Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Spring break:
Slopes were steep, springs were hot

We're back from Sophie's spring break Sierra ski tour. Although we've been suffering enjoying almost summer-like weather in the bay area, we knew there was still snow in California. It was our mission to go in search of it. We loaded up our van with all the skis in our house and tons of food and set out last Wednesday morning.



First stop on the way down to Mammoth was Kirkwood, where there was big news. I kicked the butt of a run that seriously kicked my butt two years ago. That's right: I SKIED DOWN THE WALL. Twice, just to make sure it wasn't a fluke.

The Wall is ridiculously steep at the top (hence the name), and what is unusual is that there is only one way down from the lift that services it. Once you're on the lift, you are committed.

And hence, the sign, which two years ago I did not take seriously enough. It was not a good day on the top of The Wall, with humongous chunky mogels and way too many people. I totally lost my nerve and side-slipped down off the top at the least threatening spot, which was unfortunately right under the chair lift. Total humiliation and defeat.

But this year, it was mowed almost all the way up (amazing what they can do with a groomer at Kirkwood), and it was only the first turn off the very top that was hairy. Once past that, it was just ordinary steep stuff. I did it once. I did it twice. That was enough. I had three days at Mammoth ahead of me to think about.


This was my first trip to Mammoth as a person who knows how to ski, and all I can say is WOW. Actually I can say more than that, but still: WOW. What a mountain. It is like four Squaws put together!

Driving from Kirkwood at the end of the day to Mammoth was an easier drive than driving back home, and of course it was a much more beautiful one.

The eastern Sierras are amazing, and every time we visit I wonder why we don't spend more time there. Maybe the six hour drive?

Anywhoo, we had three great days of skiing, excepting the afternoon of the first day when wind shut down even most of the lower mountain. People at Mammoth take their wind very seriously. The gondola up to the top was down in the morning, but there was an hour or so window in the middle of the day, and we jumped right on to ride up and grab a few runs before it shut down again.

That night our friend Matt drove down to join us, and we did it again. And again. And again.

You can't tell because Sophie and I have our faces covered (it was pretty cold most of the time and especially at the summit), but we're smiling as much as Matt.

I was seriously pooped at the end of the last day as fatigue set in from chasing Husband and the Pink Rocket all over the mountain. I sort of miss the days when we would put Sophie in ski school in the morning, ski our asses off, and then pick her up and cruise in the afternoon with her. These days she is right on Husband's tail the entire time, and I feel like we hammer the entire day.


One thing we love in the eastern Sierras are the nearby wild hot springs.

After skiing, the ones in the Owens Valley were a quick drive away.

This one was nice but not hot enough. The next one we tried was a perfect temperature but too exposed to the howling wind and filled with naked hippies. You should appreciate I am not including pictures.


We three finally found one that was just right.

Crowley's had a nice boardwalk out to it, was out of the wind, a good temperature (could have been a little hotter), and large enough to accommodate the three of us and a few twenty-somethings on their spring break from culinary school.

We came back here a couple days later with our friend Matt.


We stopped at Travertine Hot Springs on our way home. Husband and Matt had been here before, but every time I've been in the area it's been too hot to consider soaking in hot water in the direct sun. On a winter afternoon though it was perfect.

Coming up soon: How Sophie won a $20 bet with her dad, a really great ski sandwich, and truly amazing barbecue in Walker.

Now that I'm sort of caught up here, it's time to get caught up on a little blog reading. Anyone have a baby while I was gone???


Purple Flowers said...

Welcome Back! Glad you and family had a blast!

Cid said...

I know what you mean about going back to a mountain as a skier. I finally got to do just that! What a difference time, experience and new skis make.

Midge said...

The hot springs look like a perfect stop after skiing like mad!

Sabina said...

i noticed that big S is now appointed with a helmet. excellent move. love the hot springs how relaxing that must of been. sasha would like to know what sophie won a bet over, please do tell.

Belle said...

What an amazing trip! Great job on "the wall"!


Broady said...

Looks like another awesome trip for the Figs. Where did you stay? Always looking for reccommendations!

Looking forward to reading about the latest ski sandwich success.

Elliott said...

Woman, you are my skiing hero. That is all. *salute*