Jane and I took off work on Friday, April 4 and paid a visit to Vail for a day of skiing. We planned to meet our friends the Gaiges for lunch, but at the last minute they decided to ski at Breckenridge, so we thought we had the day to ourselves. As it turned out we found a new friend, and we embraced the role of mountain guides for much of the day.
We took our time preparing for our day of skiing on Friday morning and thus didn’t walk off the Lionshead gondola until around 10:30AM. It was shaping up as a gorgeous day with blue skies and sunshine, and the temperature at 20 degrees as we began. In fact Friday would develop into one of the nicest days of the season from a weather perspective with sunshine most of the day and only some gray clouds blocking the sun from 3 until 4PM. Vail had received a decent amount of snow on Thursday, but it was largely carved up and tracked out except for a few of the more remote areas of the mountain.
When we reached the top of the gondola, we decided to ski south into Game Creek Bowl, and when we arrived at the chair at the base, we matched up with a young lady bundled up to the point that we only knew she was a female because she wore a pink helmet and pink, purple and white parka. Halfway up the chair I began chatting with our fellow rider, and discovered that she was from Brazil and spending a year at Cornell University. I don’t think I learned much else, but after descending The Woods trail in Game Creek and returning to the same lift line, we matched up with the same young woman dressed in pink.
During the second ride we learned more about our new Brazilian friend and discovered that she was staying in Breckenridge with 30 Cornell students, but she had missed the bus that left for Keystone and hitched a ride with two male students and ended up at Vail. The two guys were better skiers and left her on her own. Jane and I described Blue Sky Basin and encouraged her to check it out before the day was over. Upon further discussion, we decided that we were headed there and invited her to tag along.
One thing led to another, and we eventually learned that our new friend’s name was Gabriela, and she was an electrical engineering major. Her English was quite good, and Jane and I were very impressed that she was taking electrical engineering courses at an Ivy League school using her second or third language. She was a solid intermediate skier and quite fearless for someone coming from a tropical country such as Brazil.
We escorted Gabriela on three or four runs in Blue Sky Basin until she informed us that she was feeling a bit weak and needed to eat. She contacted her two friends from Cornell, and they were at the snack hut at the top of Blue Sky, and we gave her the option to continue skiing with us as we were ready to head to Two Elks Lodge for lunch. I think she realized that if she met the guys for lunch, they would probably resume skiing more difficult terrain, and she’d be left on her own again, so she decided to join us.
We had a very pleasant lunch with our new friend and learned more about her family, her country, and her career interests. I gave her my business card with my email address in hopes that she will remember to email us so we can remain in contact in the future. We even discussed the possibility of a vacation trip to Brazil, and that would offer Gabriela the opportunity to perhaps guide us for a day in her home country.
We did a few runs after lunch including China Bowl, Gabriela’s favorite, and Blue Ox. By 2:30 she received a text message from her ride, and they were ready to leave, so we parted company at the base of the Northwoods lift.
It was a fun day, and we enjoyed meeting Gabriela, and hopefully she had more fun hanging out with us seniors versus skiing on her own at a vast ski area with no guidance.