Slush is just alright with me

me on skis
You know how it is when you’re driving on the freeway, perhaps a little, ahem, faster than you should be, like, say 75 MPH in a 70 MPH zone, and you’re a little nervous about being over the speed limit, but then, suddenly, some car comes zooming past you, really zooming, like they are there one moment and then they’re out of sight in seconds, and you realize that they must be driving like 90 MPH or more…and you were worried about getting a ticket?

According to a page on the internets:

Slush happens when snow that is starting to melt becomes even wetter. Wet snow is the stickiest snow in the world and slows you down. Not much fun at all.

While there was definitely some of what I’d call slush down at the chairlifts at Mt. Baker yesterday, I’m more inclined to describe the overall conditions the way they did at the Mt. Baker Snow Report: nice soft snow.

I like all three of those words. Nice. Soft. Snow.

The alternative – bad, hard, ice – was happily nowhere to be found. Neither was there rain nor relentless heavy winds. I considered it a stellar day: comfortable temps (wore a light jacket over an underlayer and light sweater), I made some good progress improving my carving skills, and I had a blast with my family and our new 21-year old Homestay student from Singapore.

Still, it was impossible to escape the complaining by those people whom, I assume, could very likely be the same people who zoom past me on the freeway when I myself am speeding. To those people, as the definition of slush I linked to points out, wet snow slows you down and is not much fun at all.

I’m pretty comfortable now calling myself an intermediate skier, as I spend most of my time on the intermediate, or Blue, runs, and if all I can do is become a great skier on Blue runs I’ll be very happy. I’m not an adrenaline junkie, Black Diamond kind of guy. If wet, soft snow slows me down and allows me to focus on the fundamentals that is just alright with me.


Baker Report: Day 1

Well, it didn’t look much like the photo here, with rain falling on us all day, but we managed to have a great time.

At first, when we realized that the weather forecast had lied to us for the millionth time, we were all a bit disappointed. There was plenty of snow, since 200 inches had fallen in November, but snow wear and rain wear are two very different things. Our poly underwear, jackets, pants and gloves keep us dry and toasty all day when it’s snowing or clear on the mountain, yet our gear is not waterproof and we were soaked through by lunchtime.

Still, it was our first ski/snowboard trip of the year, the slopes were wide open because of a low turnout, so with no long lines at the lifts we crammed in a lot of runs and had a lot of fun. I’m able to keep up with my wife and son a lot better, and so we had more together time.

A friend of ours likes to say, “It’s all skiing!” It’s kinda like the bumper sticker that says, “A bad day _________ is better than a good day at work.” Yet, our friend’s saying is broader than that. To him setting the alarm to get up early the night before is skiing. Packing the car in the morning is skiing. Driving that long, winding road to the ski area is skiing… well, you get the idea.

So the rain? It’s all skiing!

Mt. Baker, here we come!

I’m not a morning person, and I don’t like going to bed early. However, there is one thing that will highly motivate me to hit the sack several hours before my normal bedtime, and do so filled with excitement, like I’m a little kid the night before Christmas or something.

Tomorrow morning will be our first trip to Mt. Baker this season, and I’m already in bed and in my jammies as I write this.

The snow report looks great, the weather forecast appears to be highly favorable, and we’ll be driving up more relaxed than ever before, in the improved safety of our new-used 4-wheel drive Hyundai Santa Fe.

I have a goal to get up to Chair 8 this season, I’m pretty sure that it won’t be this first trip, but I’m determined to get there as soon as possible.

Wish me luck!


On the Go: Snow!

Pursuant to my rain post yesterday, many Bellinghamsters don’t suffer from seasonal affective disorder because they know that when it rains here in town it often means fresh snow at Mt. Baker.

The season starts Thursday!

Sunday, November 8, 2009, Mt. Baker

Anticipation…is keepin’ me way yay yay yay yay yay tin’


I’m a late bloomer when it comes to skiing, and I blame it all on socioeconomic oppression. Seriously!

When I was growing up in New Jersey, I lived in a neighborhood that my parents could barely afford. Consequently, most of my friends’ families had much more money than my family had.

One of the more painful experiences born of that situation hit me hard in high school, when all of my friends could afford to join the ski club, but I could not. Neither of my parents were skiers, so we never went as a family, and then, suddenly, my closest friends would take off every weekend for the mountains, coming back to school on Mondays with exciting tales of their adventures, adventures they had without me.

The worst was a trip the ski club took to Canada, including several nights in a hotel, and the stories of the hijinks from that trip are legendary.

You can imagine the hours of torture I endured, hearing these stories over and over again, for years, not to mention all the talk about the actual skiing, about the snow conditions, and about their latest gear. It was brutal and I developed quite a grudge against the sport, since developing a grudge against my friends would have only led to more alienation.

I finally tried skiing during a winter break from college, on a trip to visit friends in Lyme, New Hampshire. The slopes, typical for the northeast, were unforgiving hard-packed and icy, and I fell, a lot, and I hurt for at least a week.

I didn’t go to a ski area again for nearly 10 years, and considering that many of those years I lived here in Bellingham, an hour away from Mt. Baker, the grudge seemed to be holding its ground.

In 2007, I finally succumbed to enormous peer pressure, the product of being surrounded by skiers and snowboarders, and made my first trip to Mt. Baker for an activity other than hiking. I chose snowboarding, hoping that it might actually be easier than skiing, because, um, there was only one device sliding on the snow instead of one on each foot.

Yeah. Right.

But then, this funny thing happened. Despite the fact that snowboarding brought back all the horrendous physical memories of that miserable experience in New Hampshire, which was tied to all the pain of being left out of ski club in high school, despite the fact that I fell so hard so many times over the course of three trips to the mountain that I ended up in physical therapy…

…I had a blast! If all I did was drive up to Mt. Baker in the winter for the scenery it would be worth it, but to go there with my wife and son and spend the day playing in the snow was more fun than I had had, than we as a family had had together, in a long time.

At the end of that season, I tried skiing again and it was a revelation! WAY more intuitive, it by no means came easy to me, but I was able to stay upright consistently, able to make progress, and by the end of my second season I was able to ski on intermediate trails.

And so, it’s still October but I already have skiing on the brain. I read in the Herald that the first significant snow had fallen at Mt. Baker, I checked the snow report, and the photo I’ve posted here got me incredibly excited.

Life is full of surprises, and it’s a heck of a lot more fun without grudges.

Seeya on the slopes!