Snow Gear

So, come to find out that the bindings Joe gave me are not working for me. I can’t get them tight enough in the toe and they take forever to get in and out of. I was thinking of trying out some FLOW bindings, but I don’t know if I want to have to buy them to try them, you know? I  also feel like I need to widen the stance and move my right foot back. I feel like my feet are not quite shoulder width apart. Even though we are about the same size, Joe is a bit taller and lankier and probably has a narrower back and shoulders.

Boots, Vans, were a bit small, but I love the dial-in, lock-down boa design. They are super easy to get super tight, even to the point of cutting off circulation. Although I probably don’t need them that tight.

Goggles, Uvex’s Downhill II, were a fail. I get hot. I sweat. Sunscreen gets trapped in my eyes. They fog really bad if I stop moving. Then my glasses fog even more. They do not fit over my sunglasses. I might go back to just my sunglasses, but the Oakleys have fallen off when I’ve fallen before. That being said, the goggles seemed fine when I was skiing on a dry day when the temps were a little lower. These goggles are probably fine for cooler, partly cloudy and sunny days. They don’t work so well in low light. Also, I need sweatproof acne care and sunblock. I have yet to find a truly sweat resistant sunblock. The stick kind from Clinique or Coppertone both seemed to be the best, but I don’t think they make them anymore. Wish I could get away with contacts (yuck!), but I am considering it for sports-type stuff.

Board seems adequate for my needs. Scott USA no longer makes snowboards, but it’s decent for having been previously well-loved and is the prefect size for me. It’s fairly flexible and noodley, so with the right bindings I bet I will get rad response from it.

Gloves, also Scott USA (women’s large Soft waterproof shell) although much better than what they replaced, were not so great for snowboarding. Snow gets into the lining when I am strapping and unstrapping my board. They they get wet inside and get more difficult to take on and off. It was okay cuz it was super warm yesterday. Friday I got so hot skiing that I took them off.

The rain pants, Marmot, are no longer waterproof. If it had been cold yesterday, they would not have done me.  Cold, wet ass sounds like no fun at all. Jeremy’s, Columbia, are too small in the hips to allow a free range of motion, so I can’t just steal his. I’m kind of in between a men’s medium and large right now. I was thinking about snowpants, but I need especially long ones, and generous hips. No freaking way do they make women’s snowpants for people built like me. They also need to be lightweight and cool. It does not get cold here like in Colorado or Wisconsin. It was near 50 yesterday up on the mountain. I’ve never been out when it’s been below 25.  I need them to stay dry and block wind. That’s about all, and hence why I’ve used rain pants the last two years, but I have worn off the waterproofing and shredded the pants pretty good.

The Northface women’s large long sleeve coldgear/long underwear was great for a warm day. I’m not sure what brand my undershirt was, but it was a warm weather sweat-wicking type. The sweatwicking was great. I had my Ironclad coldgear longjohns on under the rainpants. This is a perfect set-up for days between 20-50 degrees. The Ironclad tops are not so great when it gets about 35. They have a high neck and tight cuffs and get too hot. Ironclad are the best cold-weather gear for the price, hands down, but they are going to set you back $100 for a set, unless you get lucky enough to find them on sale. They are mens’ and I take a medium, so they won’t work for the tiny folks out there. I love that the bottoms are long enough even for me. I’ve had them out skiing in Wisconsin under flannel-lined Carharts and with just a wool sweater over the top down to 10-15 degrees. They performed really well shoveling out 4 feet of super wet, sloppy, and heavy snow from the driveway last winter. A monumental task that took me four days with assistance. Perfect! They are great sweat-wicking and dry quickly, but still keep you warm even when wet, especially if you have a layer over them. My favorite for all outdoor activities in winter. They are also really warm to wear indoors when you can’t afford to heat above 60. I pretty much lived in them my last winter in Wisconsin.

Anyhow, if I want to use my own board, I’m going to have to get new bindings. I think I probably want the ratchet kind, but maybe FLOWs are worth a try. I have, what I think are small feet for my size, but do you put women’s bindings on a men’s board? What possible advantage do women’s bindings offer (other than pink and sparkles)? I have women’s boots because I have a narrow arch and small feet.

So, I am not totally in love with any of the new gear, and I’m looking to replace it all. I do however love my skis, bindings, and poles I got last year. So I’m wondering if the Fifth Season is the place to go to get me the perfect bindings for me, my boots, and my board. I got the impression that Mt. Shasta Base Camp was a better place to go for snowboarding. Then someone told me about the Sportsmens’ Den in Mt. Shasta. Never even heard of it and I lived there last winter. There’s also a board store downtown. Bottom line, I’d like some killer bindings for under $120 that I know will work for me when I get out on the mountain.

I have graduated to intermediate after my third day. My goals for the rest of this season include mastering S-turns and toe-side slide, and getting off the lift without falling. Toe- side sliding is pretty terrifying as you are facing uphill, but it’s how you learn to get your board back with your lead foot facing downhill or paralleling the slope and to do an S-turn. I am not sure why you would do this on purpose unless you were in a terrain park, but don’t take my word on it. I’m just a crazy old lady. I might have thought I invented snowboarding until I saw it on the winter Olympics and started seeing them for sale. I had this plastic piece that had come off our swing set and decided to see it I could skateboard in the snow, “snowboarding”. Pretty fun, and it made these pretty trails through the yard, leaving pristine snow. Pretty! So then, I’ve wanted to do this since I was to Keystone in 1997, but I know that I know almost nothing. Finally got my first, best chance last winter. Now, especially among the kiddos, it seems more popular than skiing. I’ve never skateboarded, surfed, or wake-boarded before, but I’m all about playing in the snow. I think it’s a better option to get down steep slopes. It’s easier to control your speed and not too tough on the knees.

How did us humans ever come up with this snowboarding thing? Skis and snowshoes make sense from just a survival in the snow perspective, but snowboarding? Humans can be amazingly ingenious at times.

I’ve tried snowshoeing. My thought was, “This is really gay. Unless I am trying to get through trees in the forest, I can go so much faster on skis!” I still think I want some because if I want to do any back country boarding, I can’t climb on my board like I can on skis. I miss the Wisconsin snow and the narrower, longer, older classic style skis I had in Wisconsin, also Fischers crown style. The narrower skis and colder snow meant I could go so much faster and get a really great glide going. I now have Fischer Snowbound Crowns and they offer a lot more stability and are great for breaking trail, wet sloppy snow, and climbing, but they just don’t have the spring, glide, or speed that my older Fischers had.

As for skiing, I’d like to be able to handle any downhills on any intermediate trail in any snow condition. Somehow, I feel I may soon be reaching a winter sports plateau. I have overcome my fear of going fast downhill because I can totally control my speed on a snowboard. Removing the fear factor has greatly improved my skiing, or maybe that was the day at Bunny Flat on crap, late season corn snow practicing downhills. For now I am content to stick to Nordic, figure skating, and boarding (besides I have no money and no room for any more gear!). Tragic as this old lady must look to other people, I have fun. Yesterday’s sunset was a perfect example of why I am in love with this area.

Next season wish list:

Better goggles or sunglasses

Figure skating lessons


New bindings for snowboard (if I don’t replace them this year)

Snowpants/ new rainpants?


Backcountry pack for snow board/snowshoes?

Joe says there is no need for a transceiver here unless you are going on steep slopes or in an avalanche run out. Someday, maybe. And a truck. You miss the best snow conditions when you only have front wheel drive and driving in snow is right up there on your list with doing dishes. Now a bullet train from Redding to Mt. Shasta with a shuttle to the nordic center and ski park would be totally awesome!


Life Happens On the Slopes

… the rest is just details and preparation.

I had another dream about snowboarding. Justin was going to come pick me up to go up the mountain. I was like, “You know, it’s been months, and I just took lessons last winter, I think I might need lessons again.”

“Don’t worry Melissa. I will do the greens with you and wait for you when you fall down. But I did break my nose my first year,” as were loading my gear into the van.

He came to pick me up at my grandparents house, but instead of it being on the Root River it was near Churn Creek or the Sacramento, in another, small river valley. This is probably because I was comparing Churn Creek to the Root River yesterday, watershed restoration always on my mind.

At my parents’ house Ralph was bringing stuff up from the basement, but the Art House basement, to be cleaned and repacked or used for Christmas. My parents’ kitchen was in my grandparents house.

I’m standing on the porch at my grandparents, looking out to the river bluff, now covered in houses, talking to some old friends. My mom calls, Justin pulls up, early. I’m like, “I have to go now!” Introductions.

Then I’m at Darkside and playing around with a television and DVD player. The block washing bleeds into this part. People are making paper characters of themselves like at preschool. I made a glue out of buttermilk but someone turned the stove on. I put it in the pantry, which was like the pantry at the Story Hill house. A couple of adults were making woven paper mats to put inside their characters.

In a time of no time, in a place that is not a place. You’d better clean your childhood blocks and have your board waxed and ready. Smart phones become A.I.s, really useful tools when your brain no longer operates in a linear fashion but many things still fall under 3D Newtonian law. Smart phones provide navigation charts.

Snowboarding and turntabling are probably the best ways to prepare for interdimensional realities. I’m kind of excited to see where we’re going, but I am content to let an old friend drive a 4WD with snow chains up the mountain while I remain a passenger. I done did all the pre-work.