Ski Day #3 had been great, but because in the last hour or so I'd fallen into exhaustion (and just plain fallen -- a bunch), I pushed for us to go out just one last time the next day. It would be a short day, I said. Just a couple of hours for me to end things on a high note, and we'd be done with the slopes around lunch.
It ended up being our second longest day of the trip.
We started with a couple of familiar trails, then decided to cross over to the west side of the mountain and try my first black run (officially marked as such). It was a really short one, a little pass from one wide trail to another, but I could cross it off and say I'd done it. And mostly, I did. It was a series of tightly packed moguls, but not too steep. I fell near the end of it and struggled to get back on track, but my husband offered some encouragement: "Just get through this last little bit, and it's just easy blues from here."
He was being absolutely sincere, but he was also completely wrong. We'd either missed a turn, or hadn't quite known where we were to start with or something, but we emerged staring down a steep descent. Later, I'd find out this was Cyclone, another black trail. Still, I was game to try it. Sure, I didn't really have a choice, but this was really wide, mogul-free, groomed, and with no one else actually on it. I'd use every inch of the trail curving back and forth, but I'd get down eventually. And with only a couple of short falls I was able to bounce back from, I did.
That felt like accomplishment enough for the day, and I started to think it was time to pack it in. But as we worked our way through the series of trails and lifts that would eventually get us back to the central gondola, we came upon the rest of our friends who'd been out doing their own thing. (Steamboat's handy iPhone app actually helped us figure out they were in our area.)
So then the stop for lunch that might have ended the day turned out only to be an intermission. We went back out with the part of the rest of the group for a handful more runs. Feeling a bit tired and knowing what that had led to for me the day before, I lagged well behind the fearless kids who often sped out ahead, but I let all the experienced skiers watch and keep up with them. There was one funny (and slightly embarrassing) moment where I wound up unintentionally backwards right as we were passing a professional photographer positioned on the trail, but otherwise the afternoon went well enough.
And that was it for the skiing this trip (and, I think, this season). I'm already looking forward to next year, and hoping my abilities don't regress too far over the summer. Maybe it'll be like riding a bicycle.