Sunday, February 11, 2007

WIld and Wet Day at Kirkwood

With a close eye on the weather report all week, I scheduled a trip up to Kirkwood yesterday on the Bay Area Ski Bus. The day started off with a comedy of errors. I called a cab to pick me up at my apartment and bring me to Sport's Basement in Sunnyvale, where the ski bus was supposed to leave at 4:15 AM. We pulled up at around 4:12 AM and low and behold, a motor coach was parked on Kern avenue with its left blinker on. Just as we pulled up behind it, the bus departed. Th e cab driver wasn't too helpful but I told him to flash his brights to get the bus's attention. No luck. We started to chase bus down, first one left turn, then a second. I was really starting to get nervous. At the third intersection, there were two left turn lanes. The bus got in the inner left turn lane, and the cab slid into the outer one. I rolled down my window and waved the bus driver to pull over. Success!

I jumped out of the cab, threw a $20 at the driver and went directly to the door of the motor coach. A rather dismayed looking 30sih woman came of the bus and looked at me with some contempt. "You're not Kelly are you??" "No," I said, "why is this bus leaving so early, I thought it departed at 4:15." "This is the teen bus," she explained, "you chased down the wrong bus." I had only seen one bus on the street. It turned out, my bus was tucked away in the parking lot and invisible from the street while speeding by after the first bus. After a short walk back to Sport's Basement, I quickly jumped on the bus and found a seat for the 4 plus hour trek up to Kirkwood.

When we got near the mountain, the snow started to fall. Great news! I was excited and anxious to get out and make some turns. We were delayed by 30 minutes when we had to attach snow chains to the bus. It normally could be done in about 15 minutes but the driver was having some trouble. By the time we got to Kirkwood, it was nearly 10:00 AM. Arriving one hour after the lifts had started on a powder day was a bit of a letdown.

I rushed off the bus, snatching my lift ticket, and headed for the mountain lodge. I decided to check into to Expedition Kirkwood to see if my favorite ski instructor was available that day. Debs was there and available. After some creative rescheduling, I was able to snag a two hour private lesson from noon to 2. Happy, I went off to the demo center to get some skis for the day.

The demo center was jammed with four or five clearly stoned attendants munching away at breakfast. None of them seemed to want to help. I quickly filled out the rental forms and stood there with the clipboard in my hand for over a minute before one guy finally asked me if I needed help. We selected some skis and then went to the boot area where I usually have a hard time. You see, ski boots are a bit like torture chambers for you feet. Without a good fit, you are guaranteed to have an awful day out on the slopes no matter the conditions. After trying three pairs, I finally found one that fit. We needed to make some adjustments to the boots to allow for a bit larger sizing. This is done with some tools and I was shocked to see the attendant didn't want to do this. Instead, he tossed the tools at me and walked away. Needless to say, this pissed me off. I mean, I'm paying top dollar for demo skis and boots and I'm expected to set them up myself? What's next, they give me the skis and have me set the bindings? Why don't I just get stoned, eat breakfast, and hang out there in a daze with the rest of them?

Anyway, after that drama was resolved I was finally able to hit the slops. I know Kirkwood quite well having skied four or five times there prior. I wanted to go to the backside but the tell-tale sound of dynamite blasting let me know it was closed for avalanche conditions. Oh well, with plenty of terrain open and the snow falling, I was sure to have a good time on the front side.

It was on about the third or fourth run when I realized I was getting wet. The snow was heavy and would turn to water once it reached my body and the head I was putting out. My gloves turned into sponges and could be literally wrung out to reveal just how wet it was. A few degrees cooler and there would have been more snow and it would have been all powder. Oh well, I guess after nearly a month of no snow, you can't expect every storm to drop the fluffy stuff.

The lesson that afternoon was great. I was a bit tired from the long drive up there and the fact that I had just finished an exhausting martial arts workout two days prior. I asked Debs to take it easy on me and we stuck to mostly blues and blacks. Still, I had a great lesson and we worked on some techniques and tuning my stance. Debs is a really great instructor in that she knows you are there to learn but also to have fun. She pointed out some things I was doing wrong but never made me feel bad about it in the process. I improved dramatically, she said, from the last time we had skied together which was in early January. I think part of it was just confidence and my desire to improve.

At the end of the day, the trip back from the mountain to the bus absolutely sucked. The parking lot and street were like a like, all the wet snow having melted and pooled up at low ground. Soaked, I got on the bus and changed into the driest clothes I could find. I popped a few Vicadin from my doc and settled in for the ride home.

Sphere: Related Content