Time to Hit The Mountain

I woke up for my first full day in Nozawa Onsen, keen to get started.  After a host breakfast, I picked dressed in my snow gear, collected my skis, and left for the mountain.  I was headed for an area called Karasawa.

It’s a short walk to the mountain, but includes going up a pretty steep hill.  I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to walk in ski boots, but it ain’t easy!  It wasn’t far though, so I made it to the snow at the bottom of the mountain.  This is where the lowest ski-lifts are.  There’s an office here too, which is where I collected my ski lift pass for the deal.

Now, it’s important to remember something here – I’d been skiing exactly once before, 10 years prior.  So naturally I’d arranged a lesson for my first day, to get me back to the swing of things.  The lesson is up on the  mountain, and involved a gondola ride up to meet the instructor in a cafe near the Uenotaira slope.

But the Nagasaka  gondola station where I needed to be is on the other side of town.  My plan was to get on the mountain close to my hotel, ski across to the gondola station, and ride it up from there.  I went up my first ski lift, that was pretty easy.  Then I found myself looking down a very steep, very narrow trail, with no idea how to get down.

It dawned on me at this point that it might not be wise to attempt to ski to my ski lesson.

Too late to turn back though, and I figured hell – gravity will get me down the hill one way or another.  So I stepped into my skis and snowplowed my way down the  mountain!  Made it down with only a few minor spills, and boarded the gondola.

The mountain is actually pretty huge, and the Nagasaka gondola takes a while to get up the mountain.  I met my instructor in a cafe at the top station, where we discussed my level of experience, and he explained some basics.  That first lesson was a bit touch and go – definitely didn’t start out too well.  But I slowly got the hang of it.

That night I went for a wander about town, looking for somewhere to eat.  Turns out there was a festival in town, involving free soup.

Also discovered the extremely awesome “Stay” bar.

This turned out to be my usual nighttime haunt.


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