February 12, 2016

Sunrise Ski Day!!

Three years?!? Sadly, yes. It's been three seasons I let my skis hang on the garage wall collecting dust. It was time, boy was it time. I made the call to an old skiing buddy, Brian, who also happens to have Fridays free.

The alarm went off early, but I was eager to get to the mountains. I picked up Brian and we were on our way northeast of the Valley to Sunrise Ski Park in the White Mountains of AZ. It was a good sign when snow began to appear shortly after Payson. By the time we passed the Hon-Dah casino outside of Pinetop the ground was blanketed white.
Bluebird skies on a cool, but pleasant morning.
Friday's don't typically drive the crowds, even on a holiday weekend and our 9:30a arrival found us a good parking spot. We got our gear on and made our way to the snow. That's when I realized I forgot my phone in the car. I was making my way through the icy parking lot when my ski boots began sliding forward...uh oh. In an instant my heels went out from under me and I was going down on a sheet of ice. In that split second I contorted my backside enough to avoid smacking my tailbone. Somehow I also managed to not put the full brunt force on my repaired wrist, whew! Close call, but all was well. Now, where's that darn phone!!
The snow was hard-packed early, then softened up quickly as the temps rose.
On an empty day Sunrise Mtn. makes great laps with the high speed quad chair. I knew it would take a couple of runs to shake the dust off my legs as well as the skis.
It was so clear up top, Humphrey's Peak is visible on the horizon.
Another bonus: No wind.
Brian commented after our first run down that I looked like I didn't miss a beat. While my form may have looked ok, it sure didn't feel quite right. I wasn't trusting my edges yet. By the third run down, everything felt fine. It was time to rip, in spite of what my quads were telling me.

We did a bunch of laps on Sunrise, then made our way over to Apache Peak, but what's this?? A new trail? It wasn't on the trailmap either: Superstition Glade. Not only was this a new trail, but a 'gladed' (through the trees) one!! Holy cow, Sunrise just may be getting with the times a bit. Ok, the trail wasn't really gladed all that much, but there were a few trees to negotiate. Either way, it was a nice addition and a fun way to access Apache Peak without having to go all the way down to the lower chairlift.
Superstition 'Glade'. See, there are trees up top!!
More from the 'Glade' looking toward Cyclone.
We did a few laps on Apache, which was virtually empty. We saw they added a small terrain park and banked slopestyle run on a couple of the trails. We really wanted to hit some of the double black runs on Cyclone, but that chairlift blows and the snow probably wasn't too good for the ultra steep stuff, so we stayed away.

We took as much speed as we could muster back over towards Sunrise. It was funny because the trail was half shaded. Each time we skied through the sun, our skis slowed a bit, then regained speed in the shady areas. Our legs were loving it!!
Scooby, Tigger, Eeyore & the Fat Lady were making some turns.
After lunch we still had a couple hours left and wanted to make sure we hit every trail on Sunrise and one more run down the slopestyle course on Apache. This time we accessed the mountain via Quakie, a trail that had always been off limits due to closure. It's now back in business.
We ditched our jackets & gloves for the afternoon session.
Brian carving some turns.
At the end of the day, my only fall was in the parking lot!! I also was reminded why I need new ski boots. Each time I launched, ok, skied over with a little bit of air, off a terrain park jump, my toes would cram into the front of the boot. I probably lost yet another big toenail in the process. It doesn't phase me anymore, just gets old.

It was great to hang out and ski with Brian again. I definitely need to carve out more time each winter to play on the white stuff. For now, this will have to do.

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