We spent the last few days of winter doing the finest thing one could possibly do in winter--skiing, at one of the finest places to ski, Squaw Valley. We left wednesday after school and stayed at a lodge which is in the Squaw village and walking distance to everything. No, they aren't on spring break now. Yes, we took Erin out of school for two days in order to ski and I have a clear conscience.
The girls were signed up for ski school for both thursday and friday, which turned out to be a grand decision. There was NO ONE up there skiing those days. The ski classes, normally designed for 5 students per instructor, were nowhere near filled. Erin spent the first morning with just one other little girl in her group and in the afternoon she had the teacher all to herself. On friday Erin was with two others, the twins had their instructor all to themselves all day.
Allison was happy to see Erin back at the ski school after their lessons:
John and I had a great time skiing all over the mountain, mainly up at the top and on the backside--terrain we wouldn't be able to do with the girls on saturday, when we planned to be together. It was very sunny and fairly warm our first two ski days and the snow conditions were overall very good. I was having a blast. John asked frequently, "Where to next?" and I'd find someplace that looked fun to me. John's responses:
"Are you crazy?"
"You mean, on purpose?"
"Have you lost your mind?"
But he usually went along with the "delightfully challenging and furthermore, exhilarating" slopes I chose at least once. When I came back a second or third or fourth time he usually opted to take a different route and meet me at the back at the chair lift. Friday morning I saw a place in the village selling ski helmets for 50% off. I've never used a helmet in my 30+ years of skiing but I decided that it was probably time. John thought that was a good idea, "Then I won't have to worry so much when you go off on those ridiculous slopes."
I've never heard of anything so silly. There are NO ridiculous slopes.
After picking the girls up on thursday afternoon we all rode the cable car up to High Camp, a stopping point a little higher than about mid-mountain. Up there we looked around and got some pictures and went inside for hot chocolate:
spectacular views up there:
By friday afternoon John and I were talking about how we'd work the logistics of the 5 of us going up chair lifts together the next day...something we've never done before. Most of the beginner slopes have a lift that seats only 2, which would not work for us. Erin is too young to be trusted in a chair on her own. There is one beginner chair which seats 3 and it's a nice long run so we figured this is where we'd need to come. Towards the end of the day we headed over there to ride that lift and then ski the terrain under it to check it out.
In Oregon the ski school instructors told us that the twins were ready to start riding the lifts and doing the regular beginner terrain (as opposed to the nearly flat bunny hills right outside the ski school). But they weren't taken on a lift on thursday and we assumed because they had a new instructor for friday that they wouldn't go up that day either.
When we got to the top of the beginner chair I saw a woman get off the chair with two little kids, one in dark pink, one in light pink...hey...that's Kate and Allison! They were coming over toward us and then Kate recognized John, "DADDY!" The instructor said they had been skiing there all afternoon. "They're doing great!" she reported. So I took some photos and we skied most of the way down that run near them and they both looked so, so good and happy.
The next morning we took all the girls up to that same lift and we all skied together for the first time.
The twins did fine, Erin was a bit over-confident at her being back on a green=beginner slope after skiing most of the past two days on blue=intermediate. She and Kate seemed to have adopted the same general skiing philosophy: "turning is for suckas".
Clearly, if one wants to ski down, the most direct way to do that is to just go down. John was with Allison trying to show the her a good path to follow at a speed he thought she could match safely and was separated from the 3 of us when both Kate and Erin went BOMBING down the hill. I was just stunned to see Erin ski that way. I've never seen her ski so quickly or so aggressively. I took off after them and saw Erin slow down pretty well but then fall and lose a ski, so I headed for Kate and yelled at her from behind, "KATE! TURN! KATE! TURN!" and she did, slowing herself down and stopping safely and with a look on her face like, "what's the problem, old lady?"
Puh-lease. If they wanna see fast, I could show them some FAST skiing, but I'd like them both to be considerably better before we try a contest like that.
I got Erin's ski back on and lectured them both about staying with me and needing to control their speed with turning, reminding them that I don't just go flying down the hills either (when they are there to see me). During the next many runs they did better in that regard and I even took the two of them on a nearby intermediate slope to see how Kate would fare (she's much more confident that Allison at this point, but the blue run proved to me too much for her).
Here's John and his three little ski ducks following behind him:
In the afternoon I took Erin on some really challenging intermediate slopes and she did absolutely great there too. It's amazing to see the girls' progress this ski season. Erin tried one intermediate run last year, I think. She did a couple of them in Oregon last month but she was really anxious about them and exhausted afterwards. Today she skied them happily and confidently over and over and did just so well overall. And the twins started this year skiing for the first time ever, and have definitely progressed to the point where they belong on the chair lifts. I didn't think the 5 of us would have a chance to ski together until at least next year. What a great way to end this ski season. I can't wait to see what next season has in store.