Monday, March 24, 2008


When Sarah’s parents and sister left, we weren’t feeling very well, so we took a day off on Saturday, March 1, and then snowboarded for a few hours in the afternoon the next day. We got some good snow that week, though, so we didn’t rest for long. We checked out Beaver Creek on Monday, Keystone on Tuesday, and Breck on Wednesday and Thursday.

On Friday, we went to Vail. The snow wasn’t quite as good as on the previous days, but it was still great. We did a lot of tree skiing in the Champagne Glade and then went out to the Mongolia Bowl. Brian was racing down the slope and had a close encounter with what seemed like the one and only tree in the entire bowl. He felt a branch brush against his back and kept riding. At the bottom of the bowl, Sarah noticed something odd about his back:

The tree had torn a huge gash in his jacket! That gave new meaning to the phrase “shreddin’ it”! So Brian rode the rest of the day with an extremely well-ventilated jacket. Oddly enough, no one other than Sarah commented on his innovation in jacket ventilation. That night, Sarah sewed it back up – a major undertaking since there was about two feet of torn fabric that needed to be sewn!

We never appreciated the difference between ski and snowboard jackets before, but now we do. Ski jackets have burly material on the outsides of the arms, since that’s the most likely spot to encounter abrasions. Snowboard jackets need burly material on the front and back, since a snowboarder navigates the trees sideways on his board, with trees facing him and at his back. Now that Brian’s doing more riding in the trees, maybe he needs a snowboard jacket.

Oh well, in the end, the jacket is none the worse for the wear, although the new stitches tend to collect snow when Brian falls in the powder.

The next week brought variable snow conditions. Early in the week, it was warm with little snowfall. You might think that spring skiing is a welcome relief after a cold winter. In reality, what happens is that the snow warms up during the day and freezes hard as a rock overnight. Earlier in the season when it was freezing cold all the time, the snow would stay soft for a long time even when there was new snowfall. With the warmer temperatures, fresh powder one day can be hard the next.

On Thursday night, March 13, the forecast indicated overnight snow, so we set our alarm for an early wakeup the next morning. Sure enough, the morning snow report indicated a serious powder day, so we got ready quickly and loaded the car. Only one problem: There was a little black Volkswagen in front of Caroline. At various times, our driveway has up to four cars in it, including the Volkswagen and a little blue car that doesn’t even run and has several feet of snow piled up around it.

No big deal, though – we got the keys to the Volkswagen, shoveled out the snow in front of the wheels, and started to drive it out of the driveway. One more problem: The powder day wasn’t just at Vail. We probably had eight inches of snow in the driveway. And the Volkswagen is terrible on snow. We got it to move, but it had absolutely no traction and slowly ran into the snow bank at the side of the driveway. We dug it out again, but now it wouldn’t move at all. We laid out our chains under the tires for better traction, and now it moved the length of the chains and stopped again.

After an hour of moving the car a few feet at a time, we had it out of the driveway and into the street. But the street wasn’t plowed either, and moving the car any further required going uphill through snow. Every attempt to move the car up the street just resulted in the front end of the car sliding, until the car was pointed downhill, not uphill. We eventually gave up and parked the car down the street a little ways.

At this point, we were still planning to go to Vail, but the conditions even on the plowed roads were sketchy and traffic was heavy, so we turned Caroline around and went back to Breck to ski and snowboard. Later in the day, we found out that I-70 was closed for part of the morning between Breck and Vail, so maybe it was just as well that we wound up at Breck.

To add insult to injury, when we got back that night, our landlady told us that we shouldn’t park the Volkswagen at the side of the road because it’s really hard to get it out afterwards. Ugh! Next time, we’ll wake her up at seven in the morning and have her move it!

Friday night brought another six inches of snow. With 17 inches of snow in less than 48 hours, the boarding at Breckenridge on Saturday morning was pretty fantastic. One of our favorite runs, called The Burn, has a lot of trees that collect the snow and the snow there was especially deep and fluffy that morning. It’s hard to beat a powder day!

On Saturday, we both boarded at Breck, and on Sunday, we rested. The great snow had led us to ski or snowboard 14 straight days, bringing our total to 55 days on the mountain this winter!

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