Dreaming of White

beach-1

In my book, Christmas should always be white. Not white sands but white snow. This year, however, the Hodson family decided to spend eight days in sunny Florida right before Christmas. A trip of a lifetime for the boys with a visit to every theme park and landmark that could be found. Blue skies, shorts, alligators and sand was exciting and new but as Christmas loomed closer, my heart started to empty of its love for 80 degree temps and flip flops and longed for the snow capped peaks of the Wasatch Mountain resorts.

Dazzling lights, fake Christmas trees, bells and wreaths, concerts and shows could not make up for the loss of December in Utah. As much as I had been thrilled about the change in scenery, I needed to get home. All of us needed to get home!

Seems a little whacky for Christmas.

Seems a little whacky for Christmas.

We were giddy, even after a long, LONG flight home as we stepped into the chill of pre-Christmas Eve with highly anticipated joy. The boys worried that Santa would not know we were home but he came, quietly and stealthily amidst the stars gleaming above the city, blanketed in white. The cold morning dawned as Noah and Isaac reveled in their loot and I yawned and enjoyed the peace of my own home. Hotel rooms and busy itineraries drifted into the past.

A Hodson Christmas!

A Hodson Christmas!

Legos captivated the boys and breakfast filled them but eventually they began to wonder why we were still lounging around the house? Didn’t we ski on Christmas? Wasn’t it tradition? Jet lagged and sleepy and feeling rather Scroogy, Matt and I finally decided that yes, we belonged on the slopes on Christmas Day.

The short drive up Big Cottonwood reminded us why Florida could never compare and we greeted Solitude Mountain Resort with enthusiasm. The late afternoon sun was already casting it’s shadowy light when we finally clicked into our bindings but ski Utah on Christmas Day we did. With not a second to spare, we high tailed it through the recently opened Powderhorn gate and made our way into Black Forest. Sun baked drifts gave way to shady patches of soft fluff and we turned effortlessly as we dropped into the silent valley of Honeycomb Canyon. Anyone who had been there had long since gone home and we relished in the quiet together as a family.

Isaac looks back at the looming peaks falling into shadows.

Isaac looks back at the looming peaks falling into shadows.

Beaches cannot compare on Christmas Day to the beauty of pines drooping with the weight of sparkling snow or craggy peaks glowing pink and purple with the effervescent glow of the setting sun. Winter in Utah is brilliant and spectacular and if you are even thinking of skipping over our magical playground for the magic of other places just wait until the snow melts because when you dream of winter, you should always dream in white.

Happy Holidays!

Finding Joy in Solitude

“If you’re lonely when you’re alone, you’re in bad company.”
― Jean-Paul Sartre

I am sure that there is a difference in being in solitude or being alone but sometimes finding the peace that comes with being all by yourself can be challenging. Let me make clear that I like to be alone…a lot, but, I do not like to ski alone. I feel unchallenged and bored and often times, give up before ever making it on the hill because I can’t find a sidekick.

I almost gave up on solitude this morning because twenty texts and many calls later, I was still flying solo. I understand that life gets in the way and the freedom of endless ski days is a distant memory packed away with my early twenties but c’mon folks, no one? Not one person to entertain myself with?

I thought about the things I could get done with nothing on my calendar and nowhere to be and almost threw in the towel but something stopped me. I was going up and I knew it. The lure of new(er) snow, crystal-clear skies and warmer temps (yes, when you get up above the inversion it is almost balmy), convinced me to wallow out of my self pity and up the canyon.

No one, I mean NO ONE is here!

No one, I mean NO ONE is here!

As the gray gave way to brilliant blue and the Wasatch Mountains rose around me in pristine and utter beauty, my hesitation turned to joy and I drank in the silence. No one to chatter with and ruin the peace of the moment and no kiddos fighting in the back seat cluttering my mind with their nonsense left me filling full of renewed energy and sense of self.

 

Bluebird Baby!

Bluebird Baby!

 

Solitude Mountain Resort in Utah is solitude. There are few resorts in Utah that allow you to experience complete silence and peace as you find your turns and lay over your boards. We all know that Solitude is the perfect name for our unspoiled Wasatch gem and so the story of silence and tranquility carries on and so does mine. A story of a perfect day filled with sunshine, soft snow, packed powder and no one to bother with my incessant yammering….well, until I finally marched into the ski patrol shack and broke my morning of solitude.

After all, while discovering my inner peace and clearing my mind was great and much needed, it was necessary to end the day with some amusement from humankind. I guess my obsession with staying connected finally won out. Sorry Keith…

First Day Excitement

I remember when I was a kid and my dad would take us skiing at Crystal Mountain, Washington. The resort was almost 2 hours from our home and we would have to wake up obscenely early to be there by nine in the morning. Rising early was never a problem for me because I could hardly sleep anyway and was always up long before the sun ever crested the tips of the trees. I remember how exciting those times were and how I could hardly stand the wait until I would be swooshing down the mountain.

I wondered this morning where those days had gone when my boys anxiously awoke me quite a bit before Rachael Standard Time allowed me to roll out of bed? I should have been jittery with anticipation. Solitude was opening early and it was the first day of the season! With Thanksgiving still weeks away and ski lifts cranking, I shouldn’t have been able to contain my excitement but I just lay there in bed wishing my boys would go back to sleep.

Not that I was thrilled that Solitude decided to open early and that my kiddos just happened to have the day off and could enjoy the first turns of the season with me. I was, I promise, I just couldn’t feel it…not like I used too. Why the lack of enthusiasm? Maybe I am just spoiled rotten with solid, long winter ski seasons or maybe, just maybe, I am turning into a real grown-up? You know the ones who finally back away from the trampoline after years of showing off to let their kids have all the fun. Real grown-ups do that. They sit around and are fine watching instead of participating. Was I becoming one of those?

Hey, it’s me talking, what am I saying?! I think I just stayed up too late. Whatever the matter, I was okay catching a natural high from my kid’s excitement and I finally rallied and made it up shortly after 9:00 am.

The boys were bouncing from the roof of the car and I had to lay down the game plan at least four times before they caught on that they were going to have to get their season passes BEFORE they could actually put their skis on. The groans and moans and wired up energy found their way into the ticket office where they continued to drive Solitude’s employees crazy until the passes were secured in their pockets and they were free to go.

By the time I was ready (and let’s be clear, I am no girly girl slow poke), the boys were already at the lift chattering it up with the lifties and yelling at me to hurry. I clicked into my bindings and felt a surge of happiness course through my veins. Finally, the excitement hit. I couldn’t wait to break in a new pair of skis and make some turns! I also realized that for the very first time, I hadn’t helped either of my children put on, tighten or adjust any of their gear! No whining, no crying just sheer joy from my crew. I smiled and decided that I liked this new chapter of my life.

Utah locals were out in full force this morning along with many of Utah’s media outlets. Everyone was delirious with ski fever and excited about the early turns. Solitude was able to get three runs open and all had good coverage. All of our skis came home with zero dings so that says something. I did, however, lay some major ground rules. Too many people to rip, stay ON the trails and NO jumping and goofing off. For a couple of hours the runs were like being on the freeway during rush hour but eventually, people got their token first runs in and things quieted down. By 1:00 p.m., the mountain turned into a down right ghost town and the rules sort of went out the window as well as my late blooming enthusiasm. I kicked off my gear like a “real grown up” and sat back on the steps of Moonbeam Lodge to catch some rays and watch the boys lap run after run. I drank in their happiness and realized that life was definitely changing.

What a gorgeous afternoon and I couldn’t have asked for a better way to start the season. I am truly grateful, once again, to Solitude Mountain Resort for giving me the opportunity to share my love of the sport, my family and our many days on the slopes with you. May the snow fall deep and hard and may each of you find your inner child and have a truly wonderful 2013/2014 ski season!

There’s Always Tomorrow…(But it won’t be the same)

Walking into the Moonbeam Lodge this morning felt like coming home. After a few ski trips out of state and the new found warmth of spring, it has been awhile since I have clicked into my bindings at Solitude. It’s been much longer than that since I have stopped into the Lodge. Of course, I got my usual spot (right at the front door) and traipsed into the brown bag area to find…nothing, no one, not a soul around. Actually, it’s like this a lot. I smiled, took in the homey, musty smell of my favorite hang out spot and welcomed myself home.

I recently returned from skiing endless, staggering vertical at Big Sky, MT and before that, Jackson Hole. I loved playing on such amazing mountains but now, after all the glitz and glam has since dimmed into the fading season, the quiet and serenity of Utah’s most peaceful resort called me to her. The magic of a cold, spring snowfall was just what this gal needed to sink back into the roots and soulfulness of my sport. Solitude may not be big and full of herself but she is sweet, deep and unmarred by the hustle of the world around her.

 

Fourteen inches of cold fluff (not the heavy spring stuff we’ve gotten accustomed to) but authentic, middle of winter powder, brought out the fat skis and one excited mama. I should have let my boys miss school but I called a friend instead and we floated, literally, in our hours of childless freedom.

I expected more enthusiasm from the locals but, with minds on spring sports and summer around the corner, I think people may have hung up their boards for the moment. Those who found yourselves drawn to the mountains this morning, must likely share in my sentiments, that today, Tuesday April 9th, was assuredly the best day of the year! Today was inspiring, rejuvenating and completely epic. With no one to compete with and untouched lines galore, it was a powder addicts dream and the best drug I know to put a smile on one’s face.

The air was cold, but not bitter and as the sun eventually emerged with her blissful rays, Solitude became bathed in effervescent perfection. The mountain stood still and the canyons lay quiet as we silently engraved our turns upon her unscathed slopes. A piece of my soul was left today, high in the trees of Honeycomb and I may just have to see if I might find where I left it tomorrow…

Groundhogs Don’t Know Anything and 25 Things About Me

Punxsutawney Phil, the groundhog, who predicted an early spring by not seeing his shadow, is a knucklehead or at least the people who believe in groundhog weather prediction are. In fact, we are officially three days into spring and it has snowed each day thus far.

Who does this rodent think he is?

Some of you may not be so keen on the extended stay of winter but any of you who have been lucky enough to make some arcs the last few days are wallowing in glee over the powder that is falling.

 

Noah getting some spring powder

 

Since I am one of the wintery souls who is desperately trying to hold onto the last blasts of winter and am momentarily being a bit nostalgic, I thought it would be fun to share with you 25 things about me and the first three days of spring 2013.

 

1. I really don’t love babies. In fact, I see pregnant women and I feel bad for them.

2. This leads me to “Thank the Lord above that I don’t have toddlers.”

3. Which means I have boys who no longer whine…except when they are hungry, have to go somewhere they don’t want, have to do homework or pretty much every other moment except when they are shredding the gnar. I guess they whine.

No complaints from this kid!

 

4. Which also means they can ski just about anywhere and in any condition.

 

Yes they can.

 

5. I guess they will likely be better than me soon…Hmmm, maybe toddlerhood isn’t so bad! Nah.

 

This kid is getting good!

 

6. There was one day this week that I needed a poncho instead of a coat…thank goodness it was just one day.

7. I really hate skiing in freezing rain….I won’t say where but, it wasn’t Solitude.

8. I am beyond grateful that I live within minutes to 4 insanely awesome mountains.

 

Who wouldn’t want to live here?

 

9. I prefer the drive up Big vs. Little. Blizzards while driving down Little still make me nervous, even after 17 years.

10. I love that Solitude is willing to give me a voice…even when they probably wished they didn’t.

11. I really dislike the food at Last Chance but will drop mad cash at Honeycomb Grill & Stone Haus Pizzeria.

12. Days where you have to bundle up and cover every last bit of skin and then are sweltering hot minutes later means that you are skiing in spring. Not sure I am so fond of this but, I’ll survive.

 

Excellent spring skiing:)

 

13. The best snow this week fell Friday night into Saturday. This ALWAYS happens…why?

14. Even though there were gobs of people (because of the weekend powder), I still found a killer parking spot. Ski in Ski out baby!

15. If you were to follow me, you might find some seriously untouched stashes of steep powder. I would never let that happen…unless you were really nice.

 

He’s not telling either;)

 

16. I’ve learned the patrol don’t ski and tell either and really don’t like it when I open my big mouth. You got to figure this stuff out on your own.

17. I love that I know exactly where to ski and when to ski it to get the best that Solitude has to offer.

 

Ahhhh…

 

18. Yes, these pictures were taken today (Saturday), and the boys and I found our untouched wonderlands without hardly seeing a soul around…even with the fresh snow and hoardes of skiers. Ahhh…Solitude.

19. I am scared to death of the hike up Fantasy Ridge…I really am.

20. I told Noah that he can’t hike it until he’s 12. He checked it out pretty closely today and agreed.

21. I’ve decided that Isaac needs some bigger and fatter skis. A few weeks left to the season…should I do it?

 

That sticker on his helmet says it all!

 

22. I am a pro at pulling snowboarders, kids and anyone else who needs it, across the flats in blinding snow.

23. Solitude needs to put in a rope tow along Deer Trail. Don’t hate me please.

24. Did I mention that I love Solitude?

25. I really LOVE fresh, deep powder at the end of March!

He might be tired from a day of hiking but he loves it too!

 

 Thank goodness for us that the groundhog was WRONG!

It Just Takes One

 

Noah would say just one hour was worth it!

 

Lives can change in the blink of an eye. One second, one minute, one day. Today, all I needed was one hour.

 

Sometimes, we Utahan’s get lethargic about the resorts which are just a stones throw away. Even those of us who heed the call of winter become passive. We get lazy about making turns and we turn our noses up to snowless days, sunless days, windy days, crowded days, whatever it is that stops us from pulling the trigger.

 

I am sure this is much like Californian’s who can see the coast from their windows but never pull their surf boards off of their garage rafters. Why is it, that so few of us actually make it up the canyons, make it a priority or like those who long for the water, are out in the breaks by 6:00 am?

 

We all have our passions, the things that drive us and make us lust for more. I am a water person but I am most drawn to it in its frozen form. I believe there are those who’s souls belong to the water and they are drawn like the tides to the heart of the ocean. I feel this each time that I drive up into the mountains.

 

Each of us come alive in our own element but, sometimes we forget and usually, it is when we need the thing that we love the most. Mostly, life just gets in the way but, lately, I have become sluggish in my motivation to fill myself with the happiness that the mountain snows bring to me. Each spring as the winter’s drifts thaw and swell the creeks, that spark flickers and it is then that I know I need to drink it up before it is gone for another season.

 

Although, fresh snow had fallen over night and was still piling up throughout the morning, homework, personal issues and an afternoon hockey game took precedence. I longed to make some turns however, so I loaded the car with all of our gear…just in case. As we rolled out of the Olympic Oval following a disheartening loss at yes, 2:20 p.m., all I really wanted to do was go home and be done with my day.

 

I decided to drive the long route home, past the bottom of Big Cottonwood…just in case.  As I approached the light to turn up, I thought of wasted gas for one hour of skiing, I pondered the darkened sky and my cranky boys who may or may not be joyful about donning all their gear for a measly three runs. It would have been so easy just to pass but, the pull was too strong. It had taken hold and I couldn’t shake it.

 

I gave into my desire to feel the freedom of my heart’s release, even for just a moment. The line of late afternoon traffic crept along side us as we sped along in the opposite direction. 3:00 p.m. at Solitude and there was nothing but an empty parking lot to greet us. The clouds were thinning to reveal strands of bright light from an early spring sun. The trees stood still, glistening in it’s warmth, my children smiled and yes, all became well with my soul.

 

You might ask “Was it worth it, just one hour?”

 

Well, what do you think?

 

“Hark, now hear the sailors cry,

smell the sea, and feel the sky

let your soul & spirit fly, into the mystic…”

Van Morrison

Dear God, It’s Me Noah

Dear God, it’s me Noah.

You know that I am a usually a pretty good kid and you know that I want to grow up and be an honest and good productive member of society. I want you to know that I try my best to listen to my parents, do well in school and be a good friend. Sometimes, I may not succeed but I always take my best shot.

There is just one hitch on my road of life to perfection (well, two if you count hockey). It is called snow, lot’s of snow. When you decide that it is necessary to send such insane quantities of powder, how can I possibly sit in school and learn? Really, how can I? I have patiently watched the snow fall for two days straight. I have watched it pile up so high that I can no longer step into it, I have to climb it! I have watched my mom shovel and my dad plow time and time again. I have to listen to my mom sing her happy snow songs and do her happy snow dances. I am tired of hearing about face shots and snow so deep you can’t breath and so there comes a point in one’s life (me, I am talking about me) when you just have to throw it all to the wind and have a little fun. I know my mom is all about recreational amusement so, it wasn’t too hard to persuade her to let me skip out on 4th grade for a day.

I would like to point out that in class we are currently learning about weather so I think a hands on learning experience about atmospheric pressure, climate changes and geological formations should actually count as extra credit, don’t you? Could you let my teacher know that I hucked a few of those formations yesterday just so I could really get my day’s fill of good, hard edumacation.

Now, God, I would really like you to know that although I ditched school for Solitude Mountain Resort, it is also important to point out that my integrity is still intact. In fact, while some of my grown up ski friends called in sick to work, lied about car accidents, unintentionally slept in or made up some other phony excuse to shred the gnar, I just told the truth.

I went into the school office at 10:45 am and said my mom would be checking me out any minute to go skiing. The secretary rolled her eyes at me and sighed and said “Have fun playing hookie.” Hey, at least she knew I wasn’t standing there full of excuses. I am a Hodson, it’s what I do. I am genetically programmed to find a way, no matter what to have fun but, I will always call it like it is. However, in defense Madame Secretary, I was NOT playing hookie!

The Urban Dictionary says this about hookie:

“A day in which liberty is taken upon oneself to exclude themself (Hey, Urban dictionary…that’s not even a real word!) from school or work obligations while, most likely, pretending to be sick or having a death in the family. Usually this time is spent with a significant other, a sports activity (i.e. golf or playstation), or just plain sitting on one’s tushy (I changed this word to make it G-rated…your welcome.) all day.”

It is important for me to convey to you that I did not play hookie. As a matter of fact, I think I should rake up some bonus points from you because in looking back over the incident, I believe I played all my cards exactly right! As you know honesty is a commandment and I followed it to perfection.

So, God, I guess what I am saying is that I am not perfect and that I won’t always make the best choices but, in this case, you must admit that this incident is really all on your shoulders. You are the one sending all this snow and you are the one who gave me a mom who’s biggest claim to fame was that she had more truancies than anyone else in her high school. You are also the one who made me love this white stuff so, since I am placing the blame squarely where it is most deserved, will you also help me to find a way to be successful and play my whole life through? That’s all.

Love, Noah

 

Control Your Fear

Warning: Crazy Girl Talking. You may not all agree.

On Saturday, I passed a milestone with my baby boy (who is not much of a baby anymore but, he will always be my baby) when I convinced him to ski through his first double black diamond gate into Parachute at Solitude. Isaac has taken to lolligagging around the mountain. Mind you, he is carving beautiful arcs on the groomers and working on steeper turns off trail but really doing nothing that is pushing his capabilities or making him want to be a more aggressive skier.

 

My Sweet Wee One

I went through a similar experience with my older son, Noah, trying to get him to push his limits and get out of his comfort zone. However, I fully expected Isaac to charge right out of the gate as he is ultra competitive with his brother. I figured the mere thought of Noah skiing something that was above his own ability level would produce a holy tyrant of a no holds barred skier. Boy was I wrong. Really Wrong.

 

Noah getting some air time on the many natural jumps around the Tude.

I have been hardly able to get Isaac into Black Forest’s gentle terrain let alone ski the frontside of Powderhorn’s trees without a meltdown of epic proportions. It is not that my child is not capable of skiing steeper, tighter terrain or that he does not have the ability or technique. The thing which holds him back (as well as most of us) is fear. Something that a barely seven year old does not understand how to control nor wants to.  Fear is paralyzing and fear controls how we react, how we perform and how we emotionally deal with what is before us.

Although, a seven year old skiing a double black diamond in fear sounds a bit ridiculous, this lesson of overcoming the greatest obstacle which holds all of us back is a message we all can learn from.

 

More than any other thing, fear holds us back from participating, performing and overcoming many things that we face each day. Skiing is no different. Adults tend to fear more than children who have not felt the pain of a serious fall or who do not yet understand the devastating effects of a careless mistake. Fear inhibits us from taking the next step or progressing to the next level. For years, my brother in law used to regularly ski with a woman who never skied above a green run. Was it because she just couldn’t do it? No, it was because she was scared of the unknown and her feared paralyzed her into never progressing from the nursery slopes on which she had started.

 

It is normal to have anxiety over the fear of speed or the fear of falling. Even the best skiers in the world feel fear at some level. The difference is that skilled athletes have learned how to use their fear to their advantage. It boosts adrenaline, pumps them up and when properly managed can help them perform better. For most of the general population, fear is a wall that inhibits, it can even drive us away from an experience that may have been perfectly safe and which could have brought us much joy.

 

 

Thinking about it…..

 

HE DID IT! No, this is not Solitude. You know where this is….

On Saturday, Noah and I had pumped Isaac up into ecstatic excitement as he passed through the gates and warning signs and onto the traverse which emptied into the steepest terrain he had yet to face in his young life. As I encouraged Isaac to cross over the threshold of recreational skier into “skiing is my life” status, I couldn’t help but happily envision the next phase of our ski lives together as mother and son. As he stood there atop the now very apparently steep run, his thrill at being a “big boy” turned to uncontrollable raging fear.

 

Still Excited

At that point, I could have let him turn around and ski back out or I could just help him figure out his crazy emotions so, of course, the frustrating negotiations began. You know how that goes. The “I’ll let you stop at Crown Burger on the way home” kind of negotiating but, it soon became apparent that a burger was not going to convince my baby into Parachute.  Passerby’s started looking at me curiously as I heatedly locked horns with my child. We make for two very stubborn and obstinate people so I am sure the scene was ogle worthy. A patroller eventually cruised up and asked if I knew where I was and had I read the signs? “You mean the ones that say experts only and cliffs below?” I asked and laughed. I promised him that I knew exactly where I was, what I was doing and that this little midget in front of me with gigantic tears rolling down his cheeks and who was yelling at me was perfectly capable to ski the terrain that he was now perched upon. Surprisingly, the patroller bailed and left me to my unconventional devices.

 

Our children need to sense that we are courageous, strong and will protect them no matter what. I realized my misguided tactics needed to change. I calmed down and gently reminded Isaac that I would be right below him, that I would help him and that he could do it. Isaac began to relax as I asked him to look across the hill. “Is it steep?” I said. “No” he answered. I told him to then look down the hill. “Is it steep?” I asked. “Yes” he said. “Which way are we going to ski then?” “Across the hill” he replied and we slowly began to zig zag across the mountain on our edges.

 

Traversing into Parachute

Nature has a wonderfully calming effect on the body, mind, and spirit, especially on children and I turned Isaac’s attention to the moon which was noticeable in the crystal blue sky above the jagged peaks and the dead crooked trees which held a magic that only a child could perceive. He breathed deep and took in the beauty that surrounded him as he slowly traversed across the hill under my watchful eye.

 

Before long, he grasped that he could hold his edge on that steep hill and that he was not going to fall. I had helped him overcome his fear by letting him live through the worst of it in small steps allowing his brain to literally change as he defeated his fear. Soon, Isaac was in Parachute and was turning confidently down to his brother. As Noah showed him the ropes and the thrilling gullies, shoots and sidewalls of one of Solitude’s best runs, Isaac let go of his fear and began to have fun. Eventually, he made it all the way down all on his own

 

Brotherly Love

Had Isaac had his way, he would have backed out and continued on his merry path, oblivious to the feat that he ended up conquering and loving. Had I given in and amplified his fear in myself and let him take the easy way out, we would have never shared that experience. Isaac will be back up again and no longer will be shackled by his fears as he confidently takes control of his emotions and his skills.

Noah leading the way…

 

Isaac, following behind!

We all must use the fear that holds us back and learn how to control this natural response that keep us from success. Remember that a certain amount of fear is normal and can help protect us from danger. I once witnessed a paralyzing fall when an egotistic teenager led his panicking girlfriend into an area that significantly exceeded her level of skiing. The lasting consequences of that action were felt far beyond the steep rocks of her fall. Be smart, use your intuition but take that leap of faith and find the pleasure that you have been missing out on. Get up on that mountain and conquer your fear. Maybe it is skiing down Easy Street or maybe it is skiing through Honeycomb or maybe, like me, it is the hike up Fantasy and no, my boys will not be following behind…at least not for a few more years.

 

 

What Are You Made Of?

It’s not every day that I am willing to call myself out for what I am, a pansy. Yes, I said it, I am a pansy, a wuss, a girl full of excuses. I am not always these things but for the last week or so, I have been holed up at home with no desire to do much of anything. Am I the only one with these feelings of bear like tendencies? I think not!

Yep, that’s me

I have always wondered why people in Minnesota dislike winter? Why don’t they just get outside and enjoy it? We know they like hockey, hey, I like hockey but, what else do they do? Maybe some ice fishing, maybe a little sledding, maybe some cross-country skiing, but for the most part (word on the street), people just wish for spring. It’s hard for Utahns to imagine a Minnesota winter even though this is a snowy state. Temperatures rarely dip into the single digits and the sun is generally shining. That is, unless, we are stuck under an inversion otherwise known as smog. However, for us, there is an escape that doesn’t include the Mall of America.

 

This says it all…

We can head up into the crystal clear skies of the higher elevations. Odd as it may seem, the resorts are generally warmer than the valley when the (ahem) inversion settles in. We don’t need to warm up by a fire when we can warm up skiing laps at one of several major ski areas. We snowshoe, ski, sled, hike and keep on running and biking. When the sun melts the snow off the golf courses, people head out and hit balls. I’ve seen it…in January. Most of us love winter. It means a break from the heat, good hearty food, seasonal sports and plenty of water in the dry months when we need it most! The point is, while Minnesotans are bundled up with blizzards and biting winds direct from the North Pole swirling outside, we generally enjoy temperate storms that howl in off the Pacific. Snow that accumulates in the night and sun that warms us in the days. You know what I am saying, your not hanging out at a pool in your bikini of course, but you can definitely put on a jacket and some mittens and take a comfortable stroll with your dog.

Might be Canada but you get what I am saying

I am going to go out on a limb and say that (I think) we all might be experiencing a little taste of what it’s like to be living in Minnesota….or the North Pole! I get it. I don’t want to go out and do anything! I don’t even want to head up to the mountains and get my lazy self in gear. I tried, I took one run and then sat in my car and cried as I pried my boots off. In fact, this last storm that nuked in the valleys, 40 inches in some spots, only left half of that up on the runs. Why is that? It was too DANG cold to even snow up there!

Brrr!!!! My car was as unhappy as my toes!

 

Not only has it been (-10) bitter cold but the flu has hit Utah in a nasty way. Isaac actually missed three days of school this past week. Were we skiing? No. What a waste. Anyone who knows me, knows that I let my boys miss school for good snow. This also means they don’t miss school for anything else. They have sat through school with soaring temperatures so, they could save the sick day for a day on the hill. I guess there comes a point where you have to do what you ought to do to get better and not infect anyone else.

 

HeHeHe

Am I here telling you that the skiing isn’t worth it right now? No, I really am not. I am just saying that I am a weakling, like I said, a pansy and not as tough as I thought. Instead of letting my kid suffer home alone while I made turns in the fresh feather light powder, I sat home and suffered it out with him. It was a great excuse to not really say why I wasn’t skiing…wasn’t it?

 

I am not as tough as little Luke Mallen! Getting his bearings at the Bird.

Some of you are made of steel and some of you are figuring out how to conquer the frigid temps and some of you are even enjoying it. I’ve seen your pictures on Facebook, your happy grins, your posts of gladness that no one is cutting up your lines. I know that if I would just plug in those awful looking boot heaters that are somewhere in my basement and charge up the nerdy heated gloves that some company sent me, I could probably make it at least three runs before I went in with frost bite. I probably could. But, I’ll just give it a couple more days and let you all have the fun. Get up there! The skiing is great, the mountains are empty, the air is clean and I promise you there is always some warm hot chocolate waiting when you head inside, which you will.

If this doesn’t warm you up at Solitude’s Honeycomb Grill then…

 

maybe this will!!! Yummo, the Montana Burger is in the house!

So, I am here, typing, working through my personal issues and when I am done…likely when the temps hit 20 degrees on Wednesday and the Minnesota coats and scarves and triple layers of woolen socks are stashed away, I’ll make my way back up. Hopefully, it will not be too late to catch an untracked stash. Solitude will wait for me and she will save a nice, pristine line. I am sure of it, it’s what she does!

We know where to find this….

Don’t we Jill?!!!

Happy Holidays!

 

Cold and Beautiful below Fantasy Ridge

“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas” was playing over and over in everyone’s minds last week as the temperatures dropped on Christmas Eve and a large cold front pounded through Utah. The snow started to fall, as if on cue, for the man in red who was traveling through the night delivering gifts and has since continued to pile up. For most of us, the gift of powder was the best present anyone could have wished for. Shoveling was a pleasure and scraping snow and ice off our cars and sidewalks Christmas morning was as sweet as the candy that filled our stockings.

Merry Christmas Noah and Happy Snow Year!

 

Utah seems (fingers crossed) like it is back to a normal winter cycle after last year’s dry spell with snow truly falling and sticking around. The rocks and stumps are being buried under drifts of white and the possibility of major core shots and wrecked edges are diminishing with each passing day.

Although Christmas this year found Little Miss Sunshine (me) laid up with a nasty cold, I managed to chug a few Red Bulls, drop a few meds and make it up on the hill for some semi-inebriated turns as I couldn’t break a Hodson tradition! This only happening after my boys woke us up that morning at 3:20. I promise you, I am not joking. Someone please explain to me how you get two excited boys back to bed when Santa has come?  Runny nose and cough ignored, I finally gave in, after an hour of tears and promises, and plopped myself on our couch, in the dark of night, to see what surprises had been left under the sparkling tree. I would be really full of it if I said I then rallied and made it up to Solitude by 9:00 a.m. but the reality is, well, let’s just say I went back to bed and finally found myself (and the family) on the hill around 1:00 p.m. Hey, better late than never…right?

The Sun Peaking over Powderhorn

 

The mountain was relatively quiet, the sun was momentarily shining, the snow was light as cotton and we filled our three hours with some memorable moments including Isaac’s first turns down Black Forest this season, a secret stash that Noah discovered (which I swear I will never find myself in again) and a stop at the Roundhouse to watch Noah and Isaac, who has recently been nicknamed “The Tanker”, throw back some serious burgers. Noah claims (and will tell anyone who asks) that The Roundhouse has…da-da-da-duh…the juiciest burgers EVER! I am beginning to wonder if it is ever a legit ski day for either of them without a quick, sloppy stop mid-mountain?

Tanking Back a Roundhouse Cheeseburger

Some Good Eats

Not our greatest picture ever…but Merry Christmas from us anyways!

 

So, another Christmas came and went, my sniffles have since abated and yes, I have made it up several times to enjoy the fresh Utah snow all the while the New Years looms ever nearer. With the holiday season, comes the tourists, who must have heard that we maybe had some good snow here, and have spontaneously flocked to our state in droves.  In fact, yesterday, my family got the shock of a lifetime when we actually had to circle a few times for a parking spot. After an hour or so of people watching and some casual skiing we decided it might be nicest of us to just share the mountain with those who may not get to ski it as often and returned home.

A line at Moonbeam is as rare as seeing a white moose in Park City!

 

Of course, there is plenty of mountain to go around and of course there is ample space to spread out but, when you are used to seeing more people skiing with red coats and a white cross on their backs than any other type of skier, I decided, as the gracious Utahn that I am (or spoiled rotten brat), to let the good folks from out of town enjoy our powder for the next few days. In fact, I promise to give you all the space you need but, I do expect to have our mountain back to is solitary self by Wednesday. Sound alright?

Sweet Solitude

Laughs and jokes aside, I truly hope that everyone reading this had a wonderful, peaceful and joyous holiday and that the New Year’s brings much success, happiness and plenty of powder. Go Seahawks!

P.S. Great quote overheard on Challenger (and yes, it was a busy day…for Solitude): “If we were at Deer Valley right now, we would be picking our way down this run through the skiers…glad we came to Solitude!”