I have heard it said that when oil got to $50 a barrel, Texas would just buy Colorado and make it into a state park. Well, $50 a barrel oil has come and gone and we still haven’t bought Colorado, but based on our ski trip experience over New Year’s, it is our state park anyway. Half the state was there.
When we moved to Muleshoe, we bribed the kids with the promise of learning to snow ski. So when the Methodist church we joined had a ski trip for the kids that year, we signed up and had our first snow skiing experience at Wolf Creek Pass, between Pagosa Springs and South Fork, Colorado. When no one else has snow, Wolf Creek always does, as was the case this year, so that’s where we decided to go. And we weren’t disappointed.

At 10,850 feet, Wolf Creek is not the highest ski mountain around, but is blessed with all the right stuff to always have good snow and be very cold. By the time we drove into the parking lot Thursday morning, the car themometer registered -10. Cold it was, but it was a perfect day for skiing. Little or no wind, beautiful blue sky, reasonable crowds-mostly from Texas-and piles of powder.
The snowboarders and little kid skiers were out in force. As a group, snowboarders tend to be young, which means they are also reckless, fast, and seem to lack ski manners. Or maybe I am just jealous that they can make snowboarding look so easy, and I can barely handle the intermediate runs. But they go whizzing past at ninety miles an hour with no warning or fall in front of me and scare me to death. And then there are the little kids, all of three feet tall , maybe less, moseying along with no poles and no fear, making pizza slices with their skis while tackling moguls on runs I avoid like the plague.

Well, avoided that is, until my grandson lured me down Thumper, an intermediate run that surprised us both with nothing but deep, hard moguls. And it was way too long, so I managed to fall more than once and lose my religion more than once before finally making it down to flatter ground. I don’t have style and I don’t have grace, but I don’t fall often on my face, and I didn’t fall on other harder runs. Well, except for Kaa the Snake, an intermediate I actually liked, but it wasn’t so hard to get back up like it was on Thumper when I was trying to put skis back on and get up, all while gravity was sliding me down the mountain. That’s the thing about skiing: it wears you out dragging around all that awkward-to-carry equipment, dealing with putting on and walking around in ski boots, having to practically undress in all those layers of clothes to go to the bathroom, and then the final insult, falling and looking like an uncoordinated beached whale while little kids are shussing past without a care in the world.

And yet we will go back and do it again and call it fun. Gluttons for punishment, you say? Yep. But when you slide off that lift and look at all God’s creation in those spectacular mountain peaks, the snow glittering like diamond dust, the deep blue sky with jet trails across it, and then make your way down in the crisp air, well, it’s all worth it.