Friday, October 27, 2017

Shovels (and skis) at the ready!

My daughter and her aunt on the bunny lift at Bridger Bowl just outside of Bozeman, MT. 
Okay, maybe not. My kids are excited at the prospect of the first snowfall. Now that it has passed, maybe they'll be ready for the first real snowfall, which hopefully will not show up until the Thanksgiving-ish timeframe.  The last few winters have been rather mild. I am on the fence about liking and hoping that mild winters will continue. I do enjoy the reduced number of alternative workouts involving shoveling, the treacherous driving, the increased heating bills and the mouse invasion. In contrast, I do enjoy some of the activities a snowy winter has to offer.

Getting the kids up on skis these last couple of years has been tremendous fun. I'm hoping to bring them someplace a little bigger than the local Hyland Ski area or Buck Hill. In the coming years these places will be great as I envision being able to drop the kids off, maybe ski a couple of hours and enjoy the remainder of my day, but finding and skiing new places is awesome.

I was in 6th grade (11 years old) when I had my first experience on the slopes. The 6th graders from my school took a field trip to Wild Mountain ski area in Taylors Falls, MN. It was there that I learned the fun of the bunny hill...only the bunny hill. I also must admit I never learned how to stop on that trip. I would take the rope tow up and parallel down the bunny slope and coast to the chalet. I would remove my skis and walk back to the base and repeat. Unfortunately, I did have a collision with one of my smaller classmates. Fortunately, she was okay.

Returning back to school the next day the teacher called me out on my skiing style, dubbing me with the nickname "Kamikaze Joe". My second ski trip followed shortly after on a Boy Scout outing to Afton Alps.  That trip was my first experience on a chair lift and my first time having to stop. Afton didn't have the same big runway that Wild did. I worked the snow plowing some and on my second run down the hill I...fell and sprained my thumb. The injury effectively ended my day on the slopes.

I forgot to mention this was my first time using ski poles as well and had not learned that they were not intended for stopping. The fall also likely involved my partial goring by one of the poles, but I forget now.

What I don't forget was that I was not the unluckiest person in the Ski Patrol building that day. Another skier had apparently fallen from a chair lift and was being stabilized by the patrols. They ended up airlifting that person to the hospital. The lesson for me was to not fall off of the chair lift.

The following winter my ski hobby took off considerably. I enjoyed the sport enough to join my schools ski club. Off we went to the various hills in the area. One really neat thing about living in the Twin Cities is, despite there not being the huge elevation of a Colorado or Utah, there are roughly 10 ski areas within a couple hour drive. Each with a notably different personality. This made for a unique outing each time. I was the kind of kid who didn't stick to any particular group so it allowed me to unadulteratedly explore the hills and take moments to chat with the various people I knew.

High school followed with more skiing as part of a Boy Scout explorer post focused on skiing. Explorer posts are coed so there were a variety of people to interact with.

The main point here is that, as a kid, I loved the variety of the area. Hopefully my kids will feel the same way.

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