JASPER, AB — There always seems to be some mini-tragedy that keeps me and my family from getting to the hill on time. If it's not poor road conditions and accidents, then it's a family crisis that delays us. During one dreaded weekend this past November my dad decided to throw his back out, and after he lay down in a Hinton A&W booth and couldn’t get back up, skiing was pretty out for that weekend. The last time we went skiing, when we actually woke up at 4 am to drive to Jasper from Edmonton, we got a flat. My dad spent a good fifteen minutes trying to figure it out (he managed to fix the wheel without throwing his back out again).
But this past weekend I got my cake and ate it too, as I got to the hill early and was able to tear up Marmot Basin all...day...long.
My sister, my friends, and I had been talking about the Family Day weekend ski trip for weeks. Ours and two other youth groups were going to Marmot Basin, staying in a hostel, and driving up in a yellow school bus. It was a great gig; I already had a season pass and equipment. We got two ski days and two looooong bus rides. All the ingredients for a good weekend.
Despite the long bus ride from Edmonton to Jasper, there were plenty of laughs to be had to help pass the time.
Photo courtesy of Zoe Kruschke
It all began with our drive up on Friday. Our entire luggage was packed up in a U-HAUL while the kids were loading ye olde cheese wagon. Turns out there wasn’t exactly enough seats for 70 kids, so my youth group got the lucky draw to have three people to a seat. At one point we had four. But we sang and laughed and slept until eventually the four hours passed and we arrived at our hostel in Jasper. We were all buzzing with excitement for the following day.
That is, until our leaders told us we needed to wake up at 6 am. But with our tummies full of McDonald’s and our beds prepared, I think pretty much every kid fell asleep the moment their heads touched their pillows. In the morning we quickly got on the hill, and after the others had gotten their passes and rentals we flew down that mountain with cramped buses and small breakfasts being the last thing on our minds.
That evening we got some time on the town and we were given the chance to mingle with the other kids. Everyone was crying for the chance to go to the hot tub, but we were overruled. The bags under our eyes grew even noticeable on Sunday morning, but our second day skiing turned out to be quite eventful, and our bus ride home that night proved to be quite un-eventful, given the fact that everyone was asleep.
When you're skiing alone, wipe outs can be embarrassing. When you're with a group ... they're pretty hilarious.
Photo courtesy of Zoe Kruschke
Skiing in a group is always a challenge. Especially with people you have never skied with before. You still want to get lots of runs in, but you don’t want to leave anyone behind, and you sure don’t want to be forgotten either. On Sunday I did at one point take off on my own, but as fun and exhilarating as flying solo can be, I do prefer skiing as a social sport. Having your friends see your epic wipeouts, being able to show off your fab carving, and races with each other are all key to an ideal ski day.
And when your friends begin to call you “Sensei”, you know that the day couldn’t be the same without them.
Getting on the hill early was a refreshing change, to say the least. You get the best snow of the day, lines are zilch, and the parking lots are next to empty. The day is longer, which gives you the opportunity for some of the shenanigans that went down on the hill. I mastered the star jump, or the “spread eagle”, as my dad later corrected me. A snapped ski pole and twisted ski binding were achieved by the end of Sunday. My friend, Josh, swore that a marmot ran across his skis, when I, in my four years, have never seen a marmot at Marmot Basin.
The weekend was as good as we could have hoped for. I will try and get on the hill as early as I can from now on, and I will be counting down the days until I am on the mountain once again. The old geezers in florescent ski suits rippin up the hill better than anyone else, the little gaffers on leashes and the full parking lots but absolutely no lift lines all make up Marmot’s timeless charm.
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