Thumbs up at White Pass

February 21, 2008

Well, it wasn’t so much thumbs plural as it was just the one thumb. And it wasn’t up so much as it was down, caught in the snow, and quickly swelling and bruising. I’ll start at the beginning.

Saturday was a day for skiing up at White Pass. Someone at work had organized a bunch of people to go, and we all met at a parking lot early in the morning. There weren’t as many as I had hoped, and I only ended up with one other person in my car. Fortunately, he planned to ski, and he was experienced, so I would likely have a ski partner. Once we all got up there, we split apart immediately. Some went off to do cross-country skiing, some were doing snowboarding, and Jesper (from Denmark) and I got in the rental line for skis. The line was longer than I had ever seen, and after 1/2 an hour we finally got to the front. Shortly after, we had our skis and were on the slopes.

The snow was less than ideal. In fact, it pretty much sucked. There was a hard icy crust on top and no powder. Even the moguls were hard bumps with slippery tops that didn’t slow the skis down. It was challenging, but not in a good way. Fortunately, on the straight parts I could just tuck and go extremely fast. Jesper wasn’t the type to go fast; he liked to take long curves. I didn’t have to wait for him for long, though. We skied through the day. He stopped for a quick lunch and I ate from my pockets and continued to ski. I typically carry string cheese, fruit snacks, pepperoni or beef jerky, and a bottle of water in my jacket, so I’m fine to just munch on the lift. After my third run alone we met up again at the lift.

There was one run that he liked a lot that included taking the ridge as far as possible, going down a bit and skating up to the peak. We could see all around from there. It’s not a friendly start, though, with a small area only a few feet wide that you have to slide down sideways before it opens up. The tricky part was that with the hard icy snow and no way to turn, I got going pretty quickly and didn’t have any way to stop. The first time I did this part I put my hand on the slope as I was going and put my hand through the crust. It’s disturbing enough that the slope is such that you can put your hand against it while still standing. The second time down the run I touched the slope again, but this time it bit back; I hit something that bent my thumb in ways unintended. I was still going, though, so I came to a stop and took off my glove to inspect and check for breaks. Fortunately, there were none, but it hurt a lot.

I was good for a few more runs but had an occasional pain as I used my injured hand. I stopped about fifteen minutes before closing time, and Jesper went on one last run. I returned my skis and waited. The rest of the caravan had already left for home, so it was just the two of us again. We drove home, stopping at Miner’s for the caloric Miner burger.

My thumb has since swelled a bit, and there is obvious bruising at the joints. I can’t quite move it as much, but it seems to be healing fine. The lesson is to keep your hands and feet inside at all times.

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