December 29th, 2012 - January 1st, 2013: New Years Kablooey

For the 5th time in as many years, Sara & Jonny joined me at Echo Lake to celebrate the end of one year and the start of the next. Over the years, we have been joined by various friends and family, maxing out in the double digits to celebrate the start of 2010. This year was different, as it was just the three of us making the pilgrimage into the hills.

High-5 to a great year ending and another beginning!
Two words. Bar soap.
JonnyB cranking out a compression test.
Sara plays with saws.
Ripping Robinson Run.
And then he'll chop down a tree.
Juniper shadows.
We skied and we ate and we laughed and we had a wee bit more adventure than we actually planned for... New Years Eve was moving along swimmingly with a few laps on Robinson Run and a fun run across the lake on No Hay. (Note: All trail names have been developed over years of extensive thought and global discussion forums. Or not.) With the sun starting to set, Jonny and I decided to get one more run while Sara headed into the cabin to get a fire going and warm up. One last run.

We skinned up to our usual neck of the woods. Usually we'd ski back down straight above the cabin, maybe a little east along the slopes. Being curious explorers, we decided to venture a little west instead. We strapped our helmets on, thankfully, and started making some really fun, mellow turns. JonnyB was up front and stopped for a moment while I skied past towards the lake. Just a few more turns, but that last turn is a doozy.

I new there was a fairly large rock that loomed above the lake, creating a sizable drop to the lake. Maybe 10-12 feet. We had noticed some ski tracks off it earlier in the day and commented on how brutal the landing would be. You can imagine my surprise when I found myself unexpectedly skiing straight off it. The void beneath my skis was disorienting, having never been much of a big air kind of guy.

I wish I could tell you how I landed. More so than I, Jonny would probably wishes that I could tell you how I landed. This knowledge would mean that I hadn't gotten knocked out and he would not have been put in the terrifying position of dealing with an unconscious friend in the backcountry. The first bit I remember after seeing the void (and proclaiming "A bad word. That starts with F.") and then remember Jonny asking me silly questions, most notably, "How'd we get here?" I felt the gears turning in my head as I searched for the proper response, but could only muster "I should know this." At least I knew what I didn't know.

Jonny and I walked back to the cabin and as time passed, my brain caught up with my body. Sara kept things calm and Jonny called his ER doc brother who put me through a mental exercise or two after leading Jonny through a simple physical exam of my spine and noggin. All looked good, but we decided to head down to the South Lake Tahoe and get checked out real quick at the hospital. Peace of mind over pieces of mind.

New Years Eve is a crazy time for hospitals. Luckily, we snuck in between the ski accidents and the late night crazies. The doctor checked me out and said I seemed all good. A CAT scan was optional, but given the elapsed time from the incident (about 4 hours at this point) and my improved state, it wasn't recommended. Turns out, the chances of getting cancer are nearly as likely as the chances of learning something of benefit. I'm good, thanks! A few bumps and bruises, but everything checked out OK.

As I write this, two months later, I am happy to report that I have not had a single headache or side effect from this wild little ride. If I hadn't worn a helmet for that run, this would probably be a different story. Jonny and I learned several good lessons that day, but when all else fails, make sure you have a helmet.

If you read all that, you'll probably be interested in reading Jonny's version of the weekend: Backwoods.


JB said...

Adventures start when things start to go wrong. Thanks for making it an escapade worth remembering!

Anonymous said...

Way to go Jonny, good thing you had all that ER practice at the lakefront in high school. Bern, watch out for cliffs, your Nieces and Nephews need an adventurous uncle to tell stories, not to be the center of stories told. Ali

Bernard Rocca said...

Just another story for Uncle Nardge to impart on the next generation - No No Rock #2.

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