4 a.m. wake up calls. McDonald’s for breakfast. Five, six, even seven hours cramped on a bus. Extreme, total body exertion for five to six hours. Back on the bus. Five more hours on the road. Maybe a bathroom break. Maybe a hamburger. Back to San Francisco by 10 p.m. Wake up Sunday morning and try to do homework, if you’re not too sore to get out of bed. School on Monday.
This is the life of USF snowboarders. For the last 4 years, this is how I’ve spent nearly every Saturday each and every winter with some of my best friends and fellow boarders here at USF. It’s not glamorous, it’s not pretty. We are smelly and crude and at times hung over. We are loud and obnoxious. However, we all come together, every Saturday at 5 a.m., to do something that we love, something that sets us free.
To some, snowboarding is just a fad that will soon die out. It is just an annoyance that after years skiers all over the world (unlike as recently as 5 years ago) are being forced to accept. To some, snowboarders are just punk kids that ride too fast, crowd the mountain and ultimately represent what many middle aged people hate-young cocky kids with no regard for anything around them except the ipod blasting some screaming gibberish into their ears.
To others, like myself, snowboarding goes way beyond that. It is not a trend or a fad that we follow to be cool. It represents more of a cathartic experience in which whatever negativity or unrest that may lie on one’s subconscious is washed away. In its place you are left with amazing visuals (360 degree views of snow capped mountains from the summit of Lake Tahoe), the sounds of nature, fresh and clean air, brilliant blue skies, friends, and clean, white, beautiful snow.
There is something about being 7,000 feet in the air and looking around at the mountains and trees surrounding you. It is a humbling feeling that you don’t often experience because you get lost in the hustle and bustle of a city like San Francisco. You look around and realize that nothing matters. You could die out here and nobody would even know it. It’s human vs. nature, and at times braving the elements can be dangerous and scary. Lucky for us, the weather was great for our trip; we had sunny skies throughout.
When I went on my first USF snowboarding trip, it was like Christmas when you’re five years old; the fun just doesn’t end no matter how early you wake up in the morning. I was tired and unsure of what was to come as we navigated the winding two-lane roads through the treacherous storm, but I quickly realized that the experience was something that I would soon embrace like a scared child clinging to their mothers’ bosom.
The draw of going on a USF snowboarding trip is that 1) the cost of the whole trip is only $45, which includes your ride to the mountain and your lift ticket (compared to at least $60 alone for a lift ticket and $100 on gas if you make the trip on your own), 2) you get to share the experience with fellow classmates and 3) it is a day trip, making it possible to fit the trip into your often hectic weekly schedule. Over the years at USF I have made many friends and have had great memories that I will never forget. Riding down a mountain at 30 m.p.h next to your friends on a clear sunny day is something that cannot be adequately described in words. It is feeling that you must experience to understand, a feeling that hits you as you look left and right and see your hall-mates from freshman year cruising by you, spraying fresh powder through the air. There is something very unique about that feeling-I’ve only experienced it in other forms once or twice in my entire life. The feeling brings us together, and the camaraderie that we developed over the years will never be forgotten.
Two weeks ago many of us took the last USF snowboarding trip of our lives, as we will soon be graduating. We will continue to ride after graduation, but in a sense it marks a sad point in our lives, as we will we never experience those same things with the same people under the same circumstances again. Thankfully we have amazing technology to capture it all, so the memories will live on forever.
Thanks to Eva Erickson, Christoph “Tito” Huber, Raja Iliya, Michael Marshall, and Hunter Patterson for all the good times, and for making all the pics and video possible.
Check out the slideshow and episode of USFtv Board from Northstar-at-Tahoe below, and click here to view the extended flickr set.
Thanks to Raja Iliya for helping out with photography.