Sean’s birthday was at the end of February and his request was seemingly simple…a weekend ski trip to Flagstaff. Yes, Arizona has a cooler climate just two hours north of Phoenix, which is pretty neat in both winter and summer.
My only snow sport experience was snowboarding with a high school group over 10 years ago, so naturally, I was like, yeah, let’s go and I’ll snowboard and it will be great! Then as the weekend got closer, I started to think about how long ago high school was, I remembered the huge bruise I got on my butt and the feeling when my group wanted to go for one last run and I was no thanks, DONE, see ya at the lodge. I remembered that 17-year-old Megan was a little more fearless and didn’t think about how dangerous it actually was to fly down a mountain with a board strapped to both feet. It’s a good thing I found this AFTER our trip:
11 Signs Snowboarding is Impossible
But, then I remembered that an ex once called me “naturally athletic” (not that I’ve clung to that or anything) and I was like “I got this.”
Then my sister (who has been snowboarding for years) told me to wear a helmet and the guy who rented us our equipment told me it only takes 15 pounds of pressure to break a wrist so when I fall (not if) I should fall on fisted forearms and I got a little worried again. Spoiler alert: I didn’t take either of their suggestions, but I’m still in one piece.
Then I watched a YouTube video about how to get off the lift with a snowboard and I was like, “I got this.”
If you’re concerned that Sean was not around during all of this, remember his request was a ski trip. He hasn’t snowboarded and didn’t want to learn with me. I considered skiing with him so he could help me, but in my mind, controlling the two seems harder and I’d rather build on what I learned 10 years ago. We did stick together, but with no idea what the other person was doing.
So, we started on the bunny slope with the little people mover that mostly takes kids up and down. Fortunately on Friday it wasn’t too crowded, so I got to figure it out without running the kiddos over. I practiced strapping in, getting up, falling down and getting back up. I Googled what direction goofy was because by shoving me forward and watching what foot I caught myself on, the guy at the rental shop determined I was goofy-footed (right foot forward). On the slopes I determined I was indeed regular and rode my board backward for the rest of the time.
Arizona’s been having a very mild winter (sorry, rest of the country), so the snow on the mountain was mostly fake and there was hard ice underneath, which apparently would make it trickier with stopping and sliding, but I pretty much got the hang of it! We graduated to the beginner hill with a real lift and I put my chair skills to the test. That was the only time I really wished I was skiing. I didn’t fall, but it was not easy to get off and navigate to a spot to plop down and strap back in. Meanwhile, Sean gracefully exited the chair and was ready to go, but waited patiently for me. This is seriously the worst part: After lunch, we decided to try the bigger hill and since it was pretty empty, we got right on and headed up. And up. And up. The lift went on forever. Long enough for us to pull out the map and wonder what lift we even got on. Long enough to worry that it was the one that led to the black diamond trails. The lift went so high that we were in the clouds. No one on the lift in front of us, not too many skiiers and snowboarders below. It was pretty ominous. Sean’s afraid of heights and I’m afraid of black diamonds, so we were a bit of a hot mess until we got to the top, which was labeled Prairie Hart, the easy one, thank goodness!
At the top, we had to navigate around some narrow paths and trees to get to the easy part, but we made it and after all that anxiety, it was actually pretty fun, except that we got to the bottom way too quickly! How was it such a long (anxiety-filled) ride for not a very long hill?!
We returned to our beginner hill for a few more runs and called it a day.
Somehow in a ski town, winter is not high season, so we got a really nice hotel room at the DoubleTree for pretty cheap. We rested up before heading to dinner at the Beaver Street Brewery. We love Four Peaks in Phoenix so much, we wanted to check out Flagstaff’s version! My Enchanted Forest veggie pizza (with portobellos and nuts and brie!) was awesome. We were pretty tired from the day, but made one more stop for a drink. Collins Irish Pub doesn’t understand ONE drink because on Friday nights, it’s two-for-one! So, we stayed a little longer and watched a rain storm come in.
The good news was that rain in town meant snow on the mountain! They got about six inches overnight and on Saturday we headed up to the slopes again. For this desert dweller, the snow was an incredible sight (and on the first day of March)! I could have just watched that all day, but what an even better treat to snowboard in it! Day one/day two weather comparison:
As we were heading up from the parking lot, a family asked if we had our tickets yet because they had to leave, so they gave us theirs. I just love nice people and random acts of kindness (and being in the right place at the right time)!
The mountain was much busier on Saturday, so I was really glad I had some basics down. Aside from the downtime of strapping in, we were pretty consistently up and down and my chair exit got much better! I took two pretty good tumbles – one from trying to ride goofy again and one from trying to straighten out too much and go too fast – but other than that, I was doing pretty well. I guess the fact that I was getting brave enough to fall was a good sign!
The “wintry mix” was pretty consistent all day and the powder was much nicer to board on than ice. Eventually it started real snowing. I absolutely hate being cold, but I was bundled up enough that it didn’t bother me. By our last run, though, my hands were pretty miserable, but I was pretty happy because the last run involved cutting across to a different hill and over to the lodge and I got the navigation down! The day before I had just gone down to the bottom and walked back up! Hooray! Aside from hating being cold, I don’t think I could ever move to a place where it snows because I also hate the idea of driving in snow, but fortunately Sean has seen much worse and got us safely down the mountain and we were back home in a few hours!
We got to see the tail end of the great rainstorm Phoenix was getting and on Sunday, it was back to jeans and a t-shirt (and now a week later, tank and shorts), but at least I got a little taste of winter! My only battle wounds were a small bruise on my ankle from my boots, a small bruise on my knee from a fall on the ice and knotted shoulders, but LBH, I always have knotted shoulders.
I was warned not to wear heels the day after snowboarding and I remember being pretty sore after the first time I tried it, but this time I really wasn’t. I would say that being naturally athletic and consistently active really helped my snowboarding learning curve. Not to mention my yoga balance and core strength helped keep me upright more often than not! I don’t want to relearn how to snowboard every ten years and can definitely see myself going at least once a year! Next up…surfing! That’s the summer equivalent, right?!
Have you snowboarded and/or skiied? Which do you prefer? Which is easier?