Dec 31, 2015

Skiing - Mallott Style

For Christmas this year we gave the kids a ski trip. We tend to value adventures and time together over things/toys. The kids have known about this for a long time. Part of the fun is the anticipation. We left the day after Christmas - IN A SNOW STORM - and attempted to ski for 2 full days having never all actually skied together, ever. Chuck ranked the highest in our 'experience' scale being that he skied twice as a teenager in Ohio as well as a failed attempt at snowboarding with me a few years ago. Bennett went skiing once with a friend a year ago. Chloe had a ski lesson last year during a field trip. My attempt at snowboarding once was disastrous. And Gavin has never touched skis before in his life. We knew something good had to come from all this. And no, we were not about to pay for ski lessons, that would just be a waste of time (according to Chuck). Thus begins our adventure:

The lovely drive north.

After eating lunch in Grand Marais, we headed off in search of the famed Gunflint Trail. We had no idea it was also a part of the Boundary Waters. It's a beautiful 58 mile road with lots of gorgeous vistas, hiking and trekking to be had. On this fine day we were headed straight for the Moose Viewing Trail. 

As with most of our hikes, we came completely unprepared. Not one person carried a whistle in case of an emergency, or water or granola bars in case we got stranded and had to wait for a search and rescue team. Heck, we didn't even have our snow pants on and the snow was over a foot deep - up to our knees. Plus, we were the only car parked in the space we assumed was a parking lot. The snow covered any trial and signage. We walked a half mile the wrong way (we were following moose tracks such as the one Chloe's boot is next too). 

Once we got back to where we started, we saw a sign pointing in the opposite direction from where we previously "hiked".  It was so quiet and serene. We felt like we were in the woods in the Chronicles of Narnia after they walked through the wardrobe into perpetual winter.


This is the direction we were supposed to go to the Moose Viewing Trail. Unfortunately, the fallen trees were no obstacle for us. We traversed under and over in search of a moose. I was both super excited and very afraid. What if we actually saw a moose in our path?!? We didn't have a plan other than to snap a picture of it and run. I was a little relieved that we didn't see one but also very disappointed because, how cool would that have been?! We then trudged back through the snow with sopping wet jeans and boots filled with snow in search of the cabin we would be spending the next three days in.

Here was our glorious cabin. We now feel very Minnesotan. Every Minnesotan has said at one time or another that they "went up north" to spend time "at the cabin". Now we can join in that chorus.

Many a chess game was played. The night comes fast and it is so dark and quiet. We were off the grid with zero cell coverage and no internet. I felt very rustic and Little House on the Prairie-ish.

Here is Gavin cooking some brownies for everyone after a rough day of skiing.

Here we are playing a game of Scrabble at the table.

This is the guest cabin about 50 yards away from the main house. This is where Chuck and I stayed since there were only two bedrooms in the main cabin. Very cozy.

The gorgeous sunset on Pike Lake at our cabin.

We spent two hours in this little room on our very first day of skiing. We had zero clue how long it would take to get all our gear, then get it on, then try to walk with all our stuff over to the bunny slope. Except when we were here, so were like 100 other people, so it made figuring out how to put the most uncomfortable boots in the world on that much more fun. We might have gotten a little flustered.

This was the bunny slope where we all 'cut our teeth'. It was actually called "Flapjack". It was so flat. But that didn't stop us from falling all over ourselves. Chloe, Gavin and I spent the entire first day right here. I felt accomplished just figuring out how to get on the moving sidewalk without falling. Learning how to stop and steer was imperative. Since we had no instructor, trial and error were our guides. Oh ya, and the temperature on this fine day was 10 degrees but with the windchill it was registering at -2. There aren't enough feet and hand warmers in the world to keep you warm enough out here all day in these temperatures. I know.

We took the gondola to the top of the highest peak. This was a great resort. They had 95 runs - 20 of which were for beginners. We only tried out two or three runs - by "we" I mean everyone but me. See that little hill on the left, we never it made it off that "mountain". It felt like Everest when you're going down it on skis, let me tell you! We each had major wipe-outs on the different runs. After I mastered Flapjack, I moved up to Big Bunny. Don't let the name fool you, it was steep! I wiped out big time and really wanted to cry. I barely held it together. I went down it again just to prove that I wouldn't let the mountain beat me - and it didn't! Chloe wiped out huge on another slope and Daddy had to go rescue her (she was more embarrassed that I captured that on video than the actual fall). Chuck and Bennett wiped out three times on a slope they didn't mean to go on and found out it was in the 'more difficult' category. No wonder. It took Gavin a while to master getting off the ski lift standing up. He had quite an interesting dismount that involved falling over every time.

These were the views from the top of the highest peak. That's Lake Superior in the background.

It was sooooooo cold! We did what we could to stay warm. On the second day, the temps reached 15 degrees, but it was very windy thus causing it to feel more like 3. Here we were on the ski-lift. You would think I would have had a cow on the ski-lift but I wasn't scared one bit. What I had a cow about was going down hills really fast on slippery, skinny, shiny skis. I don't like fast. 

Here we were in the Chalet taking a lunch break and trying to warm up before heading back outside to torture ourselves for the next 3 hours. The saddest part of this whole trip was that Chuck was sick the entire time. He felt bad starting Christmas Eve but just thought it was a cold. He had a fever, achy muscles, headache, cough - everything. Come to find out once we got home he had Pertussis. But he skied like a champ. I actually think the skiing invigorated him.

I think we all got the 'ski bug'. However, we might like to try it in some warmer temps next time. And could somebody please work on making those horrible ski boots more comfortable?! For the love!

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