First things first: while I pride myself at being a pretty good skier, I am possibly the world’s worst snowboarder to ever grace the slopes. I am not kidding.
Last weekend, Rebecca and I decided to embark on a ninety minute drive to Cataloochee Ski Area in Maggie Valley, NC. For those of you not familiar with Maggie Valley, it is a charming little town in the Smoky Mountains between Asheville, NC and the Cherokee Indian Reservation.
Maggie Valley, NC
To shed some light on the town’s more shadier past, there are a couple of infamous characters who at one time called Maggie Valley their home. The first was local boogeyman and mass murderer, Peter Lundin. The second was local hero and renown moonshiner, Marvin “Popcorn” Sutton. Both are gone now. The first is serving a life sentence in a Denmark prison and the second tragically took his own life to avoid being locked away.
Please don’t allow me to give you the wrong impression of this North Carolina mountain town. It’s actually a wonderful place for all sorts of family fun and adventure. There’s camping, cabin rentals, antique shops, craft fairs, mini-golf, snow-tubing, Carolina barbecue, and the list goes on and on. There’s even an amusement park there called Ghost Town in the Sky that was actually built atop a mountain. This truly unique fun park can only be accessed by riding up a 3,370 foot-long chairlift or an extremely steep railway to the top.
Maggie Valley is also home to the most photographed view of the Smokies… and what a spectacular view it is!
Now before I steer this article so far off course we plunge headlong off a cliff, let’s park this tale back at the Cataloochee Ski Area. It was early evening when Rebecca and I arrived. We partook in a couple of adult beverages to warm our bones and decided to try our skills at snowboarding for the very first time.
The deadly duo.
If I was doing a story about a recent ski trip, this article most likely would’ve included a panoramic view of the Smokies from the summit. I might have been captured on lens catching some mad air; maneuvering skillfully through some moguls on a black diamond, or racing Rebecca to the bottom of the slopes. But since this story is about snowboarding instead of skiing, well, the lack of any legitimate snowboarding shots should speak for themselves.
As a matter of fact, you’ll only find a single photograph of me actually standing on my board. We didn’t bring a fast enough camera to snap any of that hardcore action where I’m upright and moving at the same time.
Mere seconds before the carnage.
Snowboarding is hard… It’s damn hard! Though I never expected to be an expert on my first attempt at this winter sport, I imagined I would’ve had some semblance of control while engaged in the activity. After bowling down a four-year old boy like I was picking up a spare at Lucky’s Lanes, I knew I had grossly overestimated my abilities.
The ski patrol asked me to take a break so they could catch a breather as well.
That brings me to another aspect of snowboarding that totally baffles me. How does a 200 pound, forty-year old man get back to his feet once he falls in that slick, hard-packed snow? I tried the board in the front technique; the board in the back technique; even tried the board in the air technique after I got pissed and began walking down the bunny slope. Yeah, snowboarding is really hard.
The most oft-repeated view: lying on my back, staring up into the dark, cold night sky.
In the end, I decided to do what seemed to be working best for me. I simply strapped in and allowed the board to take me where it wanted me to go. Why fight it anymore? Sometimes you have to just go with the flow. The board seemed to like the areas outside the confines of the slopes the best. There was this grove of lovely birch trees that we visited on more than one occasion. Though the circumference of their trunks are rather narrow, surprisingly those trees can withstand some rather violent brunt trauma.
I also shut down a chairlift, got entangled in some boundary fencing, swam a creek, and dented a minivan parked in the resort’s gravel parking lot. (The woman shouldn’t have parked so close to the lodge.)
There’s my little ski bunny!
Though Rebecca didn’t fare much better, she could boast that nobody got hurt and no property was damaged during her entire experience.
On the drive home, Rebecca and I came to a unanimous decision. Should we ever elect to go snowboarding again, we would definitely shell out a few dollars for some lessons.
This guy doesn’t have a clue!
Better yet, we’ll probably just stick to what we know and stay on the skis.