Sometimes, life forces you to be a little creative.
2021 Ski Trip Plans, a Recap
In the middle of 2021, and at the start of the southern hemisphere ski season, we were forced to cancel two ski trips because of COVID-19 border closures and restrictions. As winter continued, it became clear that the state borders wouldn’t open before the ski season finished and I started to mourn the loss of my skiing streak.
I have skied every year since 1983, a streak that I am proud of and has become a part of who I am. One year, I nearly missed out due to an unexpected trip back to the States but was able to hike up a glacier and ski one run to count the year.
As 2021 dragged on, I held onto the small hope that Australia’s international borders would open and I could return to Colorado to see my family and squeeze in a few runs before the year was over. Unfortunately, it became clear that South Australia’s international border restrictions would remain in place, making a list-minute trip unrealistic (if not ridiculously expensive).
Then, Omicron hit.
How a Summer Camping Trip Saved My Ski Streak
The Omicron variant of COVID-19 hit Australia in December of 2021 and with its arrival, health restrictions and state borders snapped back into place around the country. Because of Western Australia’s hard border closure, the caravan park in Fowlers Bay, on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula, had last-minute Christmas holiday cancellations and we were able to book a campsite.
With a last-minute holiday booked, I started researching possible activities.
Fowlers Bay is a 10-hour drive from Adelaide and very near the WA border. The small town sits at the end of an unpaved road and is surrounded by ocean, scrubland and sand dunes. The dunes are good for 4WDriving and sandboarding and make up part of the Fowlers Bay Conservation Park.
I got excited reading about dunes because an idea started to form in my mind. After a bit of research, I determined that with the proper wax it was theoretically possible to ski on sand dunes, which is how we ended up driving to the middle of nowhere during the Australian summer with a car packed full of camping gear and my old snow skis strapped to the top.
The dunes and sandhills around Fowlers Bay are much bigger than I expected. They are made up of clean, white and golden sand that ripples in the flatter sections and crests in large sweeping curves. The dunes are firm in some spots and soft in others, and they change regularly with the winds (and there is a lot of wind at Fowlers Bay).
There is a designated 4WD route through the dunes which leads drivers to the beach on the other side of Point Fowler. It is highly recommended that you have 4WD experience if you intend to drive across the dunes. It is also possible to reach the dunes from town; simply walk to the end of the short street – the town is only about 250 metres long.
Skiing on sand was nothing like skiing on snow. There is a huge difference in slide-ability and once the sand got on top of my skis, it was heavy and difficult to kick off. Turning was nearly impossible. Even getting my old ski boots on was difficult. Everything was warm and sticky. (And, unfortunately, we were unable to purchase or borrow sandboarding wax from town.)
Walking back up the dunes was also hard work. With every step upwards, I slid back down at least half a step.
We tried a few different dune ‘faces’ and some were easier to slide down than others. Hubby brought his old snowboard, which slid better on the sand than my skis. Our friends borrowed the caravan park’s sandboard, which worked about as well as the snowboard.
In the end, we managed about six ‘runs’. While it wasn’t the most enjoyable skiing experience I’ve ever had, it was certainly one of the most unique.
I did, however, slide downhill on my skis in 2021, so I am considering my skiing streak intact!
What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done to keep a streak alive?