Saturday, January 2, 2010

Taos Ski Trip - version 2009.1

Among all the ski areas at New Mexico, Taos Ski Valley, which is about 700 miles from DFW, is our favorite. Ever since we moved to DFW area, we go to Taos for Skiing every year even though it takes about 12 hour drive to reach Taos, and return trip is treacherous from time to time.

Taos Ski Valley is located within Carson National Forests. Towering rocky mountains, perennial pine trees, running stream make the area very beautiful, especially in sunny days. It has almost half of its trails for beginning and intermediate level skiers. Several trails provide long runs and large vertical drops which make the downhill skiing extremely thrilling and pleasant.

This year we went to Taos on Saturday morning, the day after the school was over for winter holidays, with Justin's friend Steve and his family. The trip to Taos was uneventful. The four boys Justin, Nicholas, Steve and Kevin, alternated between watching TV, playing gameboys, chatting and playing games, actually enjoyed the ride. We arrived at Taos at 6pm local time.

The first day at Taos Ski Valley, Steve and his brother Kevin went to Ski School, their dad took ski lessons for adult. Our whole family can ski already. Allan and Justin are at blue/black level. Lily and Nicholas are at green level, they could ski well at the novice slops last year but they had not been to the trails in the mountains yet. Nicholas was all pumped up for going up to the mountains - to ski white feather trail, and honey suckle trails. He had everything figured out himself - practice at novice slops the first day, then go up into mountains the next two days, and play with Kevin in between. His mom was not so sure.

While the rest of our group stayed at the novice slops, Justin and I went up the mountains a few times to enjoy the smooth long downhill runs. In addition to skiing, we did something different this year, we hiked to west basin ridge and highline ridge near Kachina peak from the top of lift #2. Despite the fact that we carried only poles with us, the hike to the ridges was not easy. The steep slope, the deep snow and the high elevation made us breathless. We had to take frequent stops, and let expert skiers who carried their heavy skis with them to pass us. We finally reached west basin ridge - it was worth every bit of efforts we made - the view was spectacular! We were on top of the world!! Justin was exhausted from the climb, partly due to a cold he had the previous days, he did not want to climb further. I continued to a small peak along the highline ridge - the view was even more awesome, surrounding snow-covered mountains were under my feet, Kachina peak was at eye level to the east with blue sky in the back, and Taos valley to the west, under the orange winter Sun. I was itching to go all the way to Kachina peak, the crown jewel of Taos Ski Valley. Unfortunately the path to the peak was closed. So I stayed around for a few more minutes talking to expert skiers and taking more pictures.

The second day, Nicholas went up into mountains with me. He was surprisingly confident and capable - he was not daunted by occasional narrow steep slope along white feather trail at all, and did not fall during his first run in the mountain. He enjoyed the run so much, he asked me to take him to Porcupine - a blue level trail. I took him there - he did pretty well again - fell at the steepest section once. In the afternoon, Justin, Nicholas and I went to Honey Suckle trail, the highest and longest green trail - it took ~ 15 minutes for Justin to reach base, and 29 minutes for Nicholas. The trail surface condition was not as good as it was in the morning, more snow pile ups, Nicholas fell a few times during the run. In between our runs in the mountains, Justin helped Steve, Nicholas helped Kevin and I helped Lily and Steve's dad to improve skiing skills. At the end of the day, per my assessment, Lily and Steve were ready to go up mountains. Justin was delighted that Steve decided to go up. Lily was still not very confident despite finding her feel of control in skiing, she thought that it was not worth it to pay 250% lift ticket price for possibly only one run in the mountains. I assured her that she was more than capable to ski in the mountains and that money could buy satisfaction this time.

On the third morning, it was snowing lightly, our whole family went up the mountains to ski together for the first time ever. Steve was very cautious, he wanted to practice a few more times at novice slopes before going up. Once reaching the top of lift #1, Justin and Nicholas took off quickly on white feather trail. Lily followed them gingerly; she managed the initial slope well, and gained a lot confidence. The next slope was steeper after the first turn, she handled it well - one fall and get-up on her own. The rest of the way was no more daunting. The feel of on top of a mountain, the thrill of downhill speed, the control of her destiny during skiing all excited her. When we reached the base, Lily wanted to go up again!! The boys were no-where to see, they went to novice slope to relax and have some casual fun. So we two went up again by ourselves. Lily was so pleased and satisfied with the experience that she awarded me a kiss on the lift.

In the afternoon, our family and Steve went up the mountains together, first time white feather, then we went to the so called back side trails via lift#4. It was cold with blowing snow. Right before we reached lift#4, Nicholas realized that he lost one lens on his glasses. I would like to take him back to base but he insisted on continuing. The top of lift #4 is right at the foot of Kachina Peak, it is gorgeous there and the skiing condition was much better than front side since there were less skiers here. The run to the base was fantastic!

We were considering changing skiing location for next year before we went to Taos. Now we changed our minds: We would like to explore the backside trails more, we would like to have some more fun on the blue trails in addition to green trails, we would like to climb to Kachina Peak. We will continue our annual ski trip to Taos Ski Valley.

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