The alarm went off and I was dead to the world. The first thought that entered my head was, “Well, here we go, the big day has arrived.” I staggered over to the widow and looked out. A grey day, not snowing, overcast. It looked brutal up there; hard as concrete. Still, I felt pretty good. I’d had about nine hours sleep and it really does knit up the ravelled sleeve of care. My sleeve, this morning, was sporting nary a hole or even a broken thread.
Breakfasted over at the Huntley Lodge which wasn’t too bad. Found some muesli buried among the pancakes and syrup and donuts. Who eats donuts for breakfast? God, Americans eat a lot of junk, even for breakfast. A nation as rich as this and they all eat like peasants, albeit peasants with a sugar addiction. Coffee was undrinkable but I expect that now.
Came back to my room and collected the myriad of gear, trying not to leave anything behind. It was a curious feeling stepping out into the cold wind once again, skies over my shoulder, hearing my boots crunch on the snow. “How may times have I done this?” I thought. It was very familiar. This was strangely reassuring. My guide turned out to be a diminutive, American woman, Laura Herr, in her 50’s. She reminded me of Louise Stevenson, same height and build but less cheeky and more respectful. She was very much into post-surgical rehab. This is her first season back on the mountain after suffering a fractured fibula, broken ankle and torn ankle tendons. Run down by a snowboarder last winter. Screws in her ankle but no plate. When she described the accident I was amazed she wasn’t killed. We swapped a lot of war stories on the chair lift. Like me, she had been skiing continuously for 40 years without incident and then – bang – she cops a big one. She had the screws out before the season started so she could get a ski boot on. Little bit of residual pain on steep slopes and very apprehensive when she hears a snowboarder looming behind her. Understandably.
Anyway we started up the Ramcharger Quad and onto an easy blue groomer called Pondersoa, which became the first slope I’ve skiied down since breaking my leg. Not bad. No pain so we kept at it. Ended up skiing solidly for 3 hours. I had an ache in the Patella tendon, just below my kneecap but Belinda had told me to expect this. No pain from the plate even when I leaned hard into a turn on that side.
After Laura clocked off I had a quick coffee…Yuck, it would kill your old brown dog on a chain, and kept going. Became acquainted with mellow runs like Elk Park Ridge and Big Horn. They are only blues so I haven’t let the dog out yet, but they were fun to ski without any pain. Surprised myself and kept going until 3pm – that’s 5 hours of skiing on the first day. Much more than I had expected and surprisingly, my quads weren’t sore which is unusual for a first day’s outing. Maybe I’m fitter than I thought or maybe Belinda’s exercises have done the trick. Either way I’ve realised that If I want to keep skiing I’ll be in the gym for the rest of my life. I also realise that I wouldn’t be here expect for Belinda – She who must be obeyed – was worth every cent I paid her.