Friday, February 11, 2011

Night Skiing

Photo by Brian J. Gibson.
Before this weekend's memories overtake the previous weekend, I need to share this feeling. Sometime last year, my pal, Camille, bid on a weekend ski condo package in Keystone to benefit the Center for Native Ecosystems. Being a generous soul, Camille opted to share her bounty with me, Kirk and another lovely couple, Mike and Michelle. 

View from our balcony.
I'd never been to Keystone but our condo was literally at the bottom of the slopes. We pretty much walked out the front door and got in the lift line - amazing. Though we didn't hit the slopes until 10:30 a.m. (we partied a wee bit the night before), we still had the entire day ahead because the slopes do not close until 8 p.m.

That's right, Night Skiing, baby!

The last time I had skied at night was in the 80s, which means I recall no details, only that it was surreal. Still, my 11:30, by legs were killing me and I didn't think I could last.

We stopped for lunch and persevered through a ground blizzard until about 2:30 p.m., when Kirk left the slopes out of concern for his right knee, which he'd hurt in the past. I opted to remain for a few more runs - didn't want to waste the pricey lift ticket and the beautiful, if not moody, Colorado day.

And so, up and down I went, sticking to blues/greens, for I have nothing to prove and need my body for future adventures. To my surprise, my legs stopped hurting and I was starting to hit my groove. Again and again, I'd ski down the mountain with the thought, "This will be my last run." Again and again, I'd say to myself, "Wellllll, maybe just one more."

This went on and on, until about 4:30 p.m. when the night lights came on and I remembered the Night Skiing. Holy cow, I can't leave now! And so, I skied for another two hours on nearly empty slopes and it was the most fun I've had in much too long.

Photo compliments of
With what felt like the entire mountain all to myself, I skied from one pail green spotlight to another, whizzing and turning like a skier who - for that day anyway - knew what she was doing. (Somehow, I never did fall.) It was glorious - I did NOT want to stop.

Riding up in the pitch-dark gondola with other skiers, we couldn't believe our luck:
"Isn't this great!" 
"The snow is perfect!" 
"There's nobody here!"
"I'm not even that cold, are you?" 

Understand that there are a few things that captivate Coloradoans. After nearly five years here, I feel comfortable listing the Top 5:
  1. Skiing/Snowboarding
  2. Denver Broncos
  3. Outdoor Adventures: hiking, biking, mountain climbing, etc. 
  4. Religion
  5. Skiing/Snowboarding
Oh, I love skiing, don't get me wrong but the long drive and ensuing traffic, the cost (Keystone full day lift ticket, including night skiing: $97), the gear (I have my own but many have to rent), the effort to get all the gear on and the day-long exertion all makes one ask: Is this even worth it?

As I whooshed down those slopes on Saturday night, the answer was a resounding YES! Because nobody was around, I felt comfortable yelling at the top of my lungs things like, "WHEEEEE!" and "GOD BLESS COLORADO!" Why don't I do this more often? The experience was exhilarating. Traveling in the dark at high speed, propelled only by the laws of gravity and your own body? Nothing beats it.

Eventually, I started to worry that my pals back at the condo were holding up dinner on my account. When I finally decided to call it a day, I came limping 'home' to a roomful of friends cheering my stamina.

Getting those boots off was like giving birth, I tell ya, it felt like they'd been welded to my skin, but a cold Corona and a hot tub in the snow were my rewards. Oh, that and the feeling that I had just had my best day of skiing in my life.

As for the state-wide skiing obsession, I think I get it now. Big thanks to Camille and Kirk for making it happen.


Laurianna said...

So awesome Heather! It is amazing what a great mountain will do to you! I remember that first time I ever skied, it was with you at Big Bear. I was in awe at your ability! Because I had none. Still don't but enjoy an awesome mountain, and good a good ski story.

Maybe someday we will get to do Taos.


Kath said...

That list? I don't do any of that stuff :-)

Glad you had a great time - hope Kirk's knee didn't suffer any further damage!


hotdrwife said...

So exciting!! It's definitely something to experience and I'm glad you got to go, friend.