If you’ve been around, you’re likely well aware of my recent winter transformation. Last year, I needed an attitude adjustment. I was sick and tired of hating winter. I started leaning into it instead.
It worked. Now, I’m totally on board. Literally; the main reason I truly enjoy this cold and snowy season is because I jumped into snowboarding. Chad and I decided to buy 10-day passes to our local resort as a trial run, as opposed to the much more expensive unlimited season pass; would 10 days of skiing be enough? Too much? Are we ready to fully commit to a full pass next year?
As we continue this journey, I want to recap and review my experiences and gauge where I’m at from start to finish. Welcome to my 10-day snowboard diary.
Here’s how the first day of 10 went for us.
Day one: 12/29/2020
Cheers for our first day back on the slopes!
We planned carefully (or so we thought): Chad decided to take the entire week off after Christmas, to have the chance to relax and recharge before jumping into the new year. Yes, we thought, a Tuesday at Sunlight (an already low-key and quiet local resort) will be ideal.
We were wrong, lol. It was packed and crowded and full of people. So much so that we had to park in a third lower lot, which was many steep staircases away from the lodge. My calves were sore on the way to the lifts—huffing, puffing, sweating.
Powder day for all
The crowds were there for a reason. It was post-Christmas, and families were everywhere. Plus, it was an extraordinary powder day. Flakes were falling and weren’t stopping. It was near-perfect conditions.
Starting was a little hard for us. Chad and I felt uncomfortable with all the people, and were slightly annoyed with the lengthy lift lines, and most so with the visitors who let their face coverings linger below their mouths. We understood that COVID protocols were likely making things more of a wait, but wished we’d timed things better.
We were most curious about how operations would look from a COVID perspective.
Sunlight requires face coverings on the base and on the lift. In the ski world, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a mask. Chad and I opted for neck gaiters, which also act as an extra layer of warmth.
Note: our neck gaiters are fuzzy, thick fabrics. This was kind of tough compared to a cotton, breathable mask. It wasn’t unbearable, but there was an adjustment period. I took breaks when we were on the trails. Next time, I might just use a mask instead.
I did use the restroom upon arrival, and it was pretty straight-forward. Limited capacity, face coverings required.
On the slopes
On the actual snowboarding side of things, it was pretty fun. It took me a little bit to warm up and get back into the motions, but it came back to me like riding a bike. I worked on wide turns and even weight distribution on my board, and successfully dismounted each lift (my biggest anxiety). My pants were feeling a little tight, so my mobility wasn’t at top form. Lol.
I fell twice, which I wasn’t expecting. Once, I simply lost focus when I rolled up to Chad. He said, “Hi!” and I totally forgot what I was doing and landed on my butt. We laughed, and it was a little break in the snow. The second time, I was going pretty fast and caught a ridge in the powder, and ate it. It didn’t hurt, but it was mildly embarrassing as I struggled to get up.
We didn’t take very many photos, mainly because the snow was cold and wet and taking off our gloves felt like a bit of a hassle. We also wanted to keep common areas as clear as possible, and kept ourselves moving.
At the beginning of the day, we stuck mainly to the small lift, Tercero, because many other of our favorite trails weren’t open yet. This is often a crowded spot, because all of the ski school and families tend to stick to this area, at least initially. We did a few practice rides to get back into the swing of things.
After a while, when the crowds started dispersing for lunch time, we decided to make our way to the very top, riding first Tercero, then the Primo lift. This leads to my favorite trails, though the lift itself is a bit on the janky side—small, tight, and like the others, no bar that goes down to keep you inside. Sunlight is small-town. There are no gondolas here.
We ended up doing two super fun rides from top to bottom, which were filled with deep powder and slow-moving catwalks. I got stuck a few times, and Chad bailed me out with his super-handy ski poles. (Thanks, honey!) There were a few times I had to skate myself out of the snow, because I couldn’t carry my momentum forward. I was working hard, and my calves were killing me.
But that powder, though. Worth it.
I felt done for the day when a throbbing pain in my calf and quad bubbled to the surface. My body spoke, I listened. Chad felt the same, and was okay with pressing pause for a little while to recover.
Though he offered to walk down to the car for us both, I decided to join him on the longest walk of our lives. If we thought the walk up was bad, down was torturous in comparison. We felt tired, hungry, and sore.
Overall, we had a good time. It wasn’t the most fun we’ve ever had, but it felt great to be out there again. At the car, we shed our layers quickly and headed into Glenwood Springs to pick up some burritos to go, and marveled at how there were cars lined up on the road, for at least a mile, because all of the lots were full.
Prepping for day two
If there was anything we took away from our first trip to the mountain, it’s that we were out of shape. We vowed that we would use our time wisely before our next Sunlight visit, to ensure that we could get more out of it.
For me, that has included a boost of daily cardio and flexibility. I want to increase my stamina and work specifically on my leg strength, to make sure that I can handle what feels like endless wall-sits down a mountain.
Every day I’ve gone for a walk, and have done an hour workout at home. I’m really proud of myself for sticking to it and working hard, and am hopeful that next time it won’t be quite as difficult to get up from the ground on my board. I have high hopes!
See you soon, Sunlight!