The Art of Skiing Alone

The Art of Skiing Alone

It’s the middle of winter and I live in the middle of nowhere. I’ve moved around too many times to build relationships with other skiers and snowboarders as an adult. Sure, I had a crew at 12 and another at 22, but relationships ebb and flow. People get scared once they realize they can break bones, people get married, buy a house, have babies… all contributing factors that stop Sunday Fundays and end frivolous spending. Even my husband doesn’t ski, so it’s just me.

the night before

Late Friday night, I obsessively check the weather in the dark to make sure the roads will be OK. I’m not a great driver but the Subaru saves me enough. Rain Thursday mixing to snow, which ends by 10 pm. We won’t even get an inch of white stuff, and the roads will be bad regardless. There’s enough time for a plow to go through, though, and it’s all snow at the mountain when you take away 10 degrees. The sun icon on my weather app is steady from Saturday morning into Sunday evening and my timing is perfect. I’ll be able to snake down the road in the early morning and head to the mountains before dawn on the first day of the weekend. I set my alarm and roll over to sleep.

I dream of skiing midweek.

5 am blares into my ears, and my dreams are short lived. I lay there, wondering why I do this to myself. In dim light I rake a comb through my hair. I attempt two braids a few times–ok maybe just one braid, then–so I won’t have knots by Sunday. My favorite socks and base layers go on like an extension of my pajamas. Hat on now. Season pass around my neck. Snow pants and mid-layer on later. I make sure I have extra socks and layers in the Rubbermaid storage bin with my helmet and gloves.

My luggage is packed.

There’s no way I’m cooking breakfast right now, because my eyes are still half-closed. I’ll stop at Sheetz, maybe get a coffee. It’ll be an hour or so before I see one. I fill up the largest water bottle I can find. I make a sandwich with what lunchmeat is left in the fridge and search for snacks and a piece of fruit. I stick 3 cheap beer cans in the bottom of my oversized cooler lunchbox, telling myself they’ll work like ice packs, and stick the sandwich on top. An apple. An almost empty bag of Doritos. This’ll do. In the garage I put down a back seat so my skis can be a passenger. It’s 6 in the morning and if I leave now, I’ll park just in time to get my boots and helmet on for first chair at 9 am.

the drive

Everything’s in the car–wait, no. I forgot my phone. I have to pee.

I don’t have to get first chair. Well, first run because Snowshoe “starts at the top.” The place shows off one of the best sunrises I’ve ever seen, and I’ll bask in its glory Sunday morning. The car starts. I drive for miles with the radio cackling. The sun peaks over ridges as the winding roads present perfectly old barns set in valleys and foothills. Sheep. Cows. Brilliant pinks and oranges against a grey barn with a broken door. I always consider pulling over to take a photo, but what if they’re looking?

I’m driving too fast. I hit rumble strips as I stare out the window.

the mountain: saturday

A little more than 2 hours pass. Finally the sign with the white rabbit hops into view. Turn left and drive up, back and forth on switchbacks and coast through the resort. I’m finally parked at the “Top of the World” and hop out with gusto but regret it. I wince as the bitter, frozen wind hits me and scramble for my winter coat. I didn’t account for this. I balance on one foot as I take off a shoe and trade it for Ski Boot #1. Repeat the same for #2. I’m almost there. My hands are frozen as I maneuver layers on and thunk a helmet onto my head, goggles attached. Mask up, mittens on, I’m ready.

The snow, groomed into lines of corduroy, sparkle in the sun. I’m warm again.

A powder day is rare in the Mid-Atlantic. It’s too south for feet of snow, but north enough for the rain to freeze. Here, it’s a celebration when there’s no ice to skid over. And today, there’s no ice to skid over. I laugh. I whoop out loud to myself as pieces of hair whip around my helmet. That braid didn’t do much. First run and I’m flying with every transition of a turn. People should express themselves like this, I think.

But I’m the annoying neighbor. Yeeeeeeew!!!

In another year, I ride the lift and talk to people. If I read them right, I make fast friends and lose them even faster. We laugh and joke, and talk about how nice of a day it is. Go through the Where Are You Froms and How Far Is Thats. Oh, you bought a place here and fixed it up? Oh, the kids are skiing with your wife today? Oh, you’ve been coming here since the 70’s? Nice beard! Enjoy your day! You too.

Lunch is a tailgate in the parking lot. I sit in the car to de-thaw and eat my sandwich. The kids next to me have a cooler out and a leftover pizza box. Music from bluetooth speakers, here, there, a few rows down. Someone offers me a beer. Thanks.

We high-five, and then I’m back out.


The slopes close at 4 as the sun begins to dip below the mountains, and I drive down a back road through an antique company logging town, whitewashed until you get to the train tracks. It’s only 15 minutes away. I’m not renting an Air BnB with friends. I’m not splitting a lodge on the mountain four ways. I’m being efficient, even if I have to check for bedbugs. There’s none. This place is the cheapest, cleanest room around. And they’ve got good pizza in the gift shop.

I found a review before I booked.

The cook stands at the table with me while my pizza order goes through the oven. He tells me about his oil and gas job. He mentions that his dog’s in the car. He asks where I’m from and if I want to eat my pizza here or to-go. To-go, please. I’ve got… people back in the room. I head to my room with my pizza box and he’s put a ridiculous amount of cheese on the pie and quite frankly I’m very happy about it. I can’t turn the TV on. There’s almost no wifi left to share. I hear the occupants in the neighboring room complain when they can’t watch videos on their phone.

Candy Crush offline it is. I fall asleep at 8.

the mountain: sunday

6 am wakes me up without an alarm. “Sun rises at 7, Christina, let’s go.” I rush, which is nothing new in the mornings. I don’t really have to do much as it was cold in the room and I slept in my base layers. With no one around, what’s the point of changing? I do put on new socks, though–that is a necessity. I go to the bottom of the mountain for breakfast on Route 66. A family sits at one table and 3 grey-haired men in snow pants sit at the other. I order egg, bacon, cheese on a bagel and sausage gravy slathered over a biscuit, all under $10. I paid $109 for the same thing and 3 screwdrivers in Aspen. I’ll take these prices any day.

I ski laps again.

This morning my legs groan because I was having too much fun the day before. My music lasted almost the whole day and I took my time riding each slope and memorizing chairlift locations for when I come back next time. Today, I’ll head home early before the snowstorm hits. The weather app changed the start time to 1. I’ll be stuck here, although I wouldn’t mind it. It’s 10 am, I’ll leave around 11. I refuse to call, “last run,” especially alone.

The sun beats down on me in the lift line, cutting out the cold wind from yesterday.

A woman asks if she could ride up with me. We talk about how she’s been coming here with friends for years, and her trips out west with family. We laugh about how it can be hard to find lodging, and she once booked a studio cabin with an outhouse just to be here. We part ways at the top only to find each other again at the bottom. We ski the same speed. My blue jacket must stick out. We ride together once more and talk about West Virginia, how beautiful and under appreciated it is. I think about skiing with her again, but it’s time to go.

We part ways for good this time. I’m tired.

the drive home

I drive home through the same ridges and past the same old barns and even stop again at a Sheetz to gas up. My dog and my husband are waiting at home. I’ll make dinner. It’s a good weekend, I think to myself. I found new places to stay, good food, and great conversation. I can’t wait to go back.

And I was never really alone.

Know Before You Go: A First Time Skier’s Guide

Know Before You Go: A First Time Skier’s Guide

Take a deep breath – you’re going to have so much fun with friends in the outdoors! Here’s a quick first-timer’s guide to hitting the slopes. From base layers to boots, this is everything I’d tell my friends. Plus, there’s some options you can work with your first time that will be OK if you don’t have the budget for more technically specific clothing.


My favorite mid-layers consist of neck gaiters and quarter zip fleeces.

One of the most important pieces of advice I have is to take a lesson! I know it’s pricey, but if its your first time, it’s going to pay dividends to have that first lesson with a pro. I realize your friends will want to teach you! But if they haven’t taught before, they most likely don’t know what they’re in for, either. I’ve had someone get so frustrated with my first day on a snowboard that they told me to go get skis after just 1 run. Not fun.

In previous years, it was very easy to find plenty of beginner-oriented deals, usually in the form of Lift, Lesson & Rental packages. In fact, January is “learn to ski and snowboard month,” and resorts would offer deals as low as $49 for the entire package! Unfortunately, with 2021 pandemic restrictions in order to keep us all safe, resorts aren’t giving beginner specials out so often. Keep your eyes peeled, and do your research!


Columbia Sportswear carries up to 3X in women’s baselayer sizes!

Layers, layers and MORE layers! The best thing about layers is that you can take them off if you get too warm and put them on if it’s too cold. I will say this: I personally tend to get hot if it’s over 32 degrees so I have base layers and outerwear. Remember, you are exercising! But if it’s below freezing, I’m usually pretty cold.

  • Base Layers – base layers are closest to your skin and are moisture wicking. Aka “Long Underwear.” It is OK if the only thing you have are leggings and a stretchy long-sleeve, but consider upgrading if you decide you want to ski or ride multiple times. Just try to stay away from cotton items because it will absorb your sweat (yes, even in the cold) and make life pretty uncomfortable.
  • Mid-Layers – fleece, a comfortable zip-up or sweat shirts are fine options in my opinion, but there are more technical layers such as down jackets as seen in the video below.
  • Outerwear – the goal for your outermost layer is to try to get these things as waterproof and wind resistant as possible! Please stay away from jeans, sweats or hoodies as your top piece, especially if it’s your first time. They will get very wet and you’ll be very cold after your first fall.
  • Coverings for Head, Face & Hands – Keep them all covered! A helmet is best and highly recommended – you can rent these, too, but any winter hat is fine. Make sure your ears are covered. You will thank me later if you get a buff or fleece layer for your neck and to pull up over your mouth and nose, especially if it’s under 32 degrees (and beyond Covid times). Googles will also seem bulky and unnecessary, but once you really start skiing or riding with speed, you will need these for optimum vision. There are plenty of cost-effective options, and I recommend purchasing new to avoid scratches. Finally, you really should get yourself a nice pair of gloves or mittens – again, try to stay away from cotton or knit – the snow will stick, melt, and ultimately make your fingers turn to ice, too!

*You CAN wear mittens if you’re skiing – you’ll still be able to hold your poles. I enjoy mittens on cold and windy days.

Check the video below. Their clothing might seem a little intimidating to the novice winter-adventurer, and that is OK! If you don’t have these, do your best with what you have unless you have the funds. I do not wear a ton of mid-layers based on personal preference. I enjoy a base layer and a fleece – unless it’s very cold and windy I only wear a base layer under my ski pants.


Wear 1 pair of smooth socks! Two pairs of socks or very thick socks are a no-go. Doing this will actually make you colder by restricting circulation once those boots are snapped in place. A smooth sock with no ridges or ripples that will be inside the boot will be most comfortable.

Don’t wear jeans – or tuck them in to your boots! More explained in layering, above. Plus, jeans are not comfortable in every day life, either. #LeggingLife

If you have snow pants, there will be a liner with a stretchy ankle part and most likely a button. Please do not tuck these in your boots, either. Your boots will be very snug and anything – including that metal button – will feel like a rock. Think princess and the pea – but a boulder in your sock.

This is a great video for a first time skier, and it gives a nice visualization on putting on your boots and your skis!

All in all – be comfortable, be warm, and ENJOY! I am always here if you have questions about skiing – DM me on the gram and I’ll try to help you!

Plus-Size Winter Gift Guide (Retailers to Keep in Mind)

Plus-Size Winter Gift Guide (Retailers to Keep in Mind)

Ten days ’til Christmas in 2020 means you should have ordered last week to get it in time to put under the tree, and Hanukkah is almost over. I’m sorry! But hey – regardless of the season, you can always gift yourself for skiing and snowboarding anytime, right?!

If you are a plus size skier or snowboarder, or even thinking about learning a snow sport, you probably have had trouble finding a jacket that zips or pants that button at local shops, and have most likely found yourself frustrated while searching online for something that doesn’t really exist on or other retailers. Believe me, I’ve had my own issues through the years. But, things are changing!

In the holiday spirit, I contacted two plus-size specific winter retailers and they gave me their favorite winter recommendations for both women and men. If you are looking for technical winter gear to keep you warm, read on…

Alpine Curves (USA)

“Our goal is to be your single source for plus size clothing and gear that fit the everyday woman for her outdoor lifestyle. It has been said that 67% of women in the US are over the size 14. With these kind of numbers the plus size woman IS the everyday woman. Every woman should be a be able to participate in any outdoor activity and not have to worry about what she needs to wear.” Visit Site →

Featured on Outside Online’s article “Hey, Outdoor Industry: We Need Plus-Size Ski Gear” – Read Here

Alpine Curves carries several brands for skiing: Obermeyer, DSG Outerwear, Pulse, and Arctix. However, they also offer gear for hunting, fishing, athletic wear, swimwear and more.

Kindra Roberts Recommends…

Visit @alpinecurves on Instagram

Kindra Roberts, CEO of Alpine Curves, says that she personally skis with a pair of the white Pulse Rider Pants and the Arcitx Bibs. “Last year I was on the higher end of a size 24 and these were the two that fit me really well,” she says. “I also got a super funky pair of suspenders off of Amazon for the pants because I really like having the straps to hold the pants up. When I ski, I usually do just one of those pants, my DSG Base Layer, and then my Wigwam socks. As an aside, those are my favorite ski/ snow board socks because they are the only ones that fit over my 18” calf and don’t cut off my circulation. This past year I rolled with the Boulder Gear jacket. It looked super sharp next to the white pants.”

  • BOULDER GEAR jackets are super technical and high end, although they have a unique sizing structure so be sure to do some research before purchase.

  • The DSG OUTERWEAR line is more of a Snowmobile brand but offers one of the most technical jackets Kindra had ever owned as a plus size woman. “There sizing is ON point and the quality is also amazing and worth the price.” Plus, they’re versatile! Inseams on all of DSG’s pants are adjustable and some bibs can even be converted to pants.

  • While OBERMEYER currently only goes up to size 22, they may release up to size 24 in 2021. This brand offers the latest tech, high quality and attention to detail. “The colors of the new Tuscany jackets is really incredible, the images do not do it justice,” Kindra says.

Plus Snow (Australia)

“We are dedicated to providing plus size men and women a great range of high-quality snow and outdoor gear designed to fit perfectly. We know that plus-sized snow gear is extremely difficult to find and is often poorly designed, making it a poor fit and uncomfortable. Plus Snow gear is specially designed for the plus size shape, not just those with extra-long arms and legs.” Visit Site →

Featured on the She Explores Podcast “Where is All the Plus-Size Snow Gear – Part 2” – Listen Here

Although in Australia, Plus Snow offers Free shipping on all orders over $150, including international. However, import duties, taxes and charges are still a thing. Check out their shipping FAQ here. Also cool to note they have rain gear available.

Mon Balon Recommends…

Mon Balon, Founder & CEO of Plus Snow, gives us recommendations for both men and women’s outerwear.

Follow @plussnow on Instagram
  • WOMEN’S WINTER JACKET – “My number 1 recommended jacket the Brooklyn, which is available in sizes 18-30. The high quality, beautiful supple stretch fabric is so comfortable to wear and emulates much more expensive jackets on every level. With all the high end features of ski jackets, venting, pockets, seam sealing, zoned insulation, stretch fabrics, powder skirts, the list goes on! Its to go-to jacket for recommendations, comes in a variety of colors (hello bright teal or candy pink as well as blueberry navy). It fits so many body shapes and customers are always happy with their purchase.”

  • WOMEN’S SNOW PANTS – “Cold, wet butts are a thing of the past with Cartel Canada pants available in sizes 18-30. Made from the same material as the Brooklyn jacket, the Canada pant is the same soft stretch insulated pant fabric with a 15/15 waterproof and breathable fabric with seam sealing. Designed for plus size bodies, with all the features and in luxurious fabric these pants come in a long and short style, and in neutral colors like light grey and sand to mix things up.”

  • MEN’S WINTER JACKET – “In men’s jackets I recommend the Bankso in army green with a highly waterproof and breathable rating, stretchy fabric and cool styling which will last years as a wardrobe staple. Also available in the black called the Baldy up to size mens 9XL.”

  • MEN’S SNOW PANTS – “The Cartel Arctic pants are perfect for men who’s pants always fall down! They have waist tabs and elastic around their waist in a cool wider leg style and stretchy soft fabric available in 3 colours!”

As I’ve been living on Instagram this year, I’ve stumbled across some great brands. Other size-inclusive retailers for all seasons are…