Snow is so beautiful. It is so dynamic. I love how it changes everything, coating creeks, boulders, hillsides, transforming them into wintery lumps. It clings to branches, rimes over tree trunks, blows into cornices, crumbles and slides in avalanches, develops sun crusts, wind crusts, runnels, and hoar. It can be powdery bliss, crusty crud, swooshy corn, and about a billion other things, and it can be all those things at once, changing throughout the day, minute to minute. You can go from skittering over ice to sinking into feathery fluff simply by entering a shadow or dipping around a bend. Snow has sparked a deep fuse of curiosity in me, and I have decided to spend as much time playing in it as possible. The only hang up is that I do not know how to move through it with grace and style yet- but don’t worry, at least I have a smile on my face as I fall repeatedly.
For the past couple of winters I have been spending as much time as possible (at least a few weeks…) up in Tahoe trying to teach myself how to telemark ski. I call this my Most Unskilled Ski Bum In The World Project. I will never be a shredder, I will never go off 50 foot jumps or learn to do a back flip. I will never learn to huck cliffs or fling myself off cornices. In short, I will never be an amazing skier, but I have found a ticket to consistent bliss. I like the whole process- from sticking skins onto my skis, hauling myself up a slope, sliding down into my first turn and inevitable face plant, all the way duck walking up little hills on the way back to the car. Skiing at resorts is great too- hopping on lifts, swooshing down to the bottom again, learning about moguls, powder, & groomers, how to hold my poles just so and weight my skis, bend my knee and curve into a free-heeled turn.
Someday I hope to be able to head out on extended backcountry tours on my skis, but for now I will settle for just learning to connect turns & have some fun.
Living up here in Tahoe with no actual house to call home, no stove to dry my boots by each night, and only a snug-top truck topper between me and the dumping snow or 10 degree night air is not ideal, but it is a whole lot better than camping. The other people I see living like me are dedicated and awesomely skilled skiers and boarders. Sometimes when I crawl out of my truck in my ski boots and head to the lifts I feel like a bit of a poser, but this quote from Doug Robinson gives me comfort: “to be a mountaineer is first to love the mountains, then to climb them.” I love skiing & snow, I just am an awkward lover at the moment.
Lucky for me, my ski bummin also includes some quality couch surfing time! Friends have opened their couches and floor space to me and I have been able to come in out of the cold for showers, hot meals, and evenings of boot drying and movie watching. The nights I spend couch surfing sure beat eating a bag of chips and checking my email from under two sleeping bags and a comforter in the back of my truck parked in a motel parking lot. Next winter I might fork over some money and rent a place, but for now I am off to find a good spot to park the truck for the night and figure out where I will ski tomorrow!