VanCougs hit the slopes at Mt Bachelor

January ended with 82 Washington State University Vancouver students going on the annual recreation trip to Oregon’s Mt. Bachelor. Students gathered in the Firstenburg Student Commons waiting for the busses to arrive that would transport us to the Doubletree Hotel in Bend. Anxious to begin our long journey to Bend, we all took turns racing each other on the Nintendo DS Mario Kart until the battery lights on the small rectangular devices blinked red.

Halfway through the trip, we stopped at a rest stop to stretch our legs and use the restroom. As the bus doors slid open I stepped out into the dark evening, and the piercing cold air instantly crawled up my body and engulfed me. For a few minutes I was able to enjoy the star filled sky that looked like a black sheet sprinkled with sugar as the stars twinkled in the night. Others mingled or took this time to get some rest before arriving at our destination.

Upon arriving to the hotel we were greeted by Michelle McIlvoy, the director of student development, and Julia Conrad, the recreation coordinator, who provided us with our welcome packages containing the items we would need for the rest of the weekend. Students scrambled to locate their rooms through the labyrinth-like halls of the hotel. After settling in their rooms, everyone enjoyed the rest of their evening out in downtown Bend. After the long and exhausting journey, I decided to stay in and with the company of a couple friends, played an interesting game of Cards Against Humanity.

Early the next morning, my roommates and I prepped for the long and exciting day ahead of us. Quickly making our way down to the hotel lobby to enjoy the complimentary breakfast at the hotel, we then eagerly got in line to catch the first shuttle bus up to Mt. Bachelor and take full advantage of the day.

Filled with the anticipation of my first time setting foot on a snowboard, I barely noticed the half hour drive up to the mountain go by. As it was my first time snowboarding, I decided it was a good idea to start with the basics and practice on the smallest slope on the mountain, known to many as the “Bunny Hill.” Many students on this year’s trip were completely new to both snowboarding and skiing. Thankfully Nate Hall, Kassidy Williams and Steve Furio, all members of the recreation staff, lingered around the beginners’ hill to help assist those who needed the extra support.

I could feel the nerves beginning to sneak in as the lift inched closer and closer to the top of the hill. To keep from looking down from the height of the lift, I focused on the breathtaking scenery surrounding us. The tree line met with the impeccable cloudless blue skies above and momentarily distracted me from the scariest adventure yet. Getting off the lift was not as easy as I perceived it to be. The lift started to reduce its speed as it approached the top of the run. With one foot strapped in, I felt like Bambi attempting to stand for the first time. With some difficulty, I tried to keep my balance while slowly sliding off my lift seat and onto the snow. After securing my right foot onto the board, I was kindly helped up and ready to go.

Without thinking twice I slid down the mountain and started to pick up speed. The cold air whipped around my face until suddenly the board and my feet went flailing into the air, sending the snow into the air and onto my face. My board had caught an edge after I had tried to switch to my toe side, and no one had told me how to stop. Being the stubborn person that I am, I was so excited to start boarding that I decided not to take the two hour lesson offered at the beginning of the day. This was an intense learning experience that had me shaking from the adrenaline. By midday, I was exhausted from the many falls I had taken that morning.

Before our complimentary lunch provided by the resort, the 82 VanCougs got together for the annual group picture. It was difficult to get everyone in the photo as we were struggling to stand on our tippy toes on an inclined piece of ice. By the end of the day I was exhausted and my body felt pain in muscles I had no idea could possibly ever be sore.

For dinner we were driven out to an area with multiple food trucks where a social hosted by the Student Activities Board took place. Students huddled around the caged fires that provided the only source of warmth. Everyone was eager to return to the hotel to escape the insidious chill that had crept into our bones. Back at the hotel people donned a couple more layers in an attempt to keep the cold at bay, and headed out to explore downtown Bend.

Glistening ice decorated the streets of the small town accompanied by intriguing pieces of art that adorned the sidewalks, giving the town a mystical appeal. Stumbling upon what seemed to be one of the last establishments open, we piled into the tiny gelato shop and invited the cold back into our bodies with the deliciousness of the in-house gelato. Though it increased our shivering, the taste was worth it as we managed to keep our fingers from turning blue with the intrusive cold by taking turns holding the cup of strawberry goodness.

Time escaped me on the second day on the slopes. It felt as if time was flying out from under my feet, though my feet did not fly out from under me as much. Now that I had the basics down, I was able to enjoy the day much more without the frustration of learning how to stay upright and keep the snow from getting into unwanted places. I was able to pick up on some new techniques that one of my helpful partners for the weekend, Brenda Andrade, patiently helped me master.

My newfound skills allowed me to go down a couple new runs that terrified me, but I was able to conquer the fear that had built up the day before. There was no stopping me, until my legs could no longer stand the strain and my skier friend used her ski poles to swing me along the rest of the way down the run to save my legs from the excruciating pain that I had been trying to ignore.

“This trip was about connecting with your fellow Cougs, pushing your boundaries and stepping out of your comfort zone out on the mountain,” said Sterling Fletcher, a student on the trip.

The journey back to campus was long, and the exhausted students fought to keep their eyes open as the bus lulled others — like myself — to sleep. What little energy I had left from the exhilarating weekend was used to unload my things from the bus and drag them to my car. The weekend had been wonderful, but I was happy to be home.

To join future adventures through the Recreation Program stop by the Recreation Annex to pick up a schedule or find it on CougSync under the events calendar. For questions or inquires contact the Recreation Office at 360-546-9532 or van.osirec@wsu.edu.

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