Skiing was amazing, absolutely amazing. There had been fresh snow over the weekend and the mountains looked beautiful as we drove up to the resort. The snow cover was extensive but not terribly thick, wooded areas stood out as large drifts of dark green against the new whiteness, the sky a bright blue and although it was very cold there was warmth in the morning sunshine. It was easy to see the road winding up the side of the mountain to Espiaube and the chalet, I knew exactly where to look but as ever the hillside hid the buildings from view. We weren’t particularly early but the car park was deserted, probably the fact that it was a Monday had something to do with it, Vanessa and I popped into Chalet Lou Rider to say Hi to Clare and have a quick drink before changing into out ski gear and hitting the slopes. I had left my skis at the chalet at the end of last season, unable to carry any more luggage back to England and happy that someone else adopt them should I not have returned. Thankfully they were still there, unused and ready for my boots once again.
I had a moment of apprehension on the way up the mountain on the lift. Will I still be able to ski? Have I forgotten everything, it has been ages since I stood on skis, I was going to be completely rubbish and fall over straight away, for most of the journey up we discussed where we wanted to ski and tried to guess which pistes were open.
Conditions were as good as the best day I can remember from last year, I didn’t fall over and my skis remembered exactly what to do. Almost immediately I started having thoughts of why I wasn’t in a ski resort for the winter? what was I doing elsewhere when it just felt so good to be out on the snow in the sunshine? As runs disappeared under our skis and lifts whisked us back to the heights again and again I tried to contain my thoughts to the moment and embrace the immediate wonder of the day, it worked most of the time and we had a great day. Unlike last winter when we could just pop back to the chalet and the slopes were available day after day, this was a treat, something we had to make the most of. We timed it right and ate a late lunch after everyone else had finished, the choice was limited and the chips were cool when they arrived but it didn’t matter, we were on the slopes for the day and making the most of it. Vanessa’s skiing had improved since last year, she has already had a couple of lessons and her increased confidence was definitely showing now. We were able to explore areas of the resort that she hadn’t ventured to before, gently increasing that confidence and realising how much fun it all was. People has asked me back in the summer if I had been bored by the end of a whole season in the same resort, I had told them no, and now that I was back, that still stood, it was as good to be back here on the snow as it would be to have had a day on the snow else where.
The late lunch fueled us for the rest of the day, we definitely got our moneys worth and were herded off the slopes as they closed at the end of play. I could have gone on for longer so made the most of the last descent by using the slope to its max. Huge sweeping turns, traversing from one side to the other, enjoying the sun and the view and the fresh air and hoping that there would be more opportunities in the not too distant future for us to enjoy. I stopped more frequently than I had been, in order for Vanessa to catch up, the day was taking its toll, her legs had had enough and she tumbled several times on that last descent, a sure sign that it was a good time to call it a day.
Clare welcomed us back at the chalet with a good cuppa and I spent a few minutes chatting with the new team of helpXers that were there this season. It felt a little strange to be there for such a short time, but great to meet yet more welcoming , friendly helpers and get a tiny glimpse back into the life I had enjoyed so much a year ago. We left in the car, returning to the safety of the valley floor before the icy darkness fell on the mountains once again. Home was only an hour away, where a welcoming log fire and dinner awaited.