Thursday, January 13, 2011

*Eagle Point Ski Resort: Learning to Ski as a 50-something

Who doesn't love a day off of work or school to do something purely fun?  Bridger and I skipped school to have some mom/son time at the local ski resort near Beaver, Eagle Point.  

Bridge took a snowboarding lesson, and I spent most of the day working on my beginner level skiing techniques.  Notice I said "beginner level."  This day was my first day NOT wearing "adult learner" skis. I was excited to try things out at my own pace while Bridger was with a professional instructor.

I noticed our location was surrounded with signs marked with green circles, indicating beginner level trails. This was the place for me. The hills looked inviting and gentle, and so I began my first run. I do not know HOW I missed my chair lift, but later that morning, I found it, and cannot fathom how I missed it the first time. Apparently, I was lost in the moment ,and skied right past it.

Immediately, I thought I may be in trouble. I was heading for a narrow tunnel, and signs all around warned SLOW. How much slower could I ski? 

I snowplowed as best I could, and before I knew it, I was sailing down a narrow pathway. There was a sharp turn up ahead. I noticed there were no barricades, no markers, no soft cushy things to keep me on this trail around the curve, and I took note of the very steep drop off on the right side of the trail.  

I had been praying my quick, futile prayer for protection and safety, and before I knew it I was saying many words not appropriate for prayer. I'm not sure prayers sprinkled with such words are very effective.  I have a friend who assures me that God understands; but I have to wonder. I was scared to death.

Somehow I made it down the run, only wiping out once, and when I got to the bottom, the ski lift operator informed me I was his first customer of the day. I bet, I thought. I hadn't seen another soul on my death-defying adventure. I made it onto the lift without incident.
On the way up the hill, I enjoyed the view. The sun was just breaking over the tops of the pines on the eastern horizon. The air was crisp and cold and so very clean. I was lost in this Zen moment. 

But when I arrived at the top of the hill, nothing looked familiar. Where was the Skyline Lodge? Where were all of my friendly little green circle-marked trails? I was surrounded by trails marked INTERMEDIATE. 

The lift operator pointed and said I'd be fine going down THIS particular trail over here, even though it wasn't marked for beginners. Uh-huh. Like I had another option now that I was up here. 

And so began my second descent. Once again: snowplowing, sharp turns, narrow trails, and heart-stopping
scenery over the sides of the CLIFF I was skiing down.  I went as slowly as I could but occasionally gravity took over, and I went flying, uttering my profane prayers once again. When I finally got to the bottom of the very long trail, I knew better than to take the lift I'd just taken; there was another one just beyond it. That must be the one to take back from whence I came.

But alas, that was not to be. At the top of that chair lift there were black diamond (ADVANCED) trails and blue squares (INTERMEDIATE).  

"Um, where are the EASY trails?" I asked yet another unfamiliar ski lift operator. After discussing my predicament, his best suggestion was to take off my skis, hobble over to the parking lot beyond the restaurant, and wait for the shuttle to take me back to the top of the mountain. Whew. Relief was almost in sight. Unfortunately, walking in ski boots any distance is a very treacherous situation in which to find oneself, but provides entertainment for any onlookers in the vicinity.

It didn't help that I misunderstood his directions, and ended up in some homeowner's back yard. I could see the bright, yellow shuttle bus in the distance. I needed to hurry because I sure didn't want to miss my ride back to the world of EASY trails!  

As I hurried, I fell. More than once. Now my hands were freezing , and I was getting winded. It is not an easy feat to hurry in those infernal ski boots. If you've never worn ski boots, imagine running in leg casts. Yeah, your ankles don't flex, and your feet don't bend.  I moved like a spastic Frankenstein.

The bus driver seemed to be chuckling to himself as he told me his job is to direct inexperienced skiers to stay at the top of the mountain where all of the runs are easy. I didn't complain that the trails didn't seem all that well-marked to me, or I never would have ended up in this situation. I just ate my "crow," and let him take me back to safety.
For most of the remainder of the day, I thoroughly enjoyed myself on my bunny hill. I practiced snowplowing, and traversing the face of the mountain on the steeper parts. 

I watched Bridger during his lesson from my elevated perch on the ski lift.  He looked like he was having fun, and he looked like he knew what he was doing. How nice to have someone with him who knows the trail system, I thought. 

We gave Bridger's teacher an hour break during lunch. Bridger must have thanked me a dozen times for bringing him to Eagle Point. The day was spectacular: blue skies, sunshine, and comfortably cool temperatures. The two of us ate pretty quickly, and Bridger suggested we ski until he had to meet back up with Kevin. 

It was fun to see what he was learning.  He only fell once during our run down the hill. You can imagine how impressed I was.

After lunch I enjoyed myself on some easy trails I hadn't tried. I skied into some powder (accidentallly, I might add), and a snow-laden pine tree branch slapped me in the face. When I went to push myself up, my arm dove through about three feet of snow, and I knew I would have to remove a ski.  

While trying to release the binding, I caught my ring finger in the binding. There was no way I could release it with my other hand. So I pulled it out with great pain. It hurts now to type with that poor bruised finger. 

At the end of the day, I decided to try one more intermediate run before I turned in my gear.  It was invigorating, and I didn't fall, but my muscles were screaming from the exertion. The non-beginner runs tend to be a lot longer and steeper. 

Eagle Point was not crowded, the staff was so friendly and helpful, and it is one of the most beautiful resorts I've ever had the privilege of skiing.  

Dylan, my 23-year-old snow boarder wanted to know if there were any steep trails. Oh, yeah. I'd seen them while in the shuttle bus on the way up the mountain. Sheer mountainsides full of moguls and powder. I told him they were steep enough that if I had to peer over the edge of one, I was sure I'd wet my pants! They look extreme to me. That's where the black diamond runs are. I'll leave them to Dylan and Jamie. 

For now, I'm perfectly happy on the beginner runs, and occasionally, an intermediate trail or two. What a great, great day.

Now I'm on a mission:  to get my own ski gear so there's more money for lift tickets!


  1. I am impressed that you tried it at all.

    Oh, I added your blog to my blogroll! That way hopefully other people will come by and read you!

  2. Peggy, am I a follower of your blog? Can you check? Your website is different than mine. I posted a comment but didn't see how to sign up for notifications. Any suggestions?


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