With prompting by Steve (of the Ferguson's) we decided to take today and head up to Crystal Mountain to learn how to snowboard. When we got up the sky was clear and the air was calm. We couldn't ask for a better day to indoctrinate ourselves into hitting the slopes on a snowboard. We woke up about work time early and I got all suited up. Our wives joined us to hang out for some relaxation time in the resort's lodge and were great company. After a drive with the sun in our eyes nearly the entire way, the ladies staked out their spot for the day and Steve and I signed up for lessons and rented our gear.
We took a 2-hour session wherein Neil taught us the basics of turning and balancing on the head-edge of our board first. The lesson group we were in was pretty small and ranged in age from a couple young Boy Scouts up to Steve, myself, and another older guy. Sooner than we knew it we were in line to head up the "Discover" lift. My only apprehension came from getting off the lift since my last experience a few years ago up at Snoqualmie wasn't the best. I think I bit it every time getting off the lift there and hurt myself one of those times. Neil showed us the best ways to get on and off. I bit it a bit the first time but had less trouble subsequent runs and pretty much figured it out by the end of the day. I could confidently slide off the lift with one foot loosely on my board without falling at all. Big step up, if I do say so myself.
After our lessons we joined the ladies and had some lunch to power ourselves up for the afternoon. Once done there we set a goal to do two more runs and three if we felt good. So that's what we did. Pretty much every time we went up the lift we were joined by a stray kid. They were all cool and we made sure to be really nice and help them feel like they'd be OK. My runs down the hill got pretty smooth except for the occasional fall. I wouldn't have minded so much but this run was heavily used and was packed pretty hard. Every fall, no matter how gentle, hurt. I kept to one side of the lift which seemed slightly softer but it still didn't help much. I'm definitely good to go on my heal edge but got some nice transitions to the front edge down. My swath is pretty wide on the toe edge so I still need to work on the control there. I also probably didn't help that the slope we were going down was bowled into the center a bit which had me going faster and further on my toe edge. Steve did really well on the day and only got frustrated a couple times. I was fast enough our third time down that I headed back up for one last run. Unfortunately for me I was tired enough to mess up once and bit it pretty hard catching my heal edge and landing on my butt and right hand.
We did, however, make it out of there without any major injuries but with only the to-be-expected aches and pains that come with the territory. The drive back was good with a couple stops to snap photos at Skookum Falls, to get coffee and gas, and for a snack of milkshakes and sandwiches at Wally's in Buckley. Thanks to Steve for partnering up with me to help talk one another through our new experience. Our goal is to head up a couple more times this year to see what we think of it all. From there, who knows, maybe you'll see us both in Vancouver in 2010 -- OK, maybe not. ;)