Our days in Canada are numbered. Literally. For our 638 day living and working overseas we woke up at 06:10, rubbed our puffy eyes (getting old ungraciously), showered, dressed and caught the elevator down to Level 27. Julian was waiting by his front door, like a kid with a school bag at a bus stop. We descended to P2, clambered into Julian’s parents’ car (his broke down earlier this winter and they’ve lent him theirs) and Julian drove us up to York Mills.
There were only 41 people on the NTSC chartered bus today. Before leaving York Mills the routine announcements were made: “This is a North Toronto Ski Club bus for alpine skiing to Blue Mountain. Anybody not from North Toronto Ski Club?” A guy at the back of the bus yelled out, “High Park!?” He got off the bus to wait for the other ski club. At the third pickup point a woman stopped the bus, “Wait! my friend isn’t on the bus!” The rules are strict: Departs from Toronto: Merton – 7:00 York Mills – 7:15 HW400/HW7 – 7:35 Depart Ski Area 5:00 PM. It was already 07:40. The woman blocked the door and called her friend on her cell, “One minute!” She was trying to bargain. 41 other people had made the effort to get to pickup on time, now she wanted the entire bus to wait for one. The bus waits for nobody. Very unhappy she returned to her seat, still talking loudly in Russian, on her phone. Canadians may be polite to your face but they are as unforgiving as Australians when it comes to travel. Turned out the woman was a second High Park member, on the wrong bus. Luckily for her we were going to the same ski hill.
The ice has begun to melt and the slopes were coated by slush and occasional brown patches. We’ve not been skiing for almost four weeks and the skills we had been working on (upper-lower body separation and turning our legs orthogonal to the downhill slope) were out the window today: we had to focus on “edging” (not the masturbatory kind) and keeping or skis pointing mostly down hill. We started on a green but continued mostly on a blue run for the lesson. I unconsciously started to lean uphill and had to bring my outside/downhill pole around to ensure my downhill shoulder stayed over my downhill leg, which had the weight on the downhill ski. It was a lot to concentrate on and the slushy snow would occasionally through with bumps but the pace of the class was fast (the instructor talked the entire chair lift ride up and we skied straight back down).
Our budget is quite tight so Dan had cooked lunch, which we reheated in the microwave upstairs in the South Base Lodge. We eyed hamburgers and fries on others’ plates with envy. We took a long lunch to dry out from the short shower that drenched us right before lunch.
I wasn’t keen to ski after lunch. It was out last day. I was thankful Iade it through my second Step Five lesson only falling over once. Dan, Julian and Umberto were keen though so I went for just one run. Two hours later we had skied across two chair lifts around the mountain, past the village and into the blacks and double black runs! I survived! They were easy to carve through and control because of the slush. The view of Georgian Bay was also pretty.
Georgian Bay from Blue Mountain.
We came to Canada with the expectation to just try to ski once, give it a go. Two years later we’ve bought our own boots, been to several hills and a few mountains and learned how to safely get through ice, powder (not so much) and slush! I was the kid always picked last for sports teams. I never felt bad about it; selection was a logical process based on ability and nepotism. I wasn’t a sycophant and I had no skill or desire. Today I skied down three double black slopes. Admittedly I started horizontally but then pulledy thumb out and just pointed my skis downhill because I knew I could do it. And I did.