Last week was Spring Break and we went up to the mountains. Our friends lent us their wonderful cabin to stay in, up in Arnold. We love it there! The weather wasn’t ideal – overcast and rainy, then snowy and then finally, on the very last day, sunshine! But we packed in some great stuff.
On Friday, it was raining pretty steadily. I logged a few wet miles running and then in the afternoon we went hiking along the Arnold Rim Trail. The ART is a 12-mile trail through the wilderness that snakes down the mountain to Avery. We planned a 5.5 mile loop to San Antonio Falls. We put on all our waterproof clothes and set out hiking.
I have to be honest, I am not comfortable in the wilderness but I know it’s good to be out of my comfort zone. As we hiked deeper and deeper into the forest, I tried not to think of Mama Bears who might be out of hibernation and looking for food for their babies. We whistled a lot, sang a lot and made a lot of noise. The trail was indeed beautiful – no real views except gorgeous trees everywhere. Our planned loop was curtailed when it became apparent that we needed to cross what is currently a fairly fast-flowing river so we retraced our steps back home and made it out of the forest with no ursine sightings. Only later did my husband tell me that he was pretty edgy too about bears and wished we’d had bear spray. That might have been wise!
On Saturday, we finally made it up to Bear Valley to cross-country ski. I did this for the first time a few weeks ago and LOVED it…this time I’d be taking my boys. The people at Bear Valley XC were super-kind and helpful and before long we were out on the pistes. The sky was grey but the overnight snowfall made it incredibly beautiful. We got into our groove fairly quickly and swooshed around the trails, before getting lunch and hot drinks in the gorgeous A-frame cabin. We headed out towards a meadow but the weather closed in quickly and we hightailed it out of there. Visibility got very poor and I was a little scared, got to be honest, (visions of the Donner party) but eventually we made it safely back to the trailhead. I really love cross-country skiing…it’s so peaceful and beautiful. The Husband liked it but his heart definitely belongs to downhill. The Dude adored it…he sang the whole way round and kept saying ‘This is awesome, Mummy’. I somehow seem to have unexpectedly got myself a ski-buddy!
And then, on Friday….there was a skiing miracle.
After 13 years of skiing…13 years of fear, frustration, rude words, tears and broken bones I FINALLY learned to do parallel turns. Now clearly most people learn this on day 3 of ski school in their very first week. However I have never ever been able to do it, despite weeks of ski-school, pizza-wedging my way down the slopes with screaming quads and little control. Before we left that morning, the Husband got me to watch a few videos and I learned two little nuggets that changed my world.
1 – I needed to start my turn much earlier than I was currently starting it. By the time I’d start turning, it was already too late.
2 – I needed to lean into the mountain as I turned.
It was a glorious day. I won’t ski in bad weather but Sunday was perfect. We set off on the green slopes. I started my turns early. I chanted ‘Lean IN to the mountain’ every single turn and somehow I was turning. I glanced down at my skis. Parallel. I turned again. Parallel. I’d done it.
I have NEVER enjoyed skiing as much in my entire life. My legs didn’t hurt, I wasn’t scared, it was like flying. I tested my new skills on harder greens. Yep, still parallel. So we went onto a blue and boom, I was still parallel! We did those runs over and over again but the mental difference was incredible. I flipping loved skiing! I was finally a skier.
I know you might still be marveling that it took me 13 years to master something so basic and I know I’m making too much of this but seriously, I don’t care. I am thrilled and beside myself with pride and relief! It’s ironic that skiing clicked for me on the very last day of our California skiing life. Skiing for Brits entails a flight to Europe, it’s not just a long drive in the car to Tahoe, so it’ll be harder to ski in the future but I am honestly stoked to finally be able to do this and to be able to test my skills in the Alps next winter.
Thanks, California for the unexpected winter gift!