Believe it or not, there was a time in my life — many years, in fact — where I was convinced I would never see snow. If you know me, or if you’ve read enough of my writing, you know that I grew up in Florida and didn’t see snow until I was in my early-20s. Prior to that, I was convinced that I was stuck in some strange, perpetual summer and that I might tragically die at a young age having never experienced the magic of snow.
Of course that seems ridiculous now, but the first time I saw snow, it was the most incredible freaking thing I had ever experienced and it totally changed my life and turned me into a winter fanatic. I love the cold. I love snowshoeing. I love sledding. I love watching snow fall from the sky.
Every year I’ve lived in the North (about 7 years now!), I’ve promised myself I would learn to ski and snowboard, but every year, it never worked out. Too expensive. No one to go with. Didn’t know enough to go alone. But mostly, too expensive.
Well, this year on my 29th birthday, I decided that was going to change. No more excuses. I was not going to turn 30 next year and still be disappointed in myself that I had never gone.
With a snowboard rented from the local ski shop, my boyfriend and I headed up to Willamette Pass early in the morning the next day. It was already packed when we got there, and big, fat snowflakes were falling from the sky. We waited in a long line for lift tickets, trudged back to the car, and then finally got out to the ski lift.
Being the ever supportive and patient partner that he is, Asa talked me through the basics of how to stand on the board and practice a little on the ground next to the lift. I could see how it would be fun once I got the hang of it, but the thought of sliding all the way down that mountain for the first time with my feet strapped to a heavy board suddenly seemed utterly terrifying.
Today was not the day to be terrified, though. Today was the day to be brave, because I had always wanted to do this, and this was my chance.
To get up to the ski lift with a snowboard is awkward, at best. You have your front foot strapped in, and you kind of scoot your way up with you back foot, as if you’re riding a skateboard (except it’s huge). Once the person ahead of you gets on the lift, you quickly scoot yourself to where they were standing, and let the chair scoop you up. Then you pretend you’re not dangling 60 feet in the air on a park bench hanging from a cable with one foot strapped into a snowboard, and ride it to the top. I’m pretty sure a nervous-giggled most of the way up. Next comes the fun part.
As you get to the end of the ski lift, the ground comes up under you, and — get this — you’re supposed to stand up place you free back foot in the middle of your board, and gracefully ride it down out of the way so the next person getting off the ski lift doesn’t run into you. HA HA HA. HA. HA. Right. I fell on my butt. Every. Single. Time. Granted, I got better at scrambling out of the way each time, but it sucked.
Anyway, at this point, you’re supposed to get your other foot strapped in, and then stand up and start your descent down the mountain.
My first run down took FOREVER because every time I would get myself up, I’d fall on my butt again whenever I had to steer or stop or change speed. It was a slow process, but I was laughing the entire time and having such a blast. Asa patiently snowboarded alongside me and stayed nearby, gently encouraging me and checking in on how I was doing. “I’m having so much fun!” I kept telling him, and it was the truth. Despite how exhausting it was to keep falling and standing up, I was stoked beyond measure.
By the time we got down the first time, I was totally shaken up and buzzing on some strange adrenaline high, but I knew I had to go again. We went back up (this time with less nervous-giggling on the ski lift) and did the same run again, and I was able to stay standing longer and it was even more fun than the first time. I still fell every time I had to stop, but I was able to slowly ride my way down with more control and a little more speed.
For the most part, I stayed with the same run, with the exception of trying one longer run. This was quite a bit harder, mainly because of all the little kids that kept zooming around me. After this one, I took a break for a while in the ski lodge, realizing suddenly how exhausted I was, and how much my neck hurt from whip-lashing myself on a forward-facing fall.
After a short break, Asa came back for me and we snowboarded down the original slope a couple more times, but by then my muscles were completely shot. My knees felt shaky, my calves hurt from the boots, and my wrists were sore from landing on them so much. It was hard to feel like my body was failing me, when my head was still so much in the game and I wanted nothing more than to keep snowboarding down that mountain.
It was such an amazing experience, it glide down through the snow with amazing views, through a gorgeous forest. A few times, the sun peeked out, showering everything in a glittering golden light. By the time we headed out, though, the clouds were back, and more snow was beginning to fall.
I don’t know that I’ve been so tired and so sore in a long time, but believe me when I say that was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done and I cannot wait to go again. Would recommend, 10/10.