Getting off the chairlift, I felt stiff.  My legs felt stiff and my back didn’t seem as flexible.

“We’ve got time for maybe 3-4 more trails.  What haven’t we done yet?” I asked Bryon.

“Needle’s Eye, Phantom Bridge, Freeride?”

“I don’t think we did Boiler yet either.”

“Ok, Boiler it is.”

When I first started skiing at Winter Park, a fellow skier told me about the Challenger Challenge.

Challenger is the old double chair that serves about 16 black diamond bump trails off Mary Jane.  Mary Jane is famous for bumps.  Even the blue trails have bumps on Mary Jane.

You can see the look of sheer terror on the faces of tourists who meander over there. I know what happened.  They consulted their trail map, and saw blue trails.  Blue trails that they were sure would be long cruiser runs. But that’s not how Mary Jane works.

Years ago, the management tried to groom out some of the trails, and the locals went crazy. It is sort of a badge of honor to be good enough to ski the bumps of Mary Jane.

The Challenger Challenge demands skiing all of those 16 bump trails in one day.  I’d thought about it numerous times. Even though my bump skiing has improved tremendously over the years, I wasn’t sure I was up to the task.

Still, I’d gotten a chance to ski with my husband this day, and was feeling good. So we gave it a shot.  Everything was going pretty darned well up until around 2:15 when we stopped for lunch.  Even the two Runaway trails hadn’t caused me too much problems.  They are wickedly steep the first 150 feet and very narrow, but all had gone well.

I felt pretty darned cocky — I could do this.  My legs weren’t too tired, and I felt fluid.

But then we stopped for lunch.

Big mistake.

All my muscles stiffed up.  I felt like my brain told my legs what to do, but my legs weren’t responding.  What had seemed effortless, turning through the bumps, felt awkward.  I started resorting on tactics I use during ski lesson.

Flex your ankles harder. Face down the hill. Don’t twist your upper body.

But it wasn’t working.  My body had finally given out. Ultimately, I gave up, three runs short. We’d taken the lift up and it was officially after 4 p.m. We were out of time.

“Let’s take Mary Jane down to the Corridor Trail. Don’t want to chance hurting ourselves on the last run.” I told Bryon.

Still, I felt we’d done well, and felt proud of myself.

I felt the first twinge in my lower back when we got home.

“I feel a little stiff in my back” I said to Bryon.

“Well, skiing bumps does affect your core. I tweaked my lower back a few weeks back when mogul skiing.”

The next morning, I could barely got out of bed. My back locked up. Sitting made it worse. I spent the day hobbling around like an old woman. Thank God, I have two days until I go back to work.

I feel old and tired.  I was definitely feeling the “pain” part of Mary Jane’s famous bumper sticker, “No Pain, No Jane.”

The Challenger Challenge did me in.

For now.