WWOOFing at Redwood Inn

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Staying and working at Redwood Inn has been an amazing and fun experience; so much so that I extended my 2 week stay to 4 weeks! I’ve learned a lot, become a lot more used to winter life in snow country, made new friends, had new experiences, and of course spent plenty of time snowboarding – at a local ski field that on weekdays typically only has a handful of people on the slopes.

But enough about the boarding… I think I’ve already posted enough about my antics in that department! What about the work I do in order to earn my board, food and time off to rip up the slopes? Read on for more about what life as a ski lodge helper entails. Continue reading

Snowboarding: Can’t get enough

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As my Facebook friends would be well aware by now, I’ve been making the most of my downtime recently with plenty of boarding action on the slopes of Yamaboku Wild Ski Park here in Nagano. I’ve been lucky enough to be able to board with a regular customer of the lodge on several occasions, as well as staff from other nearby lodges, so I’m not always alone.

Not only has this provided company, but I’ve challenged myself to keep up with riders who are better than me, and that has led me to improve my skills significantly: I’m boarding faster, straighter and smoother. I can tackle steep black runs without too much trouble. I’m falling less and landing most of my jumps. I’m getting better at riding ‘backwards’ (natural instead of goofy). Tearing it up all over the mountain – piste, powder, bumps, tree runs.

Check out this short video of some of the best powder and runs from the past few weeks:

Snowboarding season begins!

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As many of you know, I’m currently WWOOFing at Redwood Inn Lodge in Nagano prefecture. Generally, I work from about 10am until 2pm, then eat lunch (usually prepared by the chef), and then I’m free for the rest of the afternoon and evening. And with lift passes available to staff for just 500yen ($5), it is worth it to go boarding, even just for a couple of hours until the lift closes at 4pm. But, after shovelling snow and doing other jobs all morning, it’s not that easy to muster up the energy to get all the gear on and head out for just a few runs, even at such a cheap price!

IMG_7491Having said that, I have been lucky enough to have a couple of full days off up until now, so I’ve taken full advantage of those out on the slopes. Naturally, after not riding for a whole year, it took a few runs to get used to the feeling again, but I seem to be back in the swing of things now and joyfully shredding up as much powder as possible. Continue reading

Come On Onsen!

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So at the moment I’m doing my second WWOOFing stint – this time at a ski lodge called Redwood Inn, in the mountains of Nagano prefecture. More to come on that later, but for now a story from my third day on the job:

Our main task for the day was to defrost the pipes of the Inn’s onsen. Several days ago the main onsen pipe that services the whole village stopped working; I think it was basically frozen over too. This was obviously a big deal for most of the inns here that rely on tourism in this season, because without an onsen to bathe in, basically all guests cancelled and the village has been empty. But they managed to get the source flowing again yesterday, and we had to then defrost our own pipes to allow the water to flow into the bath. Since the pipes have just been sitting for days with no hot water flowing through them, the whole outdoor onsen area got covered in a huge layer of snow and that in turn froze the pipes solid.

So, what does defrosting onsen pipes entail? Continue reading