We traveled to Hakuba to learn how to snowboard it was Chris’ second time and my first time. Lucky we were with Chris’s step-brother Jonnie who was previously an instructor and could help us out. We started on the steepest of the three beginner slopes. I took a few good falls but couldn’t get up the normal way. I had to flip my board and myself all the way around so I was on my belly, to get up on my knees and start backwards. That took a lot of effort. It was seriously so much fun, but my legs were burning on the second time down. The more we did it, the more we picked it up and apparently we progressed quite fast. It was pretty funny though that little tiny kids would be flying past us on their skis, doing jumps and everything, while we were struggling to stand up. We had started out all rugged-up but the weather was so warm that after the first run we realised that we needed to ditch any extra layers of clothes to stay cool. I really enjoyed the chair lifts that took us back up the hill. They were so relaxing and had great views. For lunch, we went to Jonnie’s in-law’s house. It is a log cabin, 2 minutes walk from the slopes. We had a Japanese BBQ lunch full of all types of delicious stuff like chicken skewers, wild pig ribs, bear, pork ribs, veggies and yaki soba. Then, to finish it off, toasted marshmallows in the bbq fire. Afterwards we went back to the slopes, but this time we tried the intermediate slope. I could tell from down the bottom how much steeper it was, but Chris was oblivious of the difference so we took the last chair lift up. It was terrifying! My mind could not understand how I was going to make it. At this point I had only learnt how to board on the heel side, facing down the hill, and this is the moment Chris and his bro decided it would be best for me to learn toe side, facing the top of the hill, which meant going backwards. To me that just messed my mind up. I couldn’t handle it, so for ages I was just trying to stand up but my body wouldn’t let me because of the fear. You have to understand, the slope I was on was very steep. Like it wasn’t just a gentle slope like the beginners one, it went straight down. Basically a 90-degree angle, or like boarding on the ceiling! Not even exaggerating. They tried to help me and they laughed at me. I went down on my butt for a bit, without pushing, just falling down. Then they got me up and while I boarded facing down the hill, Jonnie held my hands while he went down backwards. That happened until we got down to a more appropriate angle of the slope, where I was able to practice going down backwards and board all by myself again at a normal speed. Afterwards, we went back to the log cabin and had tea and biscuits, and then went to our accommodation “monkey rider” where we stayed for the night. It is the best lodge in Hakuba, we totally recommend it. Lovely owners, great location and awesome rooms.
That night we caught a cab to the Onsen for a nice hot bath to soothe our aching muscles. Then we wandered around the empty hakuba streets (late night at the end of the season means not many people) and found a Mexican restaurant. We ate a dang Quesadilla while we played chess. Jonnie had invited us to a party so after dinner we went to this little bar where a DJ was playing and a fair few people were crammed in, having a good time. One whole wall was covered in shelves of vinyl. There were thousands of records, and we were told they were mostly disco. 😀 We met a few people and chatted for a while. One guy hooked us up with a place to stay in Tokyo when we go back through. It was a great way to finish the night, and we were so ready for bed when we got back to the lodge.
The next morning we hit the slopes again bright and early. We realised that the day before we had gotten pretty sunburned so we made sure to buy some sunscreen. Everything was easier on the second day, and the weather was so warm that Chris was boarding in a T-shirt. We did the main slope a few times, and then went sledding down one of the gentler slopes. It was so much fun. It was the last day of the season for this particular resort, so overnight they had set up a big bowl, like a skate park but made out of snow. People here use skateboard decks with little skis attached to the bottom, and they were skating and doing tricks in the bowl. Apparently they convert a lot of the popular summer sports to be done on the snow. They have snow scooters, and even do snow kite surfing. By the end of the day we were switching from heel to toe like pros, and falling over a lot less. On the last run, we decided to try the steeper hill that had scared me so much yesterday. It was still scary, and I slid down most of it on my bum, but I did manage to do some of it on my board as well, and I’m glad I did it.
By the end of the second day we were so sore, but so happy. Hakuba is a beautiful place.