A Weekend Ski Trip in McCall, Idaho

The Mountains are Calling and I Must Go

Last weekend was a weekend filled with firsts. I went skiing in the mountainous west with my cousins in McCall, Idaho. This was also one of my first winter trips, as my family usually hunkers down and only visits family remotely near us during the holidays. I was excited to get the chance to appreciate the snow a bit more and spend it with family I don't often get to see—along with three new little munchkins running around and just beautiful, blue sky mountain views. 

Day 1: McCall & the "Little Ski Hill" 
With zero experience skiing, I was going fully prepared to experience blood, sweat, and tears—sans the tears—and test my athleticism, patience, and mental aptitude for what was a pretty successful first ski run for me! Thankfully, my cousin's husband Shane was a ski instructor and their whole family was equipped with extra gear for me so I was among the experts. As daunting as that already is knowing that they regularly ski, I knew that I wanted to make the most of the trip as much as I wanted them all to enjoy it and not have to worry about me going off the mountainside. 
Before we checked into our cozy Air BnB, we explored the quaint ski town, which reminded me a bit of the Wisconsin Dells—it definitely had a lot of tourists visiting for the weekend ahead of their annual ice festival, which I was really excited to see since I haven't seen ice sculptures in person before. We took a stroll around the frozen lake with their golden retrievers and stopped for some much needed caffeine before we hit up the first mountain of the evening. 

The Little Ski Hill (which I report is NOT little for a first time skier) was where we ended up going that night just to get me on the skis and learn the basics—little did I know I would be basically leashed down the hill, but to my cousin Rachael's point—I was not going to live up there. Only one way down! The first hurdle for me was getting adjusted to the fact that you're on a high mountain and it definitely psyched me out. I would take many, many, falls just because speeding down it was not going to be an option for me that night. Instead, Shane was patient with me and showed me the basics to turning and weight distribution...all I'm going to tell you is that I made it down that mountain. Thanks, Shane. 

Day 2: Brundage Ski Hill & Winter Tailgating
The second day was our big ski day as a family. We headed up to Brundage Mountain and from my previous day of struggling down my first mountain, I will admit I was a bit nervous considering we would be going down more similar or even harder runs. Thankfully, my cousins and I decided it would be most beneficial for me to take at least one lesson to feel more confident in my skis and also so they could go off and do their thing while I was learning on the bunny hill below. 
The hardest part for me learning to ski was understanding how weight distribution and speed work for you rather than against you. The more momentum you have, the easier it will be to curve and turn down the mountain—learning how to regulate your speed was another hurdle. You can't just pizza and french fry the whole way down. It's exhausting! So, turning was really the secret to having an effortless run. And I had to make it to the top! 

My ski instructor was patient with me and I finally had my turns down for the most part, it was just graduating to steeper hills and remembering to lift the weight off of my inside ski and using the whole width of the mountain to my advantage. When I finally regrouped with the family, we took the lift all the way to the top for what were just stellar views of the valley below and a quite relaxing road to ski down until I got to some of the more steeper slopes. Once we finally got down the mountain, my aunt met up with us for a winter tailgate and barbecue (bless Aunt Laura!)...and much needed beers. We ended the night with rejoining with more family that met up with us at the house and some hot toddies. 

Day 3: Snow Shoeing in Ponderosa State Park
By Saturday, I was pretty gassed out and was feeling the soreness all over my body from using every single muscle to ski. My cousins and I were also ready for a break and to also just enjoy what McCall had to offer. We slept in and took our snow shoes to Ponderosa State Park for a hike! 
I've never snow shoed either, but it almost feels like you're strapped into moon shoes and are walking on an elliptical since your stance is so wide and you're cutting into the snow. It definitely was a workout in itself, but the paths were pretty groomed for snow shoeing and cross country skiing. Not to mention it was cool just being able to walk through the forest and see the portrait of Payette Lake, with a majestic bald eagle crossing the horizon as we howled and cawed over the frozen lake. 

After snow shoeing, we drove into town for some much needed shopping and lunch at the Salmon River Brewery as we had all of the babies with us. We wandered around town, visited some cool ice sculptures, and ended the night eating a big spaghetti dinner at my uncle's friend's house outside of town. It was definitely a day needed to just rest and have some quality family time before heading out on Sunday. 

Day 4: One Last Ski in Boise 
With a good lay in, the whole crew was getting ready to pack up. Time flies when you're flying down mountains! We headed into town for one last bite to eat—the most amazing french dip at the McCall Brewing Company (all the breweries, yes) where we said adieu to most of the cousins and headed out with my aunt and uncle and cousin Lindsay back to Boise. We were going to night ski one last time before I was dropped off at the airport and they headed back to Oregon. 
I was feeling like mush from skiing for two days, but one more day couldn't hurt right? Mustering up the courage and what I learned to get through my first intermediate ski run (the level goes bunny hill, green, blue or intermediate, and black diamond). Also successfully going down my first green without falling. I owe it to my cousins for their patience with me and being the true ski cheerleaders as I trudged back on my skis every time, had a couple yard sales, got a pretty good battle scar on my knee, but never—not once—shedding a single tear, just powder. 

They know this already, but sending another huge thank you to the Livingston crew for inviting me on their yearly ski trip and for putting up with my mother goose ski skills. It truly is a difficult sport, but I understand why so many people do it once they have the gear and experience down. The running joke was that my next ski venture is the winter olympics...so just you wait. 

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