Skiing Heavenly is Pretty Much, Heavenly!

Where do Colorado skiers and boarders go on spring vacation? To ski and ride Heavenly Ski Resort at Lake Tahoe of course. We soon found out why it was aptly named, Heavenly. We found it most heavenly. Come along on my surreal photo journey.

Heavenly ride to the top

Situated in South Lake Tahoe on the Nevada and California border there were surprising differences. The Nevada side looked out over the mountain range and remained sheltered during snowstorms. The California side was, well, you’ll see!

The Nevada side of Heavenly Ski Resort

Heavenly snow totals piled up during the week!

Skiing, snowboarding, Heavenly, Lake Tahoe

Snow clung to trees like hoar frost, making the snowy heaven complete.

Top of Heavenly

With Lake Tahoe in the backdrop on the California side, we enjoyed the incredibly beautiful landscape.

Heavenly view of Lake Tahoe

With nary a liftline, we skied most of the mountain.

A heavenly view from the top

We skied hard and played harder!

heavenly moments

When we finally stopped for lunch, we spent time pondering deep thoughts while enjoying the outdoors.

Deep thoughts

We took breaks when needed….

taking a breather at heavenly

And then skied the catwalk back home.

Check out the video! The view of Lake Tahoe is surreal.

Heavenly Ski Resort is Heavenly Family Vacation in Lake Tahoe

 

Have you gone on a wintry vacation? Do you prefer the beach? What’s on your bucket list?

Click for more adventure on the Wild Ride.

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10 Reasons Why a Challenge is Worth the Whiplash

Night Skiing at Keystone!

10 Reasons Why a Challenge is Worth the Whiplash

As we get into our comfort zone of routine, we challenge ourselves less and less.

I took on a challenge last weekend and learned why facing fear and abject humiliation is important for personal growth. I still have a lot of growing up to do. Ask anyone!

I’ve been a skier since the seventh grade. It took years to master the intermediate runs and even more time on the slopes to tackle the expert black diamonds, and moguls, let alone the double blacks. I’ve been heli-skiing where the guide led me right into the trees of Canada while I prayed Hail Marys. I got the hang of it and my skiing skills greatly improved. Now I can ski just about any part of a mountain.

I skied this bowl right after I was released into the wild after double boobectomies.

Double black diamond sign at Breckenridge

Here’s the thing. You can slap on a pair of skis and make it down the hill pretty easily in “pizza position,” toes pointed toward each other like a plow. But it takes tons of practice to “carve up” the harder, steeper, faster runs. It’s a bell curve created over years and years.

Learning to snowboard is the polar opposite of skiing.

The beginning of the learning curve for snowboarding is a freakin’ headwall. It’s super hard at first and painful, but after a week or so, most snowboarders are linking turns down most of the mountain. They make it look so easy!

Years ago, I left my skis at home and snowboarded. I fell so hard and so often, I bruised my tailbone and couldn’t sit down for a week. Ouch.

A few weeks later, I decided to try again and prepared for pratfalls. I wore every pair of snow pants in the house along with children’s mittens with thumb and wrist guards. Overdressed and sweating, I could hardly move. I hoped a lesson would give me the confidence to “shred.”

While the rest of the class focused on their boards, I stood on my toe edge and looked up the mountain. After a few feet of sliding sideways, I fell backward so fast I didn’t know what happened! I smacked my head into the snow and saw stars for the first time in my life. It was a slight concussion. I toughed it out and got through the rest of the day. My butt survived, but I ended up with a nasty case of whiplash.

Flash forward fifteen years to the next challenge.

It’s been the worst ski season ever for Summit County in Colorado, at least in my memory. Days have been too warm and the snow too lean. When the weatherman predicted 50-degree temperatures on Saturday, my daughter, Courtney, suggested we all switch equipment. She’s a snowboarder and rented skis. My husband, Danny, Courtney’s boyfriend, Dan, and I all geared up for snowboarding.

I have to admit, I was pretty nervous. With a partial knee replacement only three years ago, I couldn’t rely on falling forward uphill, which is so much easier on my body. Luckily, Danny brought up some sturdy knee pads and I wore elastic braces. This time, I didn’t worry about my rear end and wore regular ski clothes. It was hot outside.

While pulling on my boots, I strained my thumb. No lie! I was in denial since it was such a stupid injury. I hoped it wasn’t foreshadowing of injuries to come.

When we arrived at the mountain, I stood and stared at the toddlers on the super small bunny slope. I wondered if adults could join them. Then I noticed a longer 1% grade hill with a moving sidewalk. YES!

After walking up the small slope, I strapped on my board, scooched myself forward to slide and fell backward! I smacked the ground and heard my neck snap. Dang! Not a good start. I knew endorphins would kick in and I wouldn’t feel anything until tomorrow. There was no way I’d give up that easily.

I used special effects so it looks like I’m moving faster than 10 yards per hour.

 

10 Reasons why facing any challenge is worth the whiplash

I thought I would remember how to snowboard, but too much time had passed.

My daughter and her boyfriend watched while Danny and I took super slow turns on the 1% incline with others, age four to adult. Ha! I was cool with that.

Courtney warned me not to take the Poma lift. “It’s easier to take the chairlift.” I looked up the slope at the throngs of people skiing and riding down the mountain. I’d kill someone.

Instead, I hiked up the baby slope and rode down a few times. Then I graduated to another area for rank beginners with a 3% grade. My driveway is steeper.

Slowly but surely I got the rhythm of heel edge (falling leaf) and toe-edge. Every time I tried to link them, I face-planted. Exhausted from hiking up the hill, I tried the Poma lift. When I was almost at the top, my boot slipped from the board and I wiped out. I dragged myself out of the way. I rode my board down and tried the lift again.

With only one successful trip to the top out of six attempts, I tried again. As I approached the end of the lift, I thought I had made it! Just as I moved to release the lift, I fell hard. My elbow struck the ground and my head hit my shoulder as if someone struck me with a baseball bat. How is that even possible????

I avoided the Poma lift the rest of the day and didn’t fall. During my last two runs, I linked turns from heel-edge to toe! YES. The feeling of victory!

A successful day of challenges

That night, I woke up and couldn’t lift my head off the pillow. My neck and shoulders had seized up. As my muscles warmed up the next morning, I was able to see my toes. The pain wasn’t too bad.

Why put myself through this?

Because challenges are good for us!

It’s what we ALL did as kids. We were introduced to new activities all the time. As we age, we settle into routines and seldom try anything new. That’s a mistake.

10 reasons why you should challenge yourself:

  • Challenges provide choices. When you make the choice to keep trying instead of bailing out, it’s good practice for life in general.
  • You’re capable of a lot more than you think.
  • Every challenge builds character and confidence. This is true! I’m a real character.
  • Being out of your comfort zone presents new problems to solve. In my case, I had to learn that the lift was harder than snowboarding.
  • Taking a risk by trying something new carries over to everything else in life. I risked several limbs and a noggin and lived to tell the tale. Working out in the gym is cake compared to this.
  • Pride is won through achievement. Life is good at putting us in our place. A little bit of pride won’t hurt you.
  • Saying yes to new activities or anything else that may be uncomfortable will broaden your horizons and can make you feel proud. That’s a very good thing!
  • No pain, no gain. In this case, the pain was REAL!
  • Even if you fall short of your expectations or fail, at least you tried.
  • The more you get out of your comfort zone, the less you have to be afraid of, especially if you survive.

Bored and uninspired? Challenge yourself and move forward!I double dog dare you to make a list of all your fears. 

Now I triple dog dare you to face them.

Imagine if we faced all of our fears. Since I haven’t spoken in front of a huge crowd, public speaking remains one of my biggest. Someday, I’ll face that one head on, literally. It will be terrifying, just like edging downhill with a board strapped to my feet.

Will I snowboard ever again?

I’m traveling to Lake Tahoe to ski for a week. I hope to take a snowboarding lesson. My main goal? To take the chairlift without killing myself or anyone else. I won’t have to hike up the mountain while carrying my board.  I’ll be on my way. Three more times this season and I’ll be on the leeward side of that bell curve!

Do you avoid challenges or embrace them? Do you see a steady decline in trying new things? How could you get out of your comfort zone?

Click here for more inspirational misadventure on the Wild Ride.

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Night Skiing at Keystone!

My great plan a few weeks ago:

I thought it would be fun to go out for brunch with the family, ski a couple of runs before Breckenridge closed for the day, and then relax at night. A complete shutdown at Breck and skiing Keystone didn’t come close to niggling my wild imagination.

The day started out sunny and warm with a light breeze. After waiting an hour for a table, we enjoyed a leisurely meal and then headed for the gondola. As we were about to board, it ground to a halt. We were forced into waiting mode again. What now?

The lift operators talked amongst themselves. Then one of them turned to face the growing crowd. “The mountain has closed due to high winds!”

I looked at her with raised eyebrows. Dang! It was too late to drive to another mountain. All kinds of woulda- coulda-shouldas came to mind.

Then I remembered Keystone is open until 8:00 PM for night skiing!

I hadn’t skied at night for a long time but recalled the excitement of it. While looming shadows swallowed the landscape, the crisp air and contrast of dark and light made an otherwise easy slope, a decent challenge.

It came as no surprise that so many lined up at the base. Some of them must have driven over in the afternoon when Breckenridge closed. I took this photo around 5:00 PM. It looks like the middle of the night!

Night skiing in Colorado

I’ve always enjoyed the lighting while night skiing. Sometimes it’s easier to see the shadows pop from the snow.

Chairlift at night

It’s important to see where you’re going!

That said, after an almost blind run while wearing goggles, I took them off. The lenses were too dark. Then the wind howled and my sight blurred.

Night snowboarding

It didn’t take long until my eyes adjusted, but my camera didn’t. Ha!

Night skiing at Keystone

Even in the chilly wind, we found time to relax with my son, Kelly, and his girlfriend, Leksy…

Kelly and Leksy

And to take the obligatory selfie!

Susie and Danny night skiing

We had a blast!

It’s always fun to try something different when plans change. It forces you to step out of your routine and experience something new. It became a very memorable day!

How do you handle change? Are you up for experiencing something new? Have you ever skied at night?

Click for more adventure on the Wild Ride!

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How to Be a Gaper – A Photo Essay

Gaper Day is a tradition at ski resorts. Even if they don’t have a party, the last day of the season brings out the gaper in most skiers and snowboarders. We drove to Vail for their closing day. They had their spring splash the weekend before, but it didn’t dampen the party atmosphere.

What’s a Gaper?

How to be a GaperThis term generally describes someone whose helmet slips back on their head creating the dreaded gap between their noggin protector and their goggles, revealing loads of forehead. This usually accompanies first time skier attire: Jeans, firefighter, camouflage or blaze orange deer hunting jackets… You get my drift.

On the last day of the season this is expanded to skier attire circa 1970-80’s or full on crazy costumes.

We went all out this year. Continue reading

Join The #Blessed Project!

It’s been a Wild month and the holidays are upon us. How did that happen? It can be hard to switch gears from stressed-out to happy guest or entertainer. Compounded by worry and lack of sleep, our usual energy may be zapped. We may feel far from blessed.

I have a solution for you! Sometime between now and December 17th take a break and make a blessed project list. This will remind you of what makes you happy. We can only think about one thing at a time, so this project should hip-check negative thoughts out of your cranium for a while. Endorphins will fill the space. Can you feel it?

Your post can be as long or short as you like. It’s your #Blessed Project.

Time is a commodity and I don’t want to add to your stress level. If you get into it, take as much time as you want. Include photos, videos, artwork. Or keep it simple and only write a list. You can easily jot down the first few things that come to mind. Done.

There is no right or wrong.

Ask your family why they feel blessed. It could be a sparkly distraction if things get tense over Thanksgiving break. Remember, we can only focus one thing at a time.

  1. Write a #Blessed Project article and post it on your blog.
  2. Include a link to this post. Spread the positivity!
  3. Paste your link in the comment section below by Saturday, December 17th.
  4. Stop back anytime to read other posts. You know the drill. Tell them “Susie sent me from the Blessed Project,” and they should click back to your place.

BONUS! On December 19th, I’ll blog the list of #Blessed Projects pasted in the comments, to reach out to more readers.

Don’t have a blog? Write one and post it on Facebook. Reading them is just as heartwarming as the exercise.

Here’s the start of my list. I’m sure it will grow with updates throughout the season.

I felt blessed to ski in Breckenridge with family and friends on opening weekend.

skiing Breckenridge on opening weekend with friends and family

I’m blessed to live in Colorado and

breckenridge-10-mile-range

to have found a physical therapist, so I can do this:

There’s nothing like Thanksgiving! #Blessed

I am blessed to be surrounded by friends and family and dogs!

I am blessed for having a partner in adventure

fullsizerender-31

and for having a sense of humor, which really came in handy this month.

img_8357

To walk on moonlit nights. #Blessed

FullSizeRender (32).jpg

And I am blessed for all of you!

Think about your own blessings. Make a list, post it and then leave your url in the comments. I’d love to link you up in another post on December 19th.

Need more ideas? There are some great examples in the comments section. They’re rolling in!

 

Here’s a new opportunity to participate in 2017! 

An Unexpected Visit from Wild and Wonderful Old Man Winter

An Unexpected Visit from Wild and Wonderful Old Man Winter

We drove up to Breckenridge last weekend, expecting wonderful weather and golden-hued fall color. I couldn’t believe it when the snow began to fly as we approached the Eisenhower Tunnel. I had wondered when Old Man Winter would pay us a visit, but I figured he might wait until the middle of October.

Only a day after the official start of autumn, he surprised us.

fullsizerender-24

I have been predicting an early winter. I’m gifted and talented in that way. There’s a slant to the light and the birds have been flocking together for weeks now. The perennials died back early, I’ve never seen so many owls hunt during the day, and the squirrels have been in hyper-drive. What does that have to do with an early winter? I have no idea. I’m not even an amateur meteorologist. Someone told me pinecones packed high on the tops of trees indicate a cold, snowy winter. YES! Must be a Farmer’s Almanac thing. Why would trees do that? Maybe if there is a megaton of snow, the pinecones won’t get buried and rot in the spring melt. Who knows? I’m ready for snow.

Wonder why I’m excited? This photo says it all…

fullsizerender-23

Yep. Those are ski runs in the hills out yonder.

It melted today (moan), but I think the Old Man is lurking. I bet there will be more surprises on the horizon. Winter will arrive early this year.

Are you ready for winter? Has the Old Man surprised your neighborhood yet?

Click for more Wild Colorado Adventures!

A “Tail” of a Whale Adventure in Three Acts

ACT I

Last Friday, a monstrous spring snowstorm promised downed powerlines and trashed landscaping in Colorado. My husband, Danny, and I shrugged and headed up to the mountains. We looked forward to tremendous ski conditions and assumed we would share the highway with many others. Forecasters predicted snow in feet.

Funny thing. As we merged onto I-70 in Golden, our daughter, Courtney, called on her way home from work. She had to pack and pick up a friend before driving up to meet us in Breckenridge.

As expected, we got stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic. One mere mile outside of Georgetown, we came to a dead halt. CDOT had closed the highway hours earlier because of “hazardous driving conditions,” but we had ignored all the warning signs.

I-70 in snowstorm

Then Courtney called. She had just started on I-70. I suggested taking the frontage road to Georgetown instead of the crowded highway.

An hour later, we started to inch forward. As we passed Georgetown, Danny said, “I think we just passed Courtney’s car.

They ended up right behind us. No lie.

ACT II

It’s been over a year since my partial knee replacement. Before going under the crazy laser scalpel, that is Makoplasty, to replace messed up bone and cartilage, I could only ski two, maybe three runs before calling it a day. Since surgery, I’ve been careful.

Peak 7

 

The dump of snow proved to be heavenly for skiers and snowboarders. Saturday, I sailed through fifteen inches of ice cream snow in Breckenridge and took NINE runs. Courtney and I quit before exhaustion caused a crash and burn scenario. She had a business trip in Utah the next day.

snowboarder Courtney Lindau at Peak 7

On our way down the gondola, we met three people in the medical field from California. They all looked twenty-five because California. One was an orthopedic surgeon. Whoa! I asked him about my squeaking, squawking knee after replacement. He said that was normal for some people. YAY! Then he added the technology was so new, they don’t know how much time we have before wearing it out. Bummer. I did point out that I was pretty small and wouldn’t stress out my joints as much as a linebacker.

That boosted my confidence. It concurred with some on my online research for mule-kicking, hee-hawing knees. I tuned out the part about not knowing how much time I have on these manufactured parts.

Forecasters predicted more snow, so I planned to ski again on Sunday.

ACT III

Sunday night seven more inches dropped. A little stiff and sore from the day before, I headed out with the intention to ski a couple of runs and quit early. My son, Kelly, and I, took three chairlifts to meet his girlfriend and Danny on the top of Imperial. As we ascended into a cloud and white-out conditions, I assumed we would ski down the face.

Nope.

Danny led us to Whale’s Tail.

Whale's Tail

My favorite bowl, in the shape of its name, had just opened for the first time that weekend. Danny said it would be filled with feet of deep powder, meaning sweet, easy skiing for me.

I followed my group by sidestepping up the mountain to the steep catwalk. Yes. This was farther into the deceptive angelic clouds masking a sheer head wall on the edge of the bowl forming the tail fin.

Then it hit me.

They hadn’t skied it.

We had no idea what conditions existed. I wasn’t sure if my knee could handle heavy, deep snow.

It had been painful to ski Whale’s Tail before surgery and I hadn’t skied it since. My shoulders tightened as we hugged the mountain. Then we skied down to the edge.

I would be dropping into my favorite run from a cornice, but we were still in thick clouds and it snowed hard. We had very low visibility. I wouldn’t be able to see where I was going.

I wanted to ski down to the middle of the tail and drop into my usual spot. Everyone else wanted to drop in from the tip of the fin. I lost.

looking down whales tail

Whale’s Tail on a clear day.

I had always had skied this after several warm up runs.

This was my first run of the day.

I stood on the edge of the mountain and looked down. As everyone dropped in, they disappeared into the cloud.

FullSizeRender (7)

In the cloud.

I freaked.

Then I had a flashback to my heli-ski trip. After being dropped off on a mountaintop by helicopter the first time, I followed the group and carved fresh tracks alongside the rest. Sounds wonderful, right? My new boots dug into my calves. The skis they provided seemed way too long for me. They chattered while I carved turns in the wet, deep snow. It put tremendous stress on my knees. I didn’t know how to up-weight through the turns and fought through every one of them. I lagged behind and then watched in horror as our guide headed into the trees. I had never been a tree skier. I couldn’t control my crazy equipment.

Hail Mary’s became my mantra.

I made it through the trip and learned a lot about skiing and myself. Sometimes I had to dig deep.

This time, I took a deep breath and dropped in.

My pole sunk into the soft fin, never reaching bottom, unbalancing and thrashing me about. Unsupported and unsure, I kept my weight over my skis instead of my more aggressive stance on a steep incline.

When I turned to the left, I said, “This is your good knee.” When I turned to the right, I said, “Right turns have always been your strongest.” I said this every time, back and forth and back and forth until I reached the bottom.

As I caught my breath, I looked back up the mountain. It had cleared and the word was out. Tons of skiers learned there were fresh tracks to be made on Whale’s Tail.

skiers and boarders on Whale's Tail Breckenridge

Those dots are people along the ridge to give you scale. Scale on the fin of Whale’s Tail. Ha!

 

They hooted and hollered as they made their way down the fresh snow. Some tumbled. Others face-planted, but they all had fun in the deep snow.

My knee felt strained as if I had taken twenty runs already. Pain from tendons and muscles made me wonder if I would make it down the rest of the mountain. I wasn’t even halfway.

Danny caught up with me.

Danny skiing Whale's Tail

I was furious. “I can’t believe you took me down this. It was my first run.”

“You did great!” he said and then reminded me of rule #1: “A skier never trusts their friends. Not when there’s fresh powder.”

As I iced my knee at Vista Lodge, I swore I would never ski anything that difficult again. The orthopod’s warning rushed back and I felt like I was on borrowed time. I had to face facts.

More snow dumped in Breckenridge as we drove back to Boulder. I woke up and expected to be gimped out and limping, but my muscles only felt the usual strain after exercise. We only lost one branch in the wet snow over the weekend.

Both the trees and I survived.

If we had skied another day, would I have played it safe? Would I stick to easy runs? Keep my knee functioning as long as possible?

Nah. I’m going to wear a full-on knee brace next time.

I am kind of a Wild Child.

Do you take chances to live your life? Has fear gotten the best of you? What is holding you back?