The first time you ski or snowboard each season is special.
And on Nov. 18 at Wolf Creek Ski Area, it was extra-special, with a foot of snow from the previous day's storm, plenty of open terrain, bluebird skies and no crowds. My skis hadn't touched snow since Arapahoe Basin got their mid-May dump and I could barely contain my anticipation. Slopes that had been covered with unforgiving rocks and grass were now draped in delightful powder. I'd spend my summer hiking and biking in the Rockies, but once there's a lift to take you up and snow to whisk you down, the mountains attain a new majesty.
Was it me or was the lift running WAY too slowly for my powder ambitions?
But by 11:30 that morning I was done. Toast. Legs burning because I didn't do enough of the right exercises this summer. Mouth dry like sandpaper because I forgot to bring water. Face burning red because I didn't put on sunblock.
Of course, I was back in line for first chair the next morning to get the leftovers, no worse for wear, but why does it seem like I have such a steep learning curve each fall? I'm not talking about the actual skiing - that's the easy part - but the many little things that go into a great day on the slopes.
So to help you avoid my pitfalls, and to write these down so I hopefully remember them, here are some small yet vital lessons to keep in mind as you reacquaint yourself with skiing and snowboarding.