Bruised Ribs and Screaming Thighs
The Wallowas got a pretty fair dump of snow over the weekend. Enough flakes piled up that any sensible person would head to Ferguson Ridge, our community ski hill, for the Sunday powderfest.
But this otherwise sensible person crashed last weekend, landing with my balled-up fist between my ribcage and unforgiving packed snow. This makes for a dull, and sometimes not-dull-at-all, pain in the rib region. Not a big deal as long as you aren’t, say, hanging sheetrock in your attic the next day, lifting heavy sheets above your head.
So I’ve been hanging sheetrock in my attic since the crash. My ribs don’t think much of this plan. I’ve been unconsciously rubbing my left boob all week, trying to coax it into not paining me anymore. It has raised eyebrows and caused some people to walk away at a brisk pace.
I considered not being there for the powder day. Injured list and all that. But I was scheduled for a work day with the ski club and couldn’t miss that. I loaded folks onto the T-bar, which involves reaching up and pulling the T’s down, in a motion that passes directly through the ribs.
But I did get plenty of chances to take a break and make runs through the powder, which is where snowboarding shines, in my opinion. Years back I was trying out snowboarding, but leaning toward switching my party affiliation back to skis, when I happened into a powder day and … well, it’s a lot like steelhead fishing. It’s fun and all but you start thinking of other things you could be doing. Like not freezing. Until you latch into one of those underwater locomotives and say to yourself, “Ooooohhh, so this is why people do this. I get it.”
That’s what my first patch of powder on a snowboard did for me. “Aaaaahhhh, I see. Yes, yes … this floating sensation is extraordinary. I must do more of this.”
But I could barely hear myself talking to myself on Sunday over the shrill noise coming from the thigh region of my right leg. Riding a board through deep snow requires keeping your weight back so the nose of your board doesn’t dive and cause a tumble. That’s fine for short spells, but I was following Morgan down routes he knew of through the trees, and these avenues were just constant fields of untracked, deep, heavy powder until my right leg finally burst into flame. Ruined a good pair of snowpants.
As I was sprawled out in the snow, mopping up the blaze, it occurred to me that Morgan really is exceptionally good at what he does. Don’t tell him I said that, I have to work with him all rafting season and if he hears I ever complimented him, he’ll expect more.
But he is a great guide. Any time you go skiing, somebody will say, “Follow me. I know a spot where there’s still untracked powder.” And you do, and there is powder, but it’s tracked, and that’s fine.
But this stuff Mojo was taking us to was absolutely clean. And it wasn’t through a thick maze of trees and brush. It was near enough to runs I’d been down before, but he’d explored around and remembered and has his secret spots that he’s willing to share and that’s just what it’s like in Hells Canyon, or on the Grande Ronde, or lower Salmon. Sandy beaches tucked away that you wouldn’t know were there. Alternate runs through rapids that are either safer or more fun at different river levels. Which boulders to jump off and which to avoid.
And thigh-scorching powder trails on days when Fergi gets blessed with a deep blanket of pow.
Again, don’t tell Mr. Jenkins I said any of this. He’ll make some smug comment like: “Thanks. Glad you had fun.” And he just gets unbearable when he’s like that.
I’ve got to get back to hanging sheetrock. It’s taking longer than I expected, what with limping on my right leg and trying not to use my left arm so much. I should call Morgan and ask if he wants to be the lead guide on a fun expedition to remodel my upstairs.