Wednesday, December 4, 2013
The sky was dark when I woke up at seven thirty and a small window had been left open, so everyone with beds on the floor, four out of six people of which I was not one, was cold during the night and all of my clothes were freezing.
After breakfast, most of us left to ski, but several people stayed behind to do snow sculpting. At the mountain I got my stuff on and began to ski immediately. I went up the lift with Alaska the majority of the time, except when I lagged behind to help someone up after they had fallen or lost a ski.
Then one time, as we were being pulled up the steepest part of the slope, the rope attached to the T-bar snapped and sentAlaska and I tumbling off to either side. We lay there shocked for a few moments before collapsing into helpless laughter. It took a little bit before we could stand up and everyone on the lift was dropping off on the exit below us. When we made it onto the trail, I had to carry the plastic T-bar down which attracted odd looks from those that had not seen what had happened.
Around eleven or eleven thirty, the horizon began to turn magnificent shades of pink and orange graced by slivers of light blue. The sky remained darkened, with only the east horizon coloring for the rest of the daylight hours. Sunrise melded seamlessly into sunset and the sun never actually rose over the mountain, leaving the biting wind to scour the landscape.
We had lunch at the base of the mountain near the ski rental building, hot juice and cooked sausage, cold juice and cold sandwiches. After lunch, we had two more hours to ski.
A couple runs later I spotted a guy tele skiing and stopped and talked to him about the transition from tele to alpine for a bit. I was really wishing that I had brought my skis just for those two days of skiing because I was really missing them.
After a while, Alaska got me to go with him down a trail covered in deep powder, one that we later found out was closed, but there was no indication of that. The powder was almost knee deep over most of the trail, and much deeper in the rest.
My first run I fell early on and it was a struggle to get out, even with some friendly unhelpful help from another skier. I had forgotten how hard it was to ski powder and I had to stop frequently to rest.
The second time I managed to stay close to Alaska until he tumbled into a snow drift. I glided closer while laughing at him, and tripped and fell sideways down the trail. We were both laughing then and he got up. I couldn't get up because my leg was fully extended up the trail and the ski was stuck. It hurt to move, so I had Alaska release my ski. Once I got it back on, we skied to the bottom with no further mishaps.
As we rode the lift up for the third run, we saw a man teaching a little girl how to tele ski. It reminded me of Dad teaching me when I first started several years ago.
The third run I collapsed into knee deep snow and spent at least five minutes trying to free myself. It has been so long since I had to get up on alpine skis, so I found myself trying to do it the way I usually get up, and failing spectacularly because the alpine boots don't bend that way. Eventually, I gave up and detached both skis so I could stand up and then put them back on.
After that run, I did two more on the main trail before deciding that my muscles could not take any more.
At two everyone had returned their skis and was on the bus back to the hotel. The sunset faded from the horizon, leaving the sky dark and cloudy.
After we returned, it was time for sauna. The hotel had a huge sauna that could fit a ton of people. The girls got the sauna rooms in the hotel and the boys had the ones outside by the river. The sauna also had a door that led outside so people could cool off by jumping in the snow. I, myself, jumped into the snow twice.
I got really hot in the sauna and then ran outside. I threw myself face first into the snow and immediately felt the cold start to seep into my bones. I quickly rolled over and jumped to my feet and ran to the door. As I ran, I could feel the snow crystals melting in rivulets down my naked body. I felt my hand almost stick to the frosted metal as I yanked the door open. Once I was back inside, I hurried to return to the warmth of the sauna.
After sauna we had dinner. Then we got back on the buses and drove to a nearby school for a Rotary gathering. During this we sat down and watched some performances. There was a group of four girls who danced and sang two songs and an old Sami man sang several songs in the Sami language. He had a beautiful voice and was dressed in the traditional Sami garb: reindeer skin shoes and pants tied with colorfully threaded belts, a dark blue tunic with colorful embroidery, and a tall embroidered dark blue hat with four points, one for each compass direction. The hat also had ribbons hanging from it. They functioned like the triangles on Nachi women's headpieces: they indicate marital status, but these are for men. Worn on the left means that the man is married, right means engaged, and down the back means "still looking for beautiful ladies". Worn over the face the mean, in his exact words, "woohoo, carnaval!"
After him, groups of exchange students went up in country groups to perform. The Australians sang Among the Gum Trees, which I half sang along to, the Mexicans made a flag backdrop to Alejandro doing his spinning tricks, and the Canadians went up and apologized for not having anything one at a time until the last person said, "yah, we're sorry, eh." in a stereotypical Canadian accent. Then Alaska decided to go up on his own and did a very excellent impression of Golem. He voice was dead on and it was quite hilarious. Then someone forced the single girl from South Africa up there and she sang a traditional song in African about an old man pushing a wheelbarrow.
After that there were a couple weird contests and a snack before we went back to the hotel and went to bed.