Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Bruised Back, Sore Leg

Ski vacations aren't really about relaxing. Sure, every hotel has a hot tub, every bar is busy, and the hotels make sure the beds are comfortable, but I could get all those things down the road if I wanted.

Ski vacations are about pain and exhaustion.

Five days on the west coast, 3 days skiing. Probably 3 more recovering now. I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

My brother's finishing up his season working at Whistler, and I promised him I'd come visit. It took a while, but I managed to make it out with one buddy last weekend. Our flight arrived half an hour early, the drive up was easy as we just dodged Vancouver rush hour traffic, and check-in was a breeze. We met up with my brother for a drink and some grub while we planned out the next day.

The next day we picked up our rentals (I hate lugging my own equipment on planes, especially as they keep changing the rules), and hit the slopes. Having never been up Whistler/Blackcomb before, E and I took it easy on our first day. We got a few runs in, felt the burn, and called it a day early.

Day 2 was longer and more painful, but this time the pain felt even better. With my brother guiding us to various runs, we had more of a plan this time around, and took in some truly stunning vistas on our way to the middle of the mountain. The sun was bright in the sky, the air warm, and the snow still felt like snow beneath the skis. As we wound down, my face slowly became a permanent grimace as I pushed and prayed to make it down one. more. run. When we called it a day, the snow at the base had turned from sno-cone consistency to slushie. The weather was fantastic for everything but the snow.

Dinner, drinks, and a raging headache led to an early night in, where I promptly fell asleep upright on the couch as my brother hung out with us. A proper sleep in bed couldn't come quickly enough as my body let me know exactly where it was angry with me.

Not that it stopped me from getting up the next morning and repeating the process one last time. A couple aspirin with breakfast, and a later-than-usual start up the hill and we were good to go. 17C at the base, and breaking freezing at the top meant it would be hard work. The peak was fine, if a bit icy, but all mid-mountain needed was some blue raspberry flavour to make it delicious. Down the front of Blackcomb, around the side, over the glacier, and a helluva view on the peak-to-peak gondola before heading down. No grimace this time, as my muscles had long given up any hope of convincing me to stop. We made our way down as the lifts closed, one by one, and hit the quagmire that was the base. A shallow, slow, long path between the Whistler and Blackcomb bases exists to move from the upper village to the main. It was the hardest part of the trip. Clear slush spot all over the place spelled doom. If you couldn't keep your tips up, you were going over. Slush moguls are damned near impossible to navigate. Somehow I remained vertical as those around me fell. In fact, I fell but once - while standing perfectly still at the top of a ridge. My brother had taken to lobbing snowballs at me, and was missing with great regularity from about 1.5 feet away. I turned slightly to continue mocking him when I lost my balance and fell... with my left midback nailing the edge of his snowboard. There's a less-than-pleasant bruise there, but as far as mountainside injuries go, it's pretty minor.

A great trip, with a good friend (depsite the constant persecution I lay on him), my youngest bro, and plenty of work. Now I just need to turn this pain in my legs into motivation to keep at this exercise thing.


Oh, and happy birthday to everyone I missed in my absence. I know far too many people with late March/early April birthdays. Aren't parents supposed to have sex when the kids GO to school?

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