I’m living the reality of the ironic “Ski Dubai” t-shirt. I just skied in the desert.
Will, the Air Force flight surgeon, wandered into my office one day and said to me
“You want these ski/snowshoe things? I’m moving to Hawaii. No snow there.”
Antarctica to Hawaii. Military life.
The “ski/snowshoe things” he was referring to are cheap plastic contraptions that blend skis and snowshoes. They clock in at about two and a half feet long with snowboard style boot attachments. He had two sets, which is perfect because now that winter has set in, we are not allowed to venture off station solo. A week or so later, PF and I decided to do the Castle Rock loop again. We met in the clinic and he spied them sitting next to my desk and inquired. I suggested we give them a shot. I had put no effort into figuring how they worked or if they worked for that matter. The middle section folded out like wings to allow for the attachment of crampons to the center, under foot. They required the attachment of crampons to stay open. The crampons just wedged in. Not exactly the pinnacle of snow sport design but, we decided to give them a shot all the same.
About 30 minutes into the hike, just as we hit the snow and ice, we decided to try our new toys out. We probably should have put more time into figuring out how to use them while we were inside. Not outside in the freezing cold. PFs boots were far too small – drastic lateral foot movements provided no movement of the skis. I was missing a crampon and some of the straps broke as they were well rusted. So we were both at a bit of a disadvantage. Nevertheless, we sallied forth with a laugh, numb fingers and a mild sense of trepidation. It was that feeling that things would probably be fine, but if injury ensued, no one would’ve been surprised. It was one of those moments when your responsible friend gives out a long sigh and looks at you disapprovingly, perhaps with a shake of his head, but doesn’t quite disapprove enough to actually try and put an end to the shenanigans. Eventually, we came to the back side of the hill, the downhill side. Uphill in these things was a total failure Without functioning crampons, we had been trying to go uphill in “ski” mode. Didn’t work so hot. Let’s see how downhill works. PF couldn’t really turn. He went wherever gravity felt inclined to take him. Braking happened by falling over. Since my boots were bigger, mine had some maneuverability, as long as I didn’t try to lift up my left foot. The straps were broken and my foot would come right off. But, we managed 200 ft sections at a time. Until we got the steeper stuff. PF had the ingenious idea to sit on one instead. Steering was again an afterthought, but it worked like a charm. Snow spraying in my face added lack of visibility to lack of steering. Physics, however, is quite reliable and I knew what direction I was headed. Down. There was a great, big, flat expanse at the end, so I wasn’t too concerned. We made it. From there it was a casual slog back to our station, up a cold, dusty hill.
To top it off, on the hike back, we passed by the Kiwi base. Along the road, at the transition from ice to volcanic ash, was a cluster of seals. The seals were so lazy, we actually thought one was dead. Until it farted. And then looked up in our direction. I think a seal farted in my general direction.
(extra points if you caught the Monty Python reference).