday Tuesday and Wednesday with snow. Three beautiful feet of it, to be precise, coming down in magnificent silence transforming Mt. Ashland once again into a winter-wonder-land right in our own backyard.

Well not exactly MY backyard but close enough to drive up and back to in a day. From there to here it is an hour and forty minutes to be precise (heck, people in the Bay Area commute that on a daily basis, don’t they?)

And if there is one thing we all know about new powder, is that EVERYBODY wants to be the first to ski it up, making those really cool snaky-tracks that look good on ski-films and resort-destination posters.

Which means everybody (including me) wants to get up there early, before the lifts are even running, meaning that I had to have my female ski-friend here with me at seven am… which would have worked out except we got walloped with twelve inches of snow here in Selma while we slept causing all kinds of weird power problems like brown-outs, and the roads don’t get plowed here except by four-wheel drives mushing it all down with their “really big” tires.

So my morning started at six am before the sun was up. I woke up and left my little apartment and headed toward the house. When I opened the front door to the out-of-doors I thought “Holy Crap!” when I saw how much snow we had gotten over night. Twelve solid inches of fresh new powder! In my yard! Woochow Wee! “Mt. Ashland must be smothered!”

I turned back inside and changed my kicking-around-furry-slippers for boots so I could make the walk to the house, then grabbed my walking stick so I could beat on my trees overhanging my walkway to empty them of heavy snow so I wouldn’t have to crawl beneath their sagging archways full of snow (I’ve seen what snow falling out of trees will do!) and made it to the house (an eighty foot meander turned mini-saga by the new foot of snow) only to find the nights lights we leave on (so Mum has a way of finding the toilet at three am without falling down) all glowing sickly and flickering off and on- a sure sign we were getting less than our normal load of power to the house…

Crap!

And we had no water coming out of the taps…

Crap!

And the microwave didn’t have the power necessary to warm a piece of left-over pizza…

Crap!

And the heat pump (which is needed even with our new fireplace due to old-ageism) was laboring under the reduced power and needed to be shut off…

Crap!

And I had to trudge on out to the pump-house and check on the pump…

With a flashlight while it was snowing…

Crap!

And by the time I got everything turned off and a note explaining why left on the table and my ski gear on without my shower or coffee and a lunch made, the phone rang and my friend was lamenting “I can’t get my car out of the driveway and there’s a cracked branch hovering over it full of snow.”

Woochow Wee.

“I’ll come and get you.”

So I went out and shoveled the snow around my electric gate so it would open, then headed out onto our very rural roads with a foot of new snow on them and headed down behind the lake on a narrow two-laner which turned into a one-laner which turned into a gravel road which then turned off into her friend’s driveway where she had spent the night. I was the only track on the road which is both cool and confusing. On a road I’ve ridden hundreds of times on my bicycle, I took the wrong turn twice (heading up driveways that Y off the main road and then backing up off them) and took a few guesses as to where the large pot-holes were…

Things look way different under all that snow.

So we got her driveway shoveled enough to move her car out from under the tree branch (that crashed down later that morning) and her gear in my truck and drove the hour and forty minutes or so uneventfully (thankfully) up to the Mt. Ashland ski resort parking lot where we were amazed to see the transformative powers of three feet of new powder…

WooChow Wee!

Now I’m not a good powder skiier (because I grew up skiing groomed slopes and skied very little of it as an adult) but I have the leg strength and conditioning now (all those miles on a bike in these hills around here) to make a go of it and I was bouncing around in it just fine (falling in soft piles of it every now and then) for a couple of hours while my friend floated over the top of it (she has fat skis designed for powder and it showed) and made me ever more determined to master the art of skiing with snow up to the level of my itchy balls…

And then it happened.

I was skiing on a slope that had been packed once by the grooming tractor and then a foot of new snow was built atop that. A foot of powder was perfect for me as I am heavy and my skis were both short and narrow. The deep powder was swallowing me up and this powder over the packed powwder was perfect and I was skiing fast and bouncing out of my turns and then WoooChow Weee! I skied into a spot where the snow was four feet deep of pure powder.

It was like going off the front of your surfboard or over the top of your handlebars on your bike. It was like I had skied into a giant hole that was bound to swallow me up (it took my legs and skis down that’s for sure!) and it must have been a total surprise to me because I had that mouth-agape expression on my face as I went tumbling head first into its white maw (and I know this because I landed face first into the snow and it shoved about an eight-ounce glass full of snow’s worth into it as well as packing both nostrils full of snow).

And I should correct that, as I didn’t land on my face, I basically bounced off of my face because I made another rotation and landed on my back, completely trapped by the sticky snow which held me two feet or so beneath its surface…

So after I dove over my skis and bounced off my face and got a monster wad of snow pack over my goggles and up my nose and in my mouth, I lay there trapped like a man strapped to a table and realized that I was drowning.

Ever try to inhale a snow cone all at once?

Can’t be done.

I spit out as best as I could. My heart was racing and adrenalin was pumping and a large wad of snow the size of a snow ball good for throwing flew out of my mouth…

Air. At least I now had air.

I could lie there and calm down now so I did. I thought of water-boarding at that moment and realized how tortuous that would be. The act of nearing-drowning made you fight in a panic for life.

For air.

Air IS life at that moment.

Nothing else matters but getting a lung full of air…

And then I realized that I hadn’t been water-boarded. I had been snow-boarded.

Yeah.

When the lift-operators asked me why I looked like the abominable snowman, I could tell them what happed.

“I was snow-boarded and it almost killed me.”

They’d get a kick out of that.

So I managed to get a ski off and roll over onto my knee and then I stood up out of the big hole I had made for myself. I then put on my ski and skied warily down the last remaining section, like a boxer trying to find his corner in the eleventh round after a knock-down that almost ended the fight. I skied slow and careful as something didn’t feel right and then my left ski went hair-wire and I crashed again.

Crap!

Not only had I been snow-boarded, but I had broken my ski.

ADDENDUM- The ski-lift operators took pity on me and radioed up to the rental office and they set me up with a free pair of rental skis for the few hours remaining in my tank. I quit early for the first time this season (even though I was enjoying the new powder skis they lent me), and then slept in my truck for an hour (to sleep off the adrenalin) while my friend kept skiing and we eventually made it back to Selma to find a broken branch next to my friend’s car and the power out at my place until long after I fell asleep on the couch…

WooChow Wee!

1 comment:

Jeannie said...

Quite the adventure! Sorry about the broken ski. I wondered, the way you hit the powder what your skis would do.