My Dreams of Vail

My Dreams of Vail

I have a number of recurring skiing dreams, all of which start happening around this time of year. The best involves me skiing down and disconnecting from the snow and pulling every vintage air trick in the book.

In this Air Master mode I can do it all: daffies, twisties, spread-eagles, insane back-scratchers, the whole classic 80's catalog, one after another, flying endlessly through the air and only occasionally—very occasionally—bothering to touch down and check back in with the Earth.

But there is another recurring dream I have which is not nearly so delightful: my dream of skiing Vail.

I should say I love Vail: it is maybe my favorite place on Earth to ski—or perhaps I should say it was my favorite place to ski, since I haven't been there in many, many years. The Vail in my dreams probably doesn't even exist anymore, but those few trips I took as a kid to Vail made such a big impression I've been dreaming about the place ever since.

My Vail dreams always follow the same pattern. The dream starts with me arriving at Vail, overwhelmed with joy to be back after so many years away. I just have to get my lift ticket first. Only there's a problem with my credit card. Or maybe I'm at the wrong window. Or maybe I get to the chair lift and I'm about to board but I realize I've left my skis in the car.

Sometimes I actually make it on the chairlift, and I'm riding up just looking at all those gorgeous runs waiting to be skied and I get to the top and I WAKE UP!

Over and over again, over the years, I have this dream. Last night I had it again, but with a new twist: this time, I arrived at Vail with my son, and in addition to being giddy with delight myself, I was telling my son about all the awesome runs we were about to ski.

In fact, as I was telling him about this, we were watching ski patrollers dropping into the back bowls, which were all covered in untracked powder, and getting ready to drop the ropes for opening.

Somehow we started around Eagle's Nest, and I suggested we drop into Game Creek Bowl to shortcut to the back bowls. So we took a catwalk...and suddenly we were in a giant Vail indoor kiddie video arcade.

No problem, I told my son. We'll just cut over to the Northwoods Express, so we ducked onto a trail leading into the woods...and we ended up trapped at the start of a huge fricken' Vail winter water park!

This was crazy—it was like a massive water slide wrapping around kid-themed obstacles, with intermittent pools and waterfalls in the way that you couldn't avoid so you'd get soaked as you went down.

Now, I have to question Vail resorts' judgement in putting a water park in the middle of their mountain in winter.

It was cold. I was in my ski gear. I didn't want to get wet. I did my best to scootch to the sides of the water slide to stay as dry as possible, but I still got soaked. My poor son got drenched—I don't think he was even trying to avoid the waterfalls!

We made it to the bottom of the water park, and thankfully there was a stack of trail maps so I could figure out how to get to the slopes. I opened one up, and it was just a huge map of unmarked trails with no words on it. It was no help at all.

I saw what looked like an escalator heading down and a lady on crutches near the top who was struggling to get her kids plus all their ski gear onto the escalator.

Please, I asked her, how do I get to the runs? Her kids were circling us impatiently. You can follow me, she said wearily. But when she tried to get on the escalator, all she was able to do was poke me repeatedly with her crutches.

And then I woke up.

— November 15, 2019

Andy Lewicky is the author and creator of SierraDescents

Brad Brown November 23, 2019 at 8:22 pm

In Feb 1997 I thought I was dreaming. 10 degrees, a foot of new, with my then 15 year old son in tow. We headed to the back bowls and I believe to the very Eagles Nest you mentioned. Mind you I've been coaching Tim since he was 2, he was already solid but So Cal hadn't offered the training opportunities for the next level pow experience. He did reasonably well the first run or 2 as we worked east, not quite getting the TURN just yet. Then came THE run. I scouted down the pitch and got to a little perch about 1/3 down. I stopped, what have I gotten my son into? To me it looked like a party but visions of ski patrol danced in my head as I scoped the expert line below. About the time I was going to wave him off and look for a climb out, here he comes. Instead of gripped survival skiing, Tim ripped movie star turns, tight, controlled, perfect fall line arcs, hands forward, weight even, chest down hill, focus ahead...everything we had ever talked about emerged in the most glorious run of my life. When he hit the run out he button hooked a turn, stopped, fist punches the air and hoots the hoot that all pow skiers know. This was his advancement to skiing graduate school. Yeah a father and a skiers dream come true! Fast forward, 2 seasons ago we added my grandson, all of us skiing same hill-another ski dream come true. Love this sport and having my boys chase me, er me chase them.

SS reports 6" and making new, projected (limited) opening on Thanksgiving, with a potentially great early season storm rolling in at the same time. We may be in business locally by this weekend! MM may get dumped by this next event! Pray for snow.