Sunday February 17th: Day Two
We woke up to a few inches of fresh new snow. I also woke up to a sore body that needed some water and some serious stretching. We had a pretty nice relaxing morning with some hot oatmeal, some tea, some stretching, and getting ready for the climb ahead.
I got to put my skins (a layer that you place on the bottom of your skis to help you sort of stick to the snow so you can climb up hills) on for the second time ever. The skins I rented desperately need to be cleaned and lacked back clips. Another lesson in plan ahead and prepare. I was having a hard time getting the skins to stick to my skis, so I had to hang them over our stove to get the glue to warm. They finally stuck to more board, but definitely caused me a little grief later in the day.
We got all packed up and rode a little ways down the hill from our hut and then began our hike. Getting my back adjusted was good, but should have been done sooner. Getting my back adjusted also adjusted my hip, and since I had not been using my hip enough it was getting very tight and sore. Within 20 minutes up the hill I had to stop and stretch. Colt, one of the facilitators, decided it was probably a good idea for everyone to stretch a little bit.
When we stopped one of the other patrons, Latecia, noticed I was picking up my whole right foot instead of dragging my foot and pushing my toes forward. After a refresher on proper touring technique, my hip started to feel better, and every time we stopped I would stretch. Knowing your body and being able to read what aches and pains mean is so important especially in the back country. Knowing I just needed to stretch and change my form was huge, and changed the whole trip for me and how I felt about touring.
I still had some challenges but overcoming challenges can be a different kind of fun. I was overcoming a chest cold and nasty cough when we left for the trip and it did cause me some issues but really the fresh air did my lungs more good than harm. It just meant going at a little slower rate so I did not have coughing fits. I also fell and got stuck a couple times and trying to get up with a pack on your back and your poles just dig deeper and deeper into the snow can be frustrating. You have to be willing to find humor in those moments.
Although I was definitely the slowest in the group and was struggling more than the rest; I decided to be a beacon of positivity and humor. The whole group was so understanding of my learning curve and supportive with words of advice and encouragement that I did not want to let a bad attitude affect a really awesome day. It is so easy to let a new and challenging experience frustrate you, and it’s all too easy to let frustration become a negative attitude. Though I did feel frustrated at times, had a few moments of “what the heck am I doing here?”, and was struggling physically, I had an incredible experience.
I have been snowboarding for 12 years, and seriously hiking since last summer, and this was by far the most rewarding I have felt in those experiences. Earning your turns down a mountain tastes so much sweeter than getting 30 runs in an afternoon. And after a while your body starts to tap into its muscle memory and you are not working as hard.
There was a point about half way up, that I was thinking holy crap there is no way I can make it all the way up there. After taking a quick water break, I realized that this may be hard for me but how lucky am I that my body is this strong and capable, and I am fortunate to be out here in this amazing place with some incredible people, and just realized my attitude was the only thing that would keep me from getting to the top. Getting to the top of that hill made me realize I have no idea what my body is capable of. I came into this with virtually no training, no backcountry experience, no touring experience, and made it all the way up.
We took a few small runs down and hiked back up, and then got to ride all the way back down. That ride down was worth the whole hike up. My body hurt in places that I don’t even know their names, I was beyond tired, I was hungry, and I was so satisfied with my day.
The night held events of its own. We had a delightful stir fry for dinner and played the brown paper bag game, which was hilarious and really impressive! If you don’t know what the paper bag game is, you might just have to come on our next trip to find out yourself. And believe me you want to play this game. We hit the sauna to end the evening and drifted off to a much deserved slumber
Photo By: Jess Brown