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Monday, February 17, 2014

Ski Season 2013-14

Skiing Meadows on a powder day.

I was telling a friend the other day that I don't think about winter in the summer, and so that I'm probably more of a summer person. In the fall, I'm usually scrambling to enjoy some last hiking and biking outings, praying that the snow will hold off a little longer. And when the snow finally comes, I only reluctantly embrace it. 

Ski season begins late-November/early-December, and I have to force myself to get out at first, knowing that I need it for my mental and physical health. But a few weeks in, a transformation takes place, and I get into the winter/skiing zone. 

For three years now, most of our free time in winter -- usually at least part of both days, every weekend -- is spent at Snowbowl, our local ski hill. I have to admit that I love the place, and as with any love relationship, it's complicated: deep attachment and delight in 'the other', but also frustration and the constant need for the practice of acceptance. Acceptance is hard for some: complaining about Snowbowl is a favorite pastime of many-a-Missoula skier/boarder. 

Myself, I try to focus on the positives of the place, which are many. The friend I mentioned above visited Missoula last week. We skied two days and had great snow. She said Snowbowl was now one of her favorite ski hills anywhere; when the place is on, it's truly a wonderful place for the skilled skier/boarder. I feel blessed to have it so close. 

The kids, ski season 2013-14.

Because skiing has always been a family affair, the changes within our family are reflected on the hill. This year, Alex has been choosing to stay home a lot, while the rest of us ski. He's old enough, now, that we don't force him to go. In part, I think, it's because he has a serious girl friend down in town. But he has also refused to take his mind off of biking this year and get into the ski mindset. He anxiously awaits Spring and regular biking again.

Ellie, on the other hand, is skiing more than ever; her goal is 40 days this year. Her best friend, Allie, is an obsessed skier, and they are at the hill both days every weekend. On the other hand, Ellie doesn't want us to ski with her, so I only get to see her from the ski lift, or in the lodge at the end of the day. She also swaps sleepovers with Allie on Friday and Saturday night, so if anything, I see her less than normal.

Ellie and Allie, with Allie bro Devon and dad Tad, with Alex and I looking on.
So, a lot of the time, it's just Jen and I, or I'm by myself, which is nice but also bittersweet. The kids are moving away from us, which is hard for me to watch. Nonetheless, I'm one to let it happen, while Jen, if anything, is more engaged than ever, which I'm also thankful for. Anyway, because I'm alone more at the hill, I've been exploring new parts of the mountain. This year its TV Mountain, my new out of bounds playground. I'm loving the new discoveries, but the changes are hard to accept. 
At the start of the hike up TV Mountain.

Jen and Alex win swag at the first ever Snowbowl slopestyle competition.
Skier chick I.

Skier chick II.
Ellie, Meadows powder.