My trip to 'Hakuba/Goryu.'
So... (flips open real, paper journal to check details on this trip)
February 10th (Sunday) I sleep late and wander over to my home stay parents' place by mid-afternoon. After purchasing some last minute snowboarding things (a neck warmer, a better pair of gloves, and some of those self heating packs) I hang out with Teruyo and Masao. We enjoy a super tasty sukiyaki diner and then around 11, instead of going to bed, they drop me off at their friend, Yumie's place.
In the past Yumie has taken me to an all night dancing festival and has brought me wake boarding. Weekends with her always prove entertaining. She has 'a wide face', which means that she knows scads of people.
After loading up the car, we met the rest of our snowboarding adventure party in the parking lot of a sports bar. When the bus got there, all 30 (or so) of us got on. By 1am we were underway and surprisingly everyone was super happy, and while a little sleepy, ready to stay awake for some good old game show fun.
The bus ride ended at 6:30 at the base of the mountain, however, from 1-2:30 we played a trivia game. After a break at a rest stop, we boarded the bus in our newly designated 'teams'. I was in a team with Yumie and 4 other people who spoke very little English, so I was a little nervous about being sleepy and needing to speak Japanese.
But you may be asking yourself, 'Hey, you're going snowboarding tomorrow! Why aren't you all sleeping?!?!” Well, my answer for you is that Japanese 20 and 30-somethings are crazy. The way they got us from giving up and going to sleep was that the team with the least amount of points would have to wear super embarrassing clothes on the mountain when they snowboarded the next day!!! So, I tried my best.
The questions were mostly sports related, which meant I was no help at all. There were some that I could help out with, but mainly I was just crossing my fingers that we weren't the lowest team. At 2:30 it was the decision time, and it wasn't looking good for my team. However, we were (thankfully) second to last!!! phew
We stopped at a rest stop and got back to our normal seats. After that, I fell sound asleep against the window.
When I woke up the window was crusted in ice, and I was pretty cold and still rather tired. However, my excitement made up for my lack of sleep.
Upon entering the ski lodge we changed and I rented equipment. Oddly enough there were a bunch of Australian staff members who I found out got 'working holiday' visas and were staying for the season. So, I was outfitted and at 8:30 we hit the slopes!
Yumie and her friend are less experienced than me and the boy we were with. (forgive me, I've forgotten his name.) Let's just call him, Takuya. So Takuya and I after going once on the main slope for a practice run, left Yumie and Ayaka on the easier slope. We went up the gondola to the top, and without really consulting the map, we headed on down the mountain.
I can justify the mistake I made after this point in two ways: 1. I was a little tired. 2. The English on the sign was misleading. It just said 'no beginners'.
So that's when I found out that men all around the world will nearly kill themselves rather than be shown up by a girl at a sport. We found ourselves on the double black diamond of the mountain. The name was 'Champion, Expert Course.' HA! It was covered in mogles and to be fair, I fell quite a few times. But I was doing so much better than poor Takuya. I think he might have turned twice and mainly fallen down the rest of the course. (oops) At the end, though, there was some delicious powder snow, which relaxed me, and I was ready for more!
So we met up with Yumie and Ayaka and together went up the gondola and went on a less insane path. Over all the mountain wasn't as crowded as I expected for a national holiday, and I didn't have many problems. It helped that we weren't on the main easy parts. The snow was very nice, and comparable with Utah and Colorado. While the mountains weren't as well developed or as wide, they were as high.
There weren't many lines to wait in, as there were almost 2 lifts (mostly high speed) for each run. But as it was one day, it was perfect!
Lunch was at 11:30, and I enjoyed some curry rice. It was excellent and full of calories that I was excited to burn. Then we went up for a ride, and my three companions felt their energy drained, and decided to call it a day. I was still gung-hoe for more, so I headed off to the other side of the mountain. I explored on my own and had a great time people watching from the lifts and enjoying the scenery.
At 3:30 I came in and turned in my cute electronic pass, and then after a bath (there was a hot spring there), I changed and clambored back on the bus with the rest of the very tired group. I slept from then until we reached Nagoya.
Overall it was an incredibly enjoyable and strange experience. While I prefer the more relaxing snowboarding schedule of home, it was very enjoyable.