Saturday, March 29, 2014

Taking On The Blues

On the chair with Kaitlin Connor and Katie

Sometimes you get a ski lesson when you go to the hill. On Day 2 at Whitefish Mountain I learned a lot about cooking chili. My brother and my sister-in-law have 6 kids and they have season passes to Whitefish. When they take the family up for the day, they mix up a crockpot of chili and plug it into an outlet in the Base Lodge, and it is ready to serve at lunchtime. They bring a up disposable plates and bowls, shredded cheese, a bag of dinner rolls, some corn chips, and Dixie cups for water, and even some hot chocolate and marshmallows for dessert. We commandeered a table for 10 and sat down to a banquet. It was truly inspiring to be a part of this operation, and I wish I had captured it with a photo.

Afton and Scotty show their teeth

Usually when the cousins play, Scott likes to hang out with Cannon and Katie plays with Bailey or Afton. But when we get out on the ski hill, thrill-seekers Scott and Afton tear up the slopes together and Katie spends more time with Cannon on the bunny hill. Although, this time around, Katie was getting good enough that she could keep up with Bailey quite well, while Cannon got some pointers from Krissy.

Bailey and Katie

Including the earlier January trip, by lunchtime on Friday our kids had spent 3.5 whole days on essentially one green run at Whitefish (under chair 6), and it seemed like it was time to try something new. We spent the afternoon exploring a few other runs, riding way up the mountain on Chair 2 to take the easy way down. I won't mention the EXTREMELY AWKWARD group photo that we got taken at the top of Chair 2. I thought we might stand together for a quick group shot, but the photographer seemed determined to create something better. We will never speak of it again.

Scott & Afton

It was a warm day and yesterday's powder was steadily becoming today's slush, so it was easy for the kids to manage their speed on the steeper runs. I loved that there was a little space to the side of the run with some decent powder where I could stretch my legs just a little. It was very enjoyable and I caught glimpses of what future family trips might hold for us.

Snowplow City

Katie in Action

Cannon & Krissy

Eventually, it was time to head back to the lodge. On that final run, Katie and Scott tried their first Blue (Intermediate) runs ever. They also had their worst wipeouts to date. Katie's wipeout was not on the blue run. She handled that quite well. Her problem was that some sleet or hail had started falling just as we set off from the top of the hill and she didn't have her goggles pulled down. She couldn't see very well and eventually she lost her balance and fell forward, sliding down the hill on her face. She never seems to reach her hands out to break her fall. I knelt down and picked her up and just hugged her for a long time while she stopped crying. She wasn't hurt, but it had scared her a bit. I got the snow out of her goggles and set them in place so she could continue on her way down while I followed a short distance behind.

The problem with being one parent skiing with two young kids is that you can't be out front with one without leaving the other behind just a bit, or vice-versa. After I was sure Katie was doing fine I looked back for Scott. I had seen him just behind me as we traversed a wide cat track, but then he had dipped from view and I hadn't seen him pop back up again. Just as I was about to start hiking back up to check on him he appeared in view, shoulders hunched and hands by his sides, obviously distraught. As he usually does, he accused me of various crimes and then we continued down the hill again. Eventually we got to the blue run, and he had another wipeout, but this time it twisted his knee. He tried to ski but he said that it hurt his knee to turn right, so I pulled off my snowboard and had him sit on the back while I sat in the middle between the bindings. I held his skis and poles in my hands and used my feet as brakes while we tobogganed the rest of the way down the steep blue slope to the waiting group, a huge spray of snow shooting out from each heel. It was pretty awesome.

When we got down, Katie was starting to cry because she was tired of waiting in her snowplow position for so long. I asked Connor to lead her down to the lodge by the easiest way possible, while Scott and I kept sledding down to the main lodge, where he was comfortable putting his skis back on again. Why is that final run always like that?

It was a pretty full day, and it took Katie about 4 minutes to drop off to sleep, despite having the sun shining straight in her face and her helmet still on.

Worn Out

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