The weather forecast said there would be some rain this morning. “Perhaps it would be better at the higher parts of the mountain”, or so we thought.
We have been staying at the lower altitudes over the past 2 days and this was the first day we are taking the Goryu gondola all the way up. As we ascended, there was light rain and quite a number of people on the slopes. Slowly, they shrunk into ant-sized dots as the gondola floated up towards the summit.
Getting off, we dashed towards the slope but soon realized it was raining here as well, even though the forecast said “light snow”. It didnt help that by this time, the terrain turned very flat so I had to unstrap a boot and skateboard bit by bit across the long stretch. The passages here are significantly narrower so I was afraid to really go for speed.
Going on my heels, I braked all the way down to the chair lifts. Twice I had to pause and sit down as my legs were just so tired from the consistent braking. By now, the rain had gotten heavier even up here and I can see the water seeping more and more into my waterproof jacket and pants. Aikes, not good at all!
Finally I reached the chair lift! I am half happy that I can rest, but half sad as the rain is still pelting down on this long journey. Sitting on the exposed chair lift while being drenched in the relentless rain felt miserable indeed! Had to summon all my internal sunshine to warm myself up.
Finally, we had to snowboard down another stretch before we could reach the gondola plaza which housed a very very welcoming restaurant. Thank goodness!
When we got in there, everyone around us looked soaked and cold and miserable, just like us. I felt better already, among my fellow sufferers!
We got ourselves some butter chicken curry rice to reward ourselves for being troopers. Mmm, excellent for a cold rainy day!
After sitting for an hour, the rain hasn’t stopped. I ordered a hot chocolate as Kenneth looked at me and said, “I think I want to go down the mountain!” Yikes. I am staying here with my hot chocolate. I wished him luck and secretly was a little afraid for his safety.
He returned earlier than expected, soaking wet. “It was good!” He grinned at me through his wet glasses.
After resting for a while more, he went down the mountain again as I comfortably sat in the gondola. We actually reached the bottom at around the same time. By now, the rain has gotten bigger.
He was drenched again so I went to the nearby lift to do my first proper run before meeting him again.
I am always afraid of the chair lifts. I have too many bad memories of falling all over the place when getting off them. I remember once even being unceremoniously dragged by the operator as I was in danger of getting hit by the next chair and occupants. That totally scarred my fragile little heart for years!
This trip I resolved to try to elegantly get off the chair lifts and at Hakuba, the operators are really the friendliest and happiest I have ever met. The operator at the iimori 1st chair lift is my favorite. He recognized me from one of my dramatic falls and subsequently he would step out of his room each time to give me his hand so that I can glide away to safety. Today, he allowed me to do it myself but I was too close to the chair lift so he had to push it away from me. The next run, I did it all by myself and he actually gave me a thumbs up! He is a good man:)
I attempted the toomi sky four lift and I am so happy that finally I managed to link my turns here! For the past 2 days, I had found the gradient too steep but today I managed to unlock another layer of achievement. Yes!!
On the last run, it was still raining and our jackets and gloves were soaking wet. We didn’t love that the cold wind was still blowing rain at us on the exposed lift. I felt like a soldier marching to war. Braving the cold and rain just so I can practice more!
It paid off as I now managed to do the kick back motion which means I’m one step closer to gliding down the mountain elegantly as the more pro boarders do. I surprised myself with the progress today in spite of the weather conditions. This goes to show that with anything in life, practice really makes perfect and even an uncoordinated noob like me can one day level up beyond my own imagined capabilities. I am deeply encouraged by myself! 😀
This is also good training for the Oxfam trailwalker as there may be rain in may and we may have to hike in cold and wet clothes too.
Happy day it is. Rain or shine!