Monday, February 9, 2009

Middle Aged?? Not Me!!


I turned 45 on Friday. According to my older brother Vince, I have now entered the ranks of the middle aged. Middle aged?!?!?!? Me???? I don't think so!!!! That rule may apply to others, but not to me (OK, I know my friend Cynthia is laughing at that comment!!!).

I don't feel 45.

I don't act 45, or at least my idea of what a lot of 45 year old's act like.

I don't think I look 45 (other people tell me that all the time, and I assume they are not saying it just to be nice).

Me (not looking 45) with Flat Ben Junior and Kim (also NOT looking her age)

I think it's a HOOT that I'm really that old, like it can't possibly be true.

I am fortunate to have been born with an abundance of energy, which I have managed to maintain through the years. I've been smart enough to have taken good care of myself, physically and mentally, so that I can continue to be very active; as active as many in their 20s. So, how did I celebrate my entrance into middle age? By tele-skiing my tookus off for three days!


Jesper and I do not work on our birthdays; we adopted this protocol from my brother Jeff and now take every birthday off to partake in something fun and active. Having a birthday in February means I usually go skiing (although this year it was warm enough in Boulder to mountain bike if I wanted to). Being that my birthday was on a Friday, we decided I should celebrate my birthday the entire weekend. That sounded just fine to me, so we rented a condo up in Winter Park, where some good friends from North Carolina (Suze and Patrick) were staying and other Boulder friends (Kim, Dan, Megan and Ryan) would join us for an anticipated 3 days of skiing.


Hmmmm... 3 days on tele-skis. Would I be able to do it and still enjoy myself? Since Jesper and I spent 2 weeks in Denmark this December, we are down a little on our ski days. It takes many days of tele-skiing to get the legs accustomed to doing lunges all day long and for the little muscles in the feet to get used to all the flexing they do while on the slopes. Back in January when we booked the condo in Winter Park, I was still feeling pretty worked after 1 day of skiing and I was worried about how 3 days would go.

Some of you may not be familiar with telemark skiing (or tele-skiing for short). Tele-skiing is a downhill method of skiing with special skis and boots that hinge at the heel and flex at the toe. This allows the skier to go uphill, like a cross country skier, a feat made even more nifty by putting "skins" on the skis. Skins are self adhesive fabric strips you stick to the bottom of the skis to add extra friction when going uphill. We did not skin during our weekend at Winter Park; that's what ski lifts are for (Megan, you nut!)!!! The other difference between tele-skiing and regular alpine skiing is how you proceed downhill. A telemark skier genuflects one knee down to initiate the turn and then does the same thing on the other leg to turn the other way. It looks like this:

I love tele-skiing because it is graceful and rhythmic. It get's you very close to the snow. And, it's an awesome workout. Like I said, doing lunges all day long! Hence my concern about doing this for 3 days.


We arrived at the condo Thursday evening, unpacked and got the dog settled and went over to our North Carolina friends' condo for dinner, drinks and games.

The next day was my birthday!!! Yay! We met up with Suze and Patrick and proceeded to show them our favorite places on the Mary Jane side of the resort. It was cloudy, windy and cold, but we still managed to get up the Panoramic Express Lift a couple times.

Patrick coming off the Panoramic Lift

I was surprised they were running the lift, as it is usually closed when it's really windy. I did not enjoy the lift ride up at all (really freakin' cold!) and the top of the Parsenn Bowl was wind scoured and icy. But as soon as you dipped into the bowl itself, the wind-deposited snow was nice and the trees were fantastic. We also did a couple/few laps on the Mary Jane Trail run. This long, blue run has a great pitch and always has great snow. It did not disappoint on my birthday! Jesper and I even did one non-stop run from top to bottom, finishing up with shaking quads and hammies!

After lunch, we headed over to the Winter Park side of the resort.

Patrick and Suze up on the Vasque Ridge (el. 10,700 ft.) on the Winter Park side

Jesper and I haven't spent a lot of time on this side of mountain since we first started tele-skiing. Now in our 4th year on tele skis, we were struck by how our perceptions of certain runs had changed in a couple of years. Slopes that had seemed steep were easy. Off-camber runs that had vexed us before were fun! I guess we've improved our skills in the last couple of years!

A rare photo of me AND Jesper (photo credit Patrick Bragg)

We headed back over to the Mary Jane side of the mountain for another COLD Parsenn Bowl run (still can't believe the lift was running) and some more laps on Mary Jane. A pint of 1554 was the perfect way to end the day on the slopes.

Jesper took me out to a very nice birthday dinner at the Tabernash restaurant at the Iron Horse Resort. The food was excellent (salmon with udon and cucumber strips) and the tiramisu was yummy. The service was also first rate, so I would highly recommend this place to anyone visiting Winter Park. Afterward, we were too tired and full to get in the hot tub!


Saturday morning our good friends Kim and Dan arrived with their dog Patch for an overnight stay at the condo. Initially, Strelka was very protective of her new "home" and wouldn't let Patch in! But after a few bared fangs and growls (mostly on Strelka's part), they settled down, even playing and laying next to each other. We left the condo fairly confident that both dogs would have a nice day together and we wouldn't come home to a bloody mess.

Patch and Strelka playing in the condo

Kim and Dan are fantastic mountain bikers who hadn't been on their snowboards in 2 years. You wouldn't have known it from how they rode; it was like they had been hitting the slopes every weekend! We met up with Suze and Patrick and the 6 of us skied/rode a bit together at the Mary Jane side.

Patrick, Suze, Kim , Dan and Jesper all heading off the top of the Parsenn Bowl (el. 12,060 ft.) on the Mary Jane side - it's kinda pretty up there...

After lunch, we separated and Jesper and I took Kim and Dan over to Vasque Ridge on the Winter Park side via Thunderbird Traverse, Eagle Wind, Lower Egress and Big Valley. That was a lot of traversing for anyone on a board, but Kim and Dan know what they are doing and had no problems. Once at Vasque Ridge, we played around in the trees and on some runs Jesper and I had never been on, including some big black steep moguled runs. Oddly enough, we all really enjoyed the moguls. What's up with that? Snow boarders and telemarkers enjoying big, steep moguls?!?!? Kim had a huge smile plastered on her face the entire day, so I think she was having fun!

Dan and smiling Kim at near the top of the Parsenn Bowl

We ended the ski day down at the absolutely packed Derailleur Bar, replete with Jaeger Girls. The vibe at Winter Park is sure different from the vibe at Mary Jane!

Jesper sporting his Jaeger Girl Shirt!

Dan and the ever-smiling Kim

Later that night, Megan and Ryan showed up, bringing yet another set of fresh legs for Jesper and I to contend with. Oddly enough, I was not nearly as wonked after Day 2 as I had been after the first day of skiing; might have been the overindulgence of wine on Thursday night that contributed to my tiredness Friday!


Sunday morning Kim and Dan took off after breakfast to head back down to Boulder. We met up with Ryan and Megan, who had skinned up Sleeper with a friend at 7:00 am, (I said she was a nut!) and Suze and Patrick for our Day 3. This was Suze and Patrick's 4th straight day and they were getting tired. So, after one run together, they decided to go off and ski at their own pace, recognizing that Megan and Ryan had fresh legs. Jesper proposed that our smaller group of four hit some black bump runs. That sounded like a good idea after how nice the moguls had been the day before. Note to self - don't do bumps before you are warmed up and before the snow has softened! Our feet cramped up and we all struggled to make our legs do what we wanted them to do the whole way down. We had enough of that and next decided to brave the cold and head up to the Parsenn Bowl to hit some yummy tree runs on the way down. We must have done 3 or 4 laps of this. It was super fun and challenging to keep up with Megan and Ryan, who are strong, fast skiers.

Even though we were enjoying the laps from the Parsenn Bowl immensely, we decided we needed to show Megan and Ryan the Vasque Ridge area of Winter Park. We skipped lunch and headed over once again via Thunderbird Traverse, Eagle Wind (yummy), Lower Egress and Big Valley.

Ryan, Me and Jesper, posing for our Camelbak ad at the top of the Vasque Ridge

Jesper skiing down to Ryan and Megan somewhere over at the Vasque Ridge area

Jesper and I only had time for a few runs over there, since we had to head back to the condo for a late check out, which was followed up by an apres ski beer with Megan and Ryan. Beer tastes so good after a day of skiing!

After three days of tele-skiing, I felt surprisingly good! I could ski some more! What's all this talk about being middle aged?!?!?!

Thanks to Jesper, Suze, Patrick, Kim, Dan, Megan and Ryan for celebrating my birthday weekend with me and making it one of the most memorable birthdays I've had!


Kim said...

Thank you for inviting us Jen! We had a blast and you have renewed our passion for being in the snow! Next year here we come!!!!

Megan Raymond said...

So fun! I am thankful we were there for day three;; don't think I could have hung on on day one when you guys had fresh legs!

Lara said...

I think this whole thing about "middle age" is a myth! YOU don't look/act like you're middle age, and from my own experience, I don't look/act like it either (for the record, none of my friends do either). Must be something in the Boulder air or water...

Sounds like you had a fantastic birthday! That's awesome that so many of your friends could come up and share it with you!

brg said...

of course you aren't middle aged as *most* rules don't apply to you! :p

Itty Bitty Betty said...

Actually, I am a BIG follower of RULES. If it's a firm requirement, like "you must have your dog on a leash on this trail", I follow it to a T. I do, however, believe that most GUIDELINES and ASSUMPTIONS do NOT apply to me. In fact, none of them apply to me! :p

BTW - They don't apply to you either Cynthia, as you always impress me by the way you approach the things you choose to do in life.