A Different Sort of Winter

by Jennifer Van Gundy '05

I frequently need to remind myself of the fact that it is January. This is because the Bass Lake Campus is currently beset by the most stubborn run of sunny weather ever. The persistent sunshine-and-daisies summer weather with nary a cloud in the sky simply refuses to budge. Although I do like sun, in January I prefer snow, and lots of it. But alas, no such luck. All the prayers and pleas for more winterly weather have been denied thus far; it seems God has a different sort of January in mind.

He also has a sense of humor. In December, the Fall 2002 girls performed a snow dance - a sort of a physical expression of our prayers for snow. But December 12th came and went without a single bit of it. However, one day after the fact I arrived home to rain, tons of rain. And rain in the lowlands of course means snow in the Sierras, eight inches of it in fact. I was thoroughly annoyed.

Anyway, those of us coming up for Spring semester got very excited about the prospect of returning to a winter wonderland. But come January 6th the mountains of glorious snow had been reduced to a few scattered patches clinging to life in the shadows and the shade.

Although the sunny weather is a bit disappointing it has made for some beautiful ski days in the higher altitudes where the snow lingers rather than vanishes. So far this semester we have had two ski days, one to Badger Pass and one to Sierra Summit. The ski trip to Badger Pass was pretty idyllic. It was a bright, clear morning and the slopes were fairly empty. The majority of our group was there to snowboard, and there were quite a few of us that were trying it out for the very first time.

Upon my arrival at the Spring Semester I was promptly informed by the more experienced and learned snowboarders that my first day snowboarding would quite certainly be the worst day of my young life thus far. I mentally stressed myself out the entire hour and a half trip in to Badger Pass but in reality, it was not all that bad. We all fell down a lot, of course, but the snow was soft and no one got seriously hurt. I had to go on the bunny slopes with all the eight year olds that could out-ski me blindfolded in a straight jacket but I did not care. I have no objection to bunnies. We all made public spectacles of ourselves getting off the lift but fortunately no one was wearing anything bearing the APU logo, so the shame of our ineptitude would not be connected with the university in any way.

I think my favorite fall of the day occurred when my old roommate and I attempted a simultaneous dismount and I fell down on the back of her snowboard while she kept moving only to eventually collapse over my back. It was quite dramatic and we attracted the attention of a large crowd.

By the late afternoon most of us first-timers had progressed to the intermediate slopes which somehow are easier than the bunny slopes even though they initially were semi-terrifying to those of us that had yet to figure out how to stop (I mean aside from collapsing in the snow, that is). Riding up the lift at what must have been about 3:30 in the afternoon, off to the far left the sun had emerged from the haze and was on its way down in a blaze of glory. If you twisted around on the lift seat and looked over your shoulder, snow covered mountains and trees continued on for as far as the eye could see. It looked the way I had always imagined the woods must have looked when Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy stepped out of the wardrobe.

All in all it was a wonderful day. It was a blast to hang out with everyone, to fall, fail, and publicly humiliate ourselves together. That day reminded me in the most wonderful sense that it is, in fact, January, which belongs to a group of months connected with a season generally referred to as winter, which is usually associated with such meteorological phenomena as snow and ice. Despite the fact that I have yet to see one shred of evidence in the weather at Bass Lake to support the assertions of my calendar, I still continue to hope that the snow that we have so thoroughly enjoyed on the slopes will one day cover the High Sierra campus.