Yesterday, I had the joy of downhill skiing for the first time this season at Mary Jane, part of Winter Park Ski Resort. As you might have read in my earlier post, I was bitten by the ski bug as a teenager in college, and became passionate and addicted to it from that point forward. So much so, that a few years after college, I ditched a high paying job with a consulting firm to take a minimum wage job at a ski resort in the Sierra mountains out in California, Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort. I barely made enough money to survive, but the free ski pass that came along with the job more than made up for it. I think I skied about 80 days that winter, and loved every minute of it. I returned back to the Ski Bum way of life a few years later moving from San Francisco to Lake Tahoe. I have many happy memories of those days as a Ski Bum, and still downhill skiing brings great joy to my life.
Last year I lost my job, and went through a funk in the waning days of November. On my husband’s urging, earlier in the summer, I had bought a season’s pass to Winter Park for the first time. In prior years we had bought 4 packs to Winter Park or Loveland, but he knew how much I loved skiing, and thought I would enjoy having a full season’s pass. At first, after having lost my job, I was sorry we had spent the money. But going through a loss of confidence, and searching for a new job is really a humbling and somewhat depressing experience. The only thing that brought me true joy, made me feel normal, and picked up my spirits during last winter was going skiing – I became a regular local skier on Wednesdays, and experienced camaraderie with other locals, as well as lots of happy powder days. I truly believe that having that ski pass last year saved my soul, and helped get me out of my funk. And oh what a winter it was — it just seemed to snow regularly and often from early November, straight through a powder day on the last day of skiing in late April. Locals who had skied there for many years said it was the best ski season in 30 years. I can’t help think that the timing of this epic ski season was serendipitous to my circumstances, thanks to the Weather Gods.
So, having these wonderful memories of last year, I couldn’t wait until ski season started anew. Things looked rather bleak as recently as November 10, when we experienced one of the warmest falls in recent memories. And the prognosis wasn’t looking good for the weather to change. But out of nowhere, it did change, bringing in a cold snap and a series of storms that brought 5-6 feet to the mountains in ski resorts over two weeks. Yesterday, Mary Jane, the more advanced area of Winter Park opened for the first day. I got up early, snagged my parking spot in the locals’ C-lot, donned my ski boots and skis and queued up in the line at the Super Gauge lift long with 100 other rowdy skiers. As we waited for the lift to crank up, I caught a glimpse of the “Mayor of Mary Jane”, a bearded fellow in jacket, top hat, and blazer who gets first chair each year for who knows how many years. As the seconds ticked down to 8:30 a.m., and the Super Gauge lift sounded “Beep, Beep, Beep”, all us skiers began to hoot, holler and smack our ski poles together in anticipation. As I got those first tracks through the powder, and felt the soft snow beneath my skies, a smile cracked across my face. My six month wait was over — another ski season had begun….