Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Til Tuesday: Skiing Falls Creek August 2009

Went up to Falls on Saturday August 8th 2009 til Tuesday 11th Aug. Again!!!! The weather was brilliant for the weekend - unlike the previous. We had clear skies, no wind, and it wasn't that cold. It looked positively FANTASTIC!!!!

But we had reached Falls at 4.30pm too late to ski. In the past we would have journeyed to Falls in the wee hours of early morning and reached there at least in time for the afternoon session, alas, those crazy days are behind us.

My friend Joy got us superb accommodations at Gabis right next to Gulley, the main ski lift!!! We were literally right on the door step of the skiing slopes!!! She's amazing that girl, she always gets excellent places to stay where we travel.

Anyways!!!! I was so excited I woke up super early on Sunday. 5.30am. It was like - Boiiing!!! All systems go!!!

With nothing to do at 5.30am, I decided to bake date scones. Unfortunately, all the chopping and pitting of the scones woke up my sleepy friends who did not share my enthusiasm.

Baking stuff - I used 2.5 cups of self raising flour and .5 cup of ordinary flour. The ratio was right on - not too fluffy. However, this time around I added the dates during the mixing process which led to some of the flour sticking to the dried fruit and not dissolving. So memo to self - add dates after the dough process.

I didn't wait for my friends to get ready. I left as soon as I could. It was a sin not to ski when the weather was this perfect; memories of the previous trip when poor weather ruined the skiing still burnt bright in me.

The snow was solidly packed, in some areas it was like concrete. I had some trouble getting my rented skis to bite into the hard snow. Half the time I was sliding down the mountain like a snowboarder. But it was my technique at fault, which I worked out, during a discussion on a chair lift with a friendly expert skier.

Thats one of the nice things about skiing - you make pleasant short conversations with total strangerson that slow chair ride. No cute snow bunnies to chat up though. Pity... :)

My parallel skiing improved that day. I mean really skiing, not snow plowing or doing some stupid crappy technique skiing. Like all sports, practice is crucial. But due to the very short ski season we have in Australia + the heniously expensive prices - its tough to get sufficient practice to be that good.

Practice Practice Practice. That's why I'm quite eager to get going at the start of the day, esp. when the weather is super good. It really is a sin not to ski when the weather and snow conditions are super excellent.

That and the fact that the ski trips in Australia are not cheap. Accommodation and food is at least $100 a day. The lift passes are another $100 (or precisely $97.20) Then the rental of the gear comes to $50 a day (when you hire on the mountain). And we haven't even factored in the petrol and mountain passes for the cars yet... Anyways, its only snow season for a few weeks in a year and its not often I go anyhow.

SO!! We had great weather on Sunday. No wind. Clear visibility. I skiied like a pony on a carousel. Up and down. Often I didn't stop but skied straight into the lift area - and rode the lift up to repeat.

Listening to music on my MP3 player relaxed me, esp. Amii Mann's slow enchanting voice and helped me2 focus on my skiing techniques.

But if it wasn't the weather, it had to be something else to spoil the day's fun. The mountain lost total power on Sunday right after lunch. Apparently a falling tree took out the power lines. Electricity wasn't restored until late in the evening, which ended skiing that day. I wish I hadn't stopped for lunch but whose to know?

The next day I woke up early again. This time I took pains to avoid doing anything noisy. I was sleeping in the lounge room as I snore rather loudly. A sofa bed was provided but I preferred sleeping with my legs up on a small couch - I think I got better lower back support that way.

My friends were still having breakfast when I made my way to "Ruin Castle" - the western ski slope at Falls. Wide open runs, relatively soft fresh snow and a fast steep lower descent makes this place excellent for intermediates.

A few stupid parents brought their 8 year old kids up here to practice. I made good use of my vocal cords to tell one foolish mommy off. They should be on the green slopes - not here! They make it dangerous for everyone. A few years back I got struck in the back by one out of control kid skier - cost me $900 in physio.

I was out on my own again. All my friends were doing the lower slopes. I skied non-stop, only halting when a blizzard hit the mountain at mid morning.

No sense to ski then. Even if you're well covered, water finds its way inside. Ice covers your face, then it melts and trickles down inside. When you're wet, you freeze. I munched on cakes and drank tea at the sheltered hut whilst watching the folks on the lifts being pelted by the snow.

I chose not to eat anything substantial. No chips, no hamburgers, not even a sandwich, just hot tea and my sister's rock cakes. That way I could just keep on skiing without stopping for too long. A small thin sandwich would have been nice though.

I drank a whole flask of hot tea that day. About 2 litres. Peeing on the snow in sub-zero temperatures and drawing your name in the fresh snow is a refreshing experience. :)

When the blizzard stopped at about 1 pm I went skiing. By this time mostly everyone had gone inside for lunch or to get the ice off their faces. Fresh lovely snow and no one around, excellent! I skied round and round - doing "sundown", "ruin castle", "scottys" and corkscrew. I must have clocked the most number of ski runs ever. My newly modified ski boots, moded 3 times so far, performed superbly. No pain.

At 4.05pm, the top lift operator told me three times "Last run mate" but I kept on going as the lower lift operators kept the lifts operating. Maybe I'm skiing too fast or something but I did three runs by 4.20. I caught the last lift to "Scottys" then headed to Village skiing all the way. It was tricky doing "Final Muster" carrying my lunch grab bag. The strap was broken so I had to carry it in my arms like a baby. But I made it to the apartment in one piece without falling.

I cooked spaghetti bolognesse for dinner with a variation - frying red padi chilli and jalpeno peppers together with the mince. I didn't like it - the chilli blended in with the meat blunting its distinct sharpness whilst giving the sauce a vague spicy flavor. I also forgot to put in the garlic... Luckily my friends liked it and it tasted much better the next morning after allowing the cold spagetti to soak in the sauce overnight.

Tuesday the last day. Rain had swept the snow off the roofs - not a good sign. It looked wet and soggy. The snow report predicted thunderstorms. I threw in the towel and returned my skis at 8am. Unfortunately, no refund. But better than spending an extra $97 for the lift pass which I wouldn't fully use anyway.

After taking nice long hot showers and taking a super long breakfast, we finished off the bacon supplies with the left over spagetti. Then we ambled to the cars to store our gear, and spent the morning at the bar - the Slacker party.

I drank some lager and ale which tasted very nice in the cold winter mountain air. I wish they had Amber Ale on tap - but no luck.

One of our group decided to try her luck and went skiing that day, despite the weather. Initially I regretted handing my skis so early; there were spots of sunshine and it seemed by mid-morning that the weather would improve.

Unfortunately it wasn't meant to be. People may have braved the cold wet weather but the lifts halted operations when the thunderstorm rolled in. I was soooo glad I didn't buy the lift ticket.

Drove down the mountains after lunch. Stopped at Laksa King at Flemington. It was packed! But the food quality wasn't great anymore. I wouldn't bother going there again. Its overrated I reckon.

Wish we had stopped instead at the Mackers on the Hume Hwy at Glenrowan. My most favourite MacDonalds place!!!!

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