This morning, I awoke to 13 inches of fresh snow and a day unburdened by responsibility, which gave me pause as I stretched and savored my warm bed. Both powder and free time are such a treat that to discover the two colliding for an entire day was a moment to honor--albeit briefly.
I met a friend at the gondola in Telluride, Colorado, where we plotted a sneaky strategy to avoid the other powder hounds at the resort. Our plan worked perfectly, and I could tell you about the untracked turns on Giant Steps or the beautiful cloud that descended upon us as we drifted down Mammoth, but powder skiing is far more fun to experience than write (or read) about. Which leads me to wonder: What's more fun than powder skiing? Seriously, let's come up with a list. Those of you who don't ski can twiddle your thumbs now and look pretty because I'm soliciting responses only from actual snowboarders and skiers, people who know the sensation of dipping into piles of unadulterated fluff.
I propose a few ground rules: Let's keep it PG13, legal and real--meaning no sex, drugs or fantasy. So, within those tight parameters, what is truly more fun than powder skiing?
- Helicopter skiing--sure, call it a gimme or cheating, but it's got a legitimate edge over a standard day on the slopes. For a strictly over-the-top definition of something better than plain old powder, all you need to add is a helicopter and the top-of-the-world views that accompany the skiing.
- Pinnacle moments in other outdoor sports compete with powder skiing: surfing the perfect wave in warm water, skating on freshly groomed Nordic trails, mountain biking for miles on rolling single track, crushing the perfect set in volleyball and so on. That list could be endless.
- A perfect meal might eclipse powder skiing, but I'm talking only about the menu you would order as your last on death row--sans prison garb, shackles and impending doom, of course. And I must insist upon adding convivial conversation with dear friends and a few silky bottles of red to up the ante.
- My friends who have children would no doubt mention something about a day when the kids behave like perfect angels--but that's unacceptable because it clearly breaks the "no fantasy" rule.
- On a sweltering day, that first sip from a cold drink--when both the glass and you are sweating--is a worthy pleasure. The fact that it's so fleeting makes it all the sweeter.
- Driving with the top down in a fast convertible on a country road in the summer is a thrill. Crank the stereo and memories of powder skiing melt away entirely.
- How about recognition for a job well done? Praise--or, even better, deserved financial reward--is gratifying, tough to beat and, unlike skiing, makes me feel a few inches taller.
What else? I thought about sitting by a crackling fire in a comfortable armchair with a good book, but honestly, I'd rather go powder skiing. I considered spa treatments or winning the lottery, but I have little experience in those realms (and I'm a stickler for the rules). I'm missing many obvious joys on my list, but after bounding around on my boards so happily all day, it's hard to imagine anything better. It would be easier to count the ways I love powder skiing, but maybe it's important to take a moment to laud the other sublime moments in life--no matter how subtle--that produce the infectious smile, create an endorphin high or make us feel oh so good.