But beyond the glory of the first turns and the celebratory ride on the chairlift, comes all the chaos and stress of haven't having done something in over four months. Especially when that something happens to be the most important thing in your entire life, except perhaps maybe your spouse.
|Ready & Waiting|
First of all, the announcement always comes at the last minute. Even though you have been trying to schedule your life around skiing, missing opening day is always heartbreaking. That's why we hear stories of people frantically moving meetings the night before and college kids guessing how many classes they can attend and still make it to the mountain by noon. Perhaps you even reschedule your flight home from a business conference because you think you can make it before the mountain closes on that glorious first day. Last minute also means that you probably have made absolutely no effort to gather your stuff, leaving Day One morning to a ruckus of throwing gloves willy nilly everywhere trying, without success, to find a matching pair - or even ones that will fit you. You've got the wrong lenses for your goggles, you grab your puffy coat because you think it will be cold but then, wait, you could be blasted by snow guns and then what are you going to do??? Do you wear long johns or not? You have no idea but it doesn't matter because whichever choice you make it'll probably be the wrong one for either the staircase or the chairlift.
|Yeah, I got a DAY ONE hat!|
Next, you have to get your pass in order. Oh man, why didn't you do this before?! This would seem to be an easy task, but it never seems to work out that way. Vouchers, pay stubs, money transfers, receipts all need to be found before you even try heading to the pass office. Desperately hoping that no one is blocking the line ahead of you, sweating - and I mean, seriously sweating - in all your ski gear as you constantly look down at your phone and try not to rudely tap your foot. Nothing is worse than trying to get your pass on Opening Day. Dumbest thing you could do, but sometimes there is no way around it. Waaaaay too much stress and then your picture usually sucks on top of it all because you had to take your hat off and now you have embarrassing hat head for the entire season. ugh.
|The Stairway to Heaven|
Now you are freaking out because not only are you going to be later in the line, missing the cherished first gondi ... but now you might miss getting your DAY ONE hat!! So now you are practically running to your car and going way too fast up the Access Road to Snowshed only to see SOO MANY PEOPLE ahead of you! Noooo!! Now you start getting a little more stressed because you can see the amount of boxes of hats and the amount of people in line and you are seriously getting worried that you won't get that damn hat. Which really pisses you off, because it should be about the skiing that you're finally going to get to do but instead all you can think about is whether or not you got there early enough for a hat and how much earlier would you have had to get there to get the Yeti thermos ... So you sigh in frustration and try to get your breathing under control while you wait "patiently" for the next hour and a half for the lift to open. And you think to yourself that maybe you could have come after lunch and been all relaxed with no people ... if only you didn't want that hat!!
|Perfect Snow Angel Snow on Upper Double Dipper|
And then the waiting ... the time when all you can do is focus on your breathing, hoping that the butterflies in your stomach will go away before you vomit on the person next to you. You see friend and after friend show up with sleep in their eyes and the weirdest outfits of the season. Yep, those mismatched gloves look completely normal once you see that no one else could find the right stuff for the day anyway. Amidst all the hugs and cheering, you are quietly working your way toward the front of the line, hoping that no one will notice as you use that friendly hug to pull you ahead of another group of people. Your skis split apart and drop on the concrete, and the muscles in your neck start to tighten as the lifties move closer and closer to dropping the rope ...
|Snowmaking makes everything beautiful|
.... and then you are off and running, using the final dash to make the first gondi, or the second if you could just get in front of that person and ... damn it ... you get pushed out of the cabin and feel everyone laughing at you as you make your way to the 3rd cabin like the newly found loser that you now feel like. But don't worry, you think to yourself, I'll be faster on the walkway. Ahhh, the damn walkway and your love-hate relationship with it all. The gondi ride seems like a dream as you soar up into the wintery wilderness that is the top of the mountain. Korey stands by as you jump out of the cabin, grabbing your skis and running full speed in your wretched alpine boots down the Cascade headwall and ... OF COURSE you get stuck behind the older/injured/super slow person who has no intention of allowing you to pass or them to speed up. You keep kinda bumping them, not wanting to make an enemy of anyone on today of all days, but still so absolutely anxious that you have GOT TO GET THERE AREADY!!
|Free Lunch at the Peak Lodge!!|
You come around the final turn and there it is. In all it's glory. The unloading ramp of the North Ridge Triple and the entrance to the Reason Park. You made it. You MADE IT!! There is snow everywhere - on the ground, on the chairlift, on the trees and you take a deep breath because you can smell the wonder of the white world. You throw down your skis and try clicking into your bindings, only to find that you're so anxious and excited and everything else that you can't line your heel up properly and you impatiently knock your ski over. Now you have to bend over and do it again with people are launching all around you and you're MISSING IT ... but wait, you hear that first click and then the second one. You pull your goggles down over your face and adjust your pole straps, pushing off with one final breath, you make that first turn ...
|Last cabin for the night|
And you are skiing.
And all is right with the world.
May You Find the Spirit of the Mountains Within You,