Hat on Top, Coat Below


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Winter Fun Close to Home

February 25, 2014

Last week, I did something I haven’t done in a very long time: skied in Michigan. I want to say it was sometime in the 90s when I last put boards to snow in the Great Lakes region, and almost didn’t do it this year either. I left almost all my ski stuff out in Idaho, for one thing. It was a weeknight, for another. But some of my coworkers were going to Pine Knob, a hill not very far from our office, and I decided as much as I talk to them about skiing, I really should walk the walk (ski the ski?) when the opportunity arose.

I dug my old ski boots out of the basement, borrowed a pair of ski socks as well as a helmet and goggles from Mr. Karen (he’d brought a lot of his stuff home from Idaho since he has a guys’ trip planned) , and assembled enough layers to keep me warm and dry. When I got to the hill, I paid for the night session lift ticket and ski rental, got my gear, and joined my colleagues on the snow. They agreed to my request that we start on a blue run so I could see how my rental skis felt; in retrospect, that was silly, as a blue (intermediate) at Pine Knob is pretty much the same as a green (beginner) out west, so we could have started on black (advanced), which is what we did next. For the next couple hours, we did laps on the 300 feet of vertical (Schweitzer is 2400+, for comparison), staying out of the terrain parks and beginners’ area but doing pretty much everything else. Sure, the runs were short, but it was still a lot of fun, and seeing the sunset from the top of the hill was a nice bonus.

Sunset from the top of Pine Knob

There’s only so long you can do the same handful of trails before wanting a change, so we took a break mid-evening to have a drink the bar (I don’t usually imbibe during a ski session but given that on this hill the ski patrol shack and lodge were never more than a two minute walk from any point where I might run into trouble, I felt safe having a hard cider). Then it was back on the hill to do more laps. Even though it was a long time ago, I remember being a beginner and not wanting to have anything to do with the “steep” trails; it was so great to not have a care in the world about taking them on now. I even finished out my night by taking on the double black diamond (expert), which might sound impressive, but it was so short I was done in three turns and it was no match for a double black on a genuine mountain. It was adorable.

Not my usual ski togs

I’m so glad I decided to go on this outing. It would have been very easy to skip it and head home from the office as per usual, telling myself it would be better to save the money and avoid being up too late on a work night, but it wasn’t that much money and I felt more energized leaving the hill than I had leaving the office, and got some coworker bonding time in, too. I say it’s a win all around.

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