Bucket List Item #19: Learn a New Winter Sport
Growing up in Southern California, “winter” was just a fun concept we saw in movies. One year on Christmas day, we hiked 9 miles in 75 degrees and had a picnic on the beach in our tank tops. When I moved to Flagstaff, Arizona for my freshman year of college, I was introduced to real SNOW. It was so beautiful and fun!
Even though I lived in the snowy mountain town for four years of college, I never tried any winter sports like skiing or snowboarding. I was part of the NCAA D1 track and cross country teams with a partial scholarship and we were forbidden from skiing or snowboarding because of the risk of injury and jeopardizing our athletic performance.
I moved to Boise in 2016 and even though we live 30 miles from a ski mountain called Bogus Basin, I’ve just always felt intimidated to try it! Driving up the winding mountain road in winter conditions freaked me out, and it seemed like there was an overwhelming amount of gear and equipment and logistics to figure out that I never made the effort to try it.
This year I challenged myself to learn a new winter sport with this bucket list, and a friend of ours offered to go skiing with us and act as our “instructor” because she has years and years of experience.
I borrowed snow pants, snow gloves, and goggles. I rented the boots, skis, poles, and helmet. I only came with my own jacket, and snacks. 😁 The weather was cloudy on our drive up, it snowed off and on all day long, and then cleared up just before we drove back home. I was very surprised at how many people there were on the mountain, especially kids! I had no idea it would be so full. I also had no idea how many different ski runs there were. I guess I always just assumed there were 3-4 ski runs per mountain, but there were a couple dozen routes with three different ski lifts.
Once we got clipped into our skis, Sarah took Zeb and I over to the bunny hill. It’s so small that it’s just a “magic carpet” that takes you to the top rather than an actual lift. It was easy to stay upright because the slope was so shallow. Sarah had us practice doing “Pizza!” with our skis to slow down and zig-zag side to side. After two trips down the bunny hill with ease, I had some false confidence and said I was ready to be done with the bunny hill and move on. The three of us went over to the main ski lift, which serviced several routes at the top of the mountain – all which were blue and black. If you’re unfamiliar, runs are categorized by difficulty level with three colors. Green is easy, blue is intermediate and black is advanced. Black runs would be extremely steep or have some other types of challenges. Sarah said we would get to the top of the hill and find a “blue” route to take down.
The routes were not labeled at the top and there wasn’t any kind of map up there, which we weren’t expecting. We picked a run that looked less steep than others, but my speed got out of control 20 seconds in and I fell down for the first time. Getting back to standing position with skis on is quite the full body workout! And so awkward. It took a couple of minutes to return to standing again, but within a few more seconds I had gotten out of control and my skis flew out from under me again. This was definitely a lot harder than the bunny hill. Slowly we finally made it through this wide area and were brought to a fork in the path. The trail we took ended up getting very narrow, with a drop-off on our right and some very slick ice. I immediately fell on the ice and my boot popped out of my ski. I got so freaked out and nervous, unsure how the heck I was going to make it down the rest of the mountain. Sarah was very patient, and Zeb and I slowly made our way through this narrow portion. We both took turns falling down. When the bottom of the hill was in sight, I was just too shaken up to keep trying so I ended up taking my skis off and scooting down another big portion on my butt. It’s still a full-body workout, pushing my body along in the fresh soft snow and lifting my skis up with every “scoot”! I felt bad for holding Sarah back, but she assured us that it was no big deal.
When we got to the bottom portion, it leveled out a bit and I was able to get my skis back on and finish the run upright haha! I felt less silly about my performance when we got over to a map to look at which runs we had just taken down. Turns out we started with a blue and then transitioned into a black diamond run. Oops! Perhaps a bit of a jump from two turns down a bunny hill to a black diamond…
After the long trek down though, we took a lunch break at the upper lodge. We all ordered tacos and regrouped! Sarah and Zeb both took a more advanced ski run down after lunch, but Zeb had formed some pretty gnarly blisters on both feet and decided that he would retire to the lodge for the rest of the afternoon. Sarah and I went back out for some bunny/green hill skiing for another hour and half and it was much more enjoyable :) The fresh snowfall was so pretty on all of the trees!
Sarah grew up going to Bogus Basin with her family, and her mom started a tradition of making brownies for the car ride home. Sarah continued the tradition with us and brought us some Kodiak protein brownies.
Overall it was such a fun day and I’m so glad Sarah and Zeb were my first ski partners. The mountain was gorgeous and now that I’ve gone through it once, I’m less intimidated by the gear and equipment. We will definitely try it again next year. I can’t tell you how SORE I am now, 48 hours later! It was a fantastic winter outdoor workout too!