montana – day 2

after an extremely restful sleep thursday night, we were awakened by the wafts of something delicious coming from the kitchen.  steve had whipped up a good ‘ole american breakfast for the crew, complete with eggs, bagels, fruit, and, of course, bacon.  what a delightful surprise!  i couldn’t think of a better way to start the day before hitting the slopes.  oh, wait.  yes, i could.  setting the theme song for the day!  while we were enjoying breakfast, for whatever reason people couldn’t stop singing “africa” by toto, and just like that, it was the song of the day.

everyone cleared and cleaned their dishes and then piled into the cars to drive over to base.  before we could go shredding anywhere, we first needed to pick up our passes.  ben led the group right over to the lodge and stuck us in line to wait with everyone else.  i felt quite out of place without all my gear on yet but did my best to look the part and act like i knew what i was doing.  i knew it wouldn’t be long before we were ready to go, so we patiently waited our turn as we took in the surroundings.

first of all, it amazed me how much energy there already was in the crowd.  it was my impression that the typical person coming to big sky knows the skiing and snowboarding ropes pretty well, and these people were ready to get on those lifts and tear up the mountain.  the energy was infectious, and i found that i was eager to get into my boots and find my way to the bunny slopes.

it wasn’t long before phillip was strapping my lift pass to my pants and we shuffled aside to get all suited up.  i already had on my base layers, pants, and jacket, so the next order of business was the boots.  the nice folks at lone mountain sports had given me a quick tutorial the day before on putting on boots, so i slipped off my sneakers and grabbed the left boot.  for about a solid 30 seconds, i sat there struggling, unable to bend my ankle at all and get my foot all the way forward.  i glanced around to see if anyone else was in a similar predicament.  nope, only me.  i grunted and tugged and pushed but could not get that thing on.  i finally decided i was wise enough to realize i needed help, so i hollered at ben to assist.  i was quite grateful when he told me that ski boots can be tricky to get on and that he would be more than willing to help out.  with a little more wiggling and pulling, boom!  the left boot was on!  i felt like a champion already!  with some new-found confidence, i tackled getting on the right boot all by myself.  it may have taken me a few minutes, but soon enough both boots were on and i was more ready to go than ever!

next was to get ourselves outside and start shredding up some snow.  with that, i stood up and made my way to the door.  kind of.  even though i knew the boots were heavy when i was carrying them, i was not prepared for the awkward heaviness i would experience with them actually latched to my legs.  i truly wish i had a footage of me trying to walk around in those boots for the first few minutes because i know i looked as strange as i felt.  you know, though, there’s comfort in knowing that everyone looks just as funny as you when walking around in their ski boots, so i donned my helmet and goggles, lugged my skis onto my shoulder, and marched right on to the base of the mountain.

most of the group headed towards the mega lifts, but phillip so nicely stayed by my side and we clipped into our skis and hopped onto the carpet to the first green run.  i didn’t have plans to take a lesson, so the night prior the group had given me pointers on pizza and wedges and french fries and how to fall the right way.  like a lot of things in life, skiing is something that you just have to try for yourself in order to learn, so that’s exactly how i started my first ever skiing experience.

besides, of course, not wanting to fall, my primary goal was to stay out of the way of the serious skiers and not get run over or cause any injuries.  i managed to accomplish the latter but in my first few runs ate some serious snow as i tried to operate these long skis attached to my legs and these gangling poles hanging from my arms and, oh, the momentum of hurtling downhill.  now, in reality those green runs weren’t too steep or treacherous at all, but when you’re new to the sport, everything at first feels a little more intense.

after a few times at the bottom run, the carpet operator (who knew i was a newb) suggested i try out bear basin, so that is exactly what i did and, oh man, was i happy i did!  bear basin was the perfect new skier run on the mountain.  it was a nice wide run with pretty much only beginners weaving back and forth and was the nice, slow pace i needed on my first day.  the staff were super friendly and helpful, and there was no pressure at all to show off or over do it.  phillip gladly spent the rest of the morning on bear basin with me as he got his ski legs back and as i practiced the basics over and over and over again.  practice makes better, right?  right!

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around lunch time, we met up with the crew at montana jack’s to swap stories and enjoy some drinks.  everyone (even the newbs) was wearing smiles as we drank some local brews and rested our legs.  since our big breakfast had filled us up, phillip and i just nibbled on a little beef jerky and then bundled up to get back at it again.  after all, we weren’t in montana for the food – we were there for the mountain!  rar!

phillip and i spent the sunny afternoon back at bear basin, where i even did a couple runs without my poles!  in those fun few hours, i realized i wasn’t as cold as i was scared i would be.  if i recall correctly, the high that day had been about 35 degrees, which as we all know now is summertime compared to the recent polar vortex.  i was honestly pleasantly surprised with how warm all my layers kept me.  i was worried i would need something between my leggings and ski pants, but i was toasty as could be!  a big winter jacket, fuzzy ski mask, thick gloves, and waterproof wool socks didn’t hurt either.

tuckered out from a fun, full first day, we eventually all ended back up at the cabin, changed into more comfortable footwear, and then trekked back to the resort to find some dinner.  we weren’t in the mood for anything fancy that night, so everyone was on board with grabbing a slice or two from pizza works.  there was something super relaxing about nomsing on some hot pizza in the cold winter night.  i mean, i’d recommend it.  🙂

after pizza we weren’t quite ready to head back to the cabin yet, so we moseyed on over to the lodge to see what was what.  lots of people were out socializing like us, and we drifted from one store to the next before stopping to pick up some additional essentials, including beer, snacks, and ice cream.

later that night back at the cabin, things were pretty low key as everyone unwound from a busy first day on the slopes.  even though we couldn’t get the fire started, things were still cozy in the great room as we all gathered around to watch some larry enticer send it videos.  don’t worry, i didn’t get it either, but after some ice cream and pinot grigio, you’ll be laughing right along like me.

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