My chaotic Lake Tahoe skiing experience

December 5, 2022 — by Howard Shu
Photo by Howard Shu
My trip included pleasant scenery of Lake Tahoe and the surrounding mountains, smothering my head with winter gear and the greatest TV I have ever seen.
Skiing at Sierra-at-Tahoe and playing card games with my family made some of my most valued memories.

As I walked down a Redwood Middle School hallway during my eighth grade winter finals week, the windy 50-degree Fahrenheit weather numbed my face, making me shudder while amplifying my uneasiness for my Geometry final the next day — which the class agreed to call “judgment day.”

My family’s upcoming skiing trip to Lake Tahoe was the one sliver of hope that carried me throughout the days — probably along with the relief of sitting down with a peace of mind to play Fortnite when I get home. Just four more days until freedom is mine, I thought.

Anyway, I made it through the last stretch before my eighth-grade winter break and I could finally experience the Lake Tahoe trip I had been visualizing in my head during the last week of school.

The first night we spent at our cabin, I had a snowball fight with my older sister, lost miserably in a card game with my family, found out there was good enough internet connection to play Fortnite and slipped on the icy outdoor stairs — a frenzied start obligatory for a memorable trip.

Over the next few days, my family and I spent our time coasting down the slopes of Sierra-at-Tahoe. We went to a trail called Sugar N’ Spice, a green (easy) path, which we repeatedly went on.  With no risk of tumbling down a steep hill, Sugar N’ Spice starts from the top of the mountain, meaning usually over 10 uninterrupted minutes of gazing at the sweet scenery and gliding down wide, smooth slopes at a spicy speed. 

The extended amount of time on easy slopes gave me a false sense of security. Thinking I was good at skiing, my dad accidentally brought me to a blue (intermediate) trail and I desperately made the “pizza” orientation with my skis, trying my best to avoid crashing down the hill.

Another path I enjoyed was the Wagon Trail on the back side of the resort. It had a secluded feel and some short, fun drops, but most importantly, it was a cornerstone to my agenda of arguing why skiing was better than snowboarding — my sister suffered on the trail’s flat parts with a snowboard, but she ultimately did not convert to skiing.

Better yet, I never ran into a children’s skiing class marching straight through trails like I did at Diamond Peak Ski Resort a few years back — when I just barely avoided sending a child flying. At Sierra, I did not run into risks of being the target of a lawsuit.

In fact, I didn’t fall that much to my surprise with the exception of getting off the lift. I would laugh at people failing to complete tricks on a ramp from the lift, knowing full well that I wouldn’t be brave enough to even attempt them. 

The thrill of skiing and funny moments with my family during occasional card games and picking up random chunks of ice around Lake Tahoe created a glorious and continuous joy that I hoped to maintain even after the trip ended. Sucks to suck but the happiness didn’t last for one day after getting back home: I played Wii Sports and then got food poisoning. 

Moral of the story: Have a better immune system.

Despite the abrupt ending, my experience still did have some lasting impacts. I was eager to go skiing again, and after a 3-year hiatus due to the pandemic, I will finally go again this winter break or February break. The long wait has made me overconfident that I can somehow tackle blue slopes when I return. Though I make fun of my eighth-grade self for dumb judgments, I still might not be much better.

Above all other effects, however, the sneakers I bought from Costco on the drive to Lake Tahoe had the most pervasive and lasting influence on my life. I still wear them to this day.

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