The Stoke Level is HIGH: First Turns 2018

It’s Thursday night, and on a whim our friend and his son are over for dinner. We’re sitting around the table discussing “intensives”. This time, it’s a baptism-by-fire ski program for elementary aged kids – two weeks of daily skiing at Alyeska resort. Lessons, free ski, lunch in the day lodge.

Anyway, we’re chatting about this program and the parental participation when it shifts: fresh powder at the resort… ski pass up for grabs… space in the truck… Want to join? The corners of my mouth literally lifted up like a Grinch smile (except without the sinister association). Quick eval of work load, coordinating a pair of skis with an AT setup (more on that later), agreeing on the ungodly hour that I needed to be ready and boom.

Friday found me, like:

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Running chair laps @ Alyeska

I had spent a week in Girdwood over the holidays with my backcountry setup, nordic setup, running shoes, and a sledding tube. I didn’t touch any of them, once.  The conditions have been good/bad/fine all season, and I haven’t gone skiing, once. Oof. I liken the feeling of making your first turns to working out the fascia of your body, or removing that clear plastic off the top of your brand new greek yogurt (you know the one I mean). They’re both invisible, under the covers, and barriers to entry of good food and/or movement… But once you break the seal, crackle the fascia, and click your heels in… Oo la la, it’s wonderful.

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Thank you to The Grind in Girdwood, AK for the wifi and dirty chai… #workingremotely

With all that good mojo and the seal broken, a girl’s just got to keep it moving. Saturday was Ladies Ski day, and a girlfriend and I hightailed it up to Hatcher Pass for a backcountry tour.

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Live your life in color!

Back to the AT setup: for the past 4 years or so I’ve been skiing with a telemark setup. Which is very cool in theory, but in practice I’m not comfortable with the unlocked heel and am not getting better as a skier. I want to be a better skier, and ski more, so my wonderful sister-in-law lent me her AT setup so I could give it a shot. In just two days of skiing, it was incredible the difference in my technique – add new bindings and boots to my 2018 Gear Wishlist.

And a word to the wise (or dingbats like me), figure out how to use your gear before you are standing in the parking lot. My ski partner and I took an extra 10-15 minutes trying to figure out how to put the Dynafits into touring mode, looking at the internet, beating it like monkeys, and laughing hard before we figured it out. After all that, I missed the crucial step of locking in my toe and kicked off both skis 1-3 times each on the skin up. What is this, amateur hour?

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Hi Mom!

The snow was good, save for a little wind crust here and there. We trucked up our usual route, calling it at the first bench and switching over for the run out. It was a gray day and our run was monochromatic, but who even cares? On Ladies Ski Day you go as fast or slow as you want, talk as much or as little as you want, and laugh as hard as you can. We accomplished all of those things.

With the seal broken, a renewed excitement for skiing (seriously, I need to replace my bindings stat), and eight weeks left until marathon training kicks off – my stoke level is high and I want to get after it!

Little Dog Ski Day

I’ve had this fantasy for the better part of a decade, about a little dog – specifically a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel – that will fill a hole in my heart, and be my best friend and adventure buddy. This has obviously been a point of ribbing from my friends and significant other, who for a long time has challenged the fit of that little dog in our adventure life.

Well, I am thrilled to say that adventure by adventure, I am checking the arguments off the list and proving them all wrong! I’ve finally worn Adam down and he’s said “okay” – I can get a dog in 2018 and it can be a little dog!

The final straw that broke the proverbial back? A spring time backcountry ski tour with a Bichon Frise that earned it’s weight in dog treats by going hard.

Adam, Stacia and I went back for a sunny, spring afternoon tour in Arctic Valley with Augie Doggie, a pooch I was dog sitting. Augie ran his heart out, up and down our skin tracks and waited patiently while Stacia and Adam went up to a higher bench. He and I hung out in the sun, snacking and enjoying a beer (he snacked, I beer’ed).

Unfortunately, Augie’s too little to chase us out on skis and even if he could, I was worried we’d knick him with our skis. So the Cool Uncle tossed him in his pack (previously authorized by his dog mom) and skied out. And now Adam knows a little dog won’t cramp our style!

 

Happy Turns (in my backyard)

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It felt so good to get on my powder sticks and run laps at Anchorage’s own Hiltop Ski Area on a Monday night with my soul sister, Hannah. She’s and I sit in the same bucket, of wanting to ski more, liking to ski, and being married (soon-to-be) to these passionate, skiing fanatics that we simply can’t keep up with. Her husband gifted her ski passes to Hiltop to practice, practice, practice her downhill, and she gifted one to me so we could get some turns in together.

Hiltop is short and sweet. There three, maybe four, main runs to the bottom and we lapped each one. Maybe it was the endorphins, maybe the sweet rosy sunset on our faces… I couldn’t help but feel a heart full of gratitude that this little hill exists in Anchorage, that there are women in my life who want to play together and encourage each other to get better, and that I get to experience both.