Christmas in the Mountains: Part Two

After a beautiful Christmas Eve spent on the slopes, my three friends and I settled down into our mountain cabin to enjoy the evening: drinking shots of Fireball + apple cider, playing rounds of Killer Bunnies and Settlers of Catan, and nursing sore muscles by a warm fireplace. With space heaters strategically set around the bedrooms, we fell asleep and dreamt of Christmas.

Early the next morning we awoke to stockings full of oranges and chocolate coins (for health and prosperity) and ate a warm breakfast while we opened the presents under the tree. Outside our cabin, snow was falling thickly, the blue sky of yesterday sheeted in white.

With the snow softly piling up, we bundled in our ski clothes and headed up to the mountain. The day was vastly different from the previous one: our softly undulating groomers were buried in snow, and it was quickly turning into a fresh powder day. Power is usually a blessing to fresh track seekers, but for our exhausted legs, it was a thrilling challenge. Runs that usually took us five minutes to fly down suddenly took thirty, our legs pushed to exhaustion as they worked overtime to keep up with the large bluffs of snow that shredded our muscles.

Once, we made a wrong turn halfway down the mountain and found ourselves on a run that had no ski tracks to define it. We tried to plow through and were stopped short when the snow abruptly buried us to our waists. I had a hard time not laughing at the sheer ridiculousness of it: over sixteen inches of snow had fallen that morning, and trying to move through so much snow was like wading through waist-deep water while covered in weights. I wanted to kick off my skis and roll around in it like a kid does in a pile of leaves, making snow-angels in the fluff.

Jason and Elizabeth, on their snowboards, were struggling to keep moving through the heavy powder, often burying themselves deeper in it in their attempt to get out. After a series of rolls, dragging boards, and flip maneuvers, we eventually gave up, took off our equipment and post-holed through the bluffs to the packed powder further down the mountain. The run was desertedly empty and the falling snow muffled all sound, making us feel very small and alone on a big mountain.

We only made it until lunch. By then, each run was becoming a struggle. I found myself stopping half-way down each to catch my breath and stretch my legs. After yesterday's seven-hour ski-venture, every muscle in my body wanted to rest.

Despite the lure of a full powdery Christmas ski day, we decided to go back to the cabin early. By that time, our jeep in the parking lot was buried in snow, and we joined the many other patrons in an effort to dig out our cars. We managed to drive out safely, but we worried for the smaller 2-wheel drive sedans we saw still parked in the lot. On our way down the mountain we encountered a number of cars having difficulty in the deepening snow. We stopped to aid one couple who were fruitlessly trying to dig out their car, which had gotten trapped on an embankment. A few sharp tugs with a winch and Jason's jeep managed to save the day.

We picked up wood for the fire on our way back to the cabin, and spent our last evening playing Carcassone and wishing our lovely Christmas vacation could last a little longer.