tagErotic CouplingsTrailing Along

Trailing Along


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[Many thanks to my volunteer editor LadyVer, whose helpful investment of time made this a much better story.]

* * *

I was inching my car across the icy parking lot of the Mill Creek Ranger Station when I first saw her: alone on the shoulder of California Highway 38, a pair of skis crooked in one arm, and her thumb pointing up the road toward the mountain resorts at Big Bear Lake. It had been years since I'd seen anyone hitchhiking, much less a lone female.

I watched in disbelief as car after car whizzed by her. From a distance she seemed fairly attractive—about my age, maybe a little older. Dressed in a gray and navy ski sweater and a light blue nylon bib. I could see her boot bag on the ground with a parka lying on top. Her wavy mane of strawberry blonde hair lifted up with the draft from each passing car.

What a stroke of luck! A cute gal needs a ride—I'd better get my ass over there quickly. I stomped on the gas, but my folly was met with the whine of spinning tires on the slippery pavement. Slow and easy was the only way. I was sure some guy would pull over and pick her up before I could get there.

It was excruciating watching her wave her thumb at numerous passing cars while mine barely moved in her direction. Somehow I was the first one to stop. I lowered the passenger window and asked if she needed a ride to Big Bear. I don't mean to sound shallow, but she had a noticeably full bosom that even her bulky sweater and bib couldn't hide—but I would have stopped anyway.

"What makes you think I'm going skiing?" she quipped, looking over my car and checking me out for any warning signs. I saw a season pass to Big Bear Mountain Resorts clipped to her bib. She stepped closer and noticed my skis poking through the fold-down section of the back seat.

"That's nifty. I didn't see a ski rack, so I was concerned you were just driving around looking for helpless women to lure into your car."

I put the cark in park and got out. "Hi, I'm Jim. I've got a full day of skiing planned. I'd be happy to take you up the mountain. Are you going to Snow Summit or Bear Mountain?"

"I was thinking Snow Summit. I was at Bear last week. How about you?"

"I could do either, but Summit sounds good. What happened to your car?"

"No chains. My truck has them, but it wouldn't start this morning. I had to drive my Honda. I knew I could be stuck on the side of the road bumming a ride if they had chain control today. You've got them, I hope?"

"Sure. That's why I stopped at the ranger station—to see if they were required today. I figured they would be, after the storm yesterday."

She was looking in the car for clues about me, reassurances that I was no danger to her. I keep a spotless interior. The only thing visible was a CD I was about to slip in before I noticed her hitching.

"Oh, I'm Sandy, by the way. Thanks for stopping."

We shook hands—mine were bare and hers in wool gloves that matched her sweater. She was only a few inches shorter and had the posture and body language of an athlete.

"So what's it going to cost me for the ride?" She had a winsome twinkle in her eye as she waited for my answer.

"Sandy, your pleasant company will be enough." I tried to keep good eye contact and not ogle her chest.

"OK, that I can handle." She leaned over and grabbed her parka and boot bag. "Pop the trunk. Fresh snow awaits us."

I got her gear stowed and pointed to the box holding the snow chains. "See, ready for anything."

"I'm glad you stopped. I've been out here a lot longer than I expected. I guess drivers these days are afraid to pick up a hitchhiker. Even a woman. Or else I'm getting too old to turn a man's head. Would you have given me a ride if I were a guy?"

"Probably. If he seemed like someone I wouldn't be afraid to have sitting next to me on the way up."

"You aren't afraid of me, are you?"

"No, you seem like a good person." I opened the door for her. She gave me a wink and a grin as she slipped in.

She was tugging at her seat belt as I slid behind the wheel. The bulkiness of her clothing and breasts made it hard for her to get it clicked the first time. She caught me off guard when she explained her difficulties.

"I know I've got big boobs. I want to break the ice on that topic and get it out on the table. Guys have been staring at 'em for twenty years now, so I don't want you to feel like you have to look away. Just try to keep your eyes on the road some of the time. OK?"

I had to laugh. I don't think I'd ever had a woman put me at ease on that matter, right up front like she did.

"Fair enough, Sandy. I like your style."

As we pulled away she looked over the CD I had out.

"Fire on the Mountain? Is this what I think it is? Oh, wow, it is! Reggae artists covering Grateful Dead songs. Now I'm certain the right car stopped." She slipped in the disc, and the first notes of The Wailing Souls version of "Casey Jones" filled the car. Sandy let out a squeal and started to boogie in her seat as we headed up the highway to Big Bear.

* * *

Minutes later it seemed like we were the best of friends. She was very easy to talk to. Laughed at all my jokes, got the obscure references I peppered my conversation with. Her wit was dry and self-deprecating. She had me laughing, too. I was really fortunate to have her along for the ride. I had taken that Friday off to beat the weekend crowds; she had a flexible work schedule but didn't offer any details at first.

It wasn't long before we saw the area where cars were pulled over to "chain up." I saw one driver arguing with a Highway Patrolman—who made him turn around and head back down.

"I wonder how much they're charging this year to put on chains," I said. A crew of men in yellow slickers and knee pads were offering their services for those who weren't up to the task.

Sandy spoke up. "You don't have to pay. I can do it. That'll be my contribution."

"No, you're a guest. I'll take care of it."

"Horse hockey! I said I'd do it. I know you think a woman can't handle it, but I live on a ranch by myself. I work with my hands all the time. Pull over and open the trunk. I'll get them out."

I wasn't going to argue; she seemed confident enough. My work gloves were too big for her to use, so she had to go barehanded to keep from ruining her good ones. She quickly got the chains lined up under the wheels and motioned for me to pull forward. She had them hooked up in less than two minutes.

"Shit! Why'd I leave my other gloves back in the truck?" she griped, rubbing her cold, wet hands together in front of the heater grille.

I got a wave of approval from the CHP and pulled back onto the highway. Sandy looked over at me as she put her gloves back on.

"I hope that wasn't too tomboy for you. Really, it's no big deal. I have to do stuff like that all the time on the ranch. All part of the romance of horse ownership."

A horse ranch. A crazy montage of women and horses from years gone by floated through my head: Elizabeth Taylor in National Velvet, Dale Evans on Buttermilk, various actresses who played Annie Oakley—even fashion magazine cowgirls in Ralph Lauren ads, smartly attired and adorned with turquoise jewelry.

"Jim, do you ride?" Sandy's question snapped me out of my daydream.

"I used to. When I was at summer camp as a kid. Every day. That's been a while. I've done a few guided trail rides here and there since then, but it's not a regular thing. I'm still comfortable on horseback, though. Never have been thrown. Yet."

"That's something to be proud of. I've kissed the ground many times over the years, but that's part of the deal when you've got ornery mounts in your stable. The three I've got now are good ones. Even mountain bikes on the trails don't seem to bother them."

We chatted away about her horses and ranch the rest of the way up. I couldn't help but feel attracted to a confident, capable woman like Sandy. It was very sexy in a way. Her "twenty years" comment about her boobs would make her mid-30s, maybe a year or two older than I was.

I should point out one thing about the people who ski locally in Southern California. It's a "regular Joe & Jane" kind of crowd. The rich folks all go out of state to ski at bigger resorts with fancier amenities. For day skiing locally there's no need to pay for a plane ticket or lodging, so anyone with a steady job can afford to do it. All you need is money for gas, skis, a lift ticket—and a car that starts.

* * *

We reached the village of Big Bear and drove past the small airport and the turnoff for Bear Mountain. I normally don't come up the back way on 38 since it takes longer; but I knew the shorter routes would be crammed with cars, each one after the same new snow we were about to enjoy. I was glad to have Sandy as company on the drive. I figured she'd thank me and be on her way once we got to Snow Summit and parked the car, but she surprised me.

"Why don't we ski together for a few runs? It's more fun with a partner. Can you handle intermediate trails?"

"Sure, that'd be great. But I was going to take a refresher lesson. This is my first day out this season, and I'd like to escape the plateau of mediocrity I've been stuck on."

"I can give you a private lesson—if you don't mind being ordered around by a woman. You can buy me lunch with the money you'll save. Deal?"

After putting on our ski boots, we trudged up to the base so I could get my lift ticket. Sandy suggested we go right to the top and take an easy run so she could see how well I skied.

"We'll come down Summit Run. It'll be a good warm-up for your first time out."

We didn't say much on the lift since we were sitting next to a pair of young snowboarders who acted like we were their parents. Sandy took off smoothly and stopped partway down the trail so she could analyze my technique. It was a little intimidating, skiing in front of a woman to whom I was becoming sexually attracted. That, plus the fact I'm not much of an athlete to begin with. I was tense and fearful and almost fell a few times.

"OK, the number one problem is you're too stiff. And scared. You're leaning back on your turns instead of forward. Let's ski down to the cutoff for Chair 3. Stick with me and I'll give you some pointers and corrections as we go."

Sandy was a patient instructor. She seemed genuinely invested in my getting better, and I was focused on not letting her down. We did the run two more times. I was improving but still hadn't made the breakthrough I was reaching for. I couldn't shake the fear and stiffness holding me back. When we got to the bottom again, I made a little joke.

"Sometimes I think I ski better when I'm stoned. I'm more relaxed and fearless."

"Really? Do you have some weed with you?"

"Actually, I do. A joint in my pocket. And a lighter."

"Then get it fired up as soon as we're on the next lift. I forgot my stash back in the truck. Let's take Chair 5—it's a double so we'll have some privacy."

After we were airborne on the lift, I took off my gloves and got out the joint. Sandy stuffed her gloves in her parka and cupped her hands around mine as I flicked my lighter. It was the first time I'd gotten a close look at them. They were feminine but hadn't seen a manicurist in some time: rough, with short nails and no polish. A few cuts and scrapes were in various stages of healing.

I felt ashamed my initial reaction was distaste. After all, how did I think those tire chains got hooked up that morning? I'd never known a woman who worked outdoors. I was a wussy city boy who never did anything more demanding than stir coffee at my desk job.

Before Sandy took her second hit, she offered to "shotgun" me. I hadn't done that with anybody in a long time.

Sandy took a long drag and leaned in close, one hand grazing my cheek. Our lips were almost touching as I inhaled the smoke from her mouth. My cock swelled up instantly. I quickly forgot about what her hands looked like.

"Now I'll return the gesture," I offered, taking a hit off the joint and pulling her close to me. My fingers teased her hair as she inhaled.

"Mmmm ... that was nice," she sighed, exhaling and brushing her fingertips across my mouth.

I put away the pot, and we both put our gloves back on. Sandy gave my thigh a squeeze.

"Getting your instructor high isn't going to make her go easy on you. If anything, I'll be harder since you promised a new, relaxed version of yourself."

Well, she wouldn't be the only one getting harder. My erection was as solid as the tree trunks passing below us. She gave me a sexy smile as we both got ready to get off the lift.

I hate to admit I relied on performance enhancing drugs, but my skiing improved noticeably on the next run. Sandy was shouting words of encouragement and praise as we hurtled down the hill. We went up again and moved over to the Timber Ridge intermediate trail. It was amazing how loose and confident I felt. I was finally able to keep up with her speed and maneuvers—well, almost.

We were back up at the top when she suggested we take one more run down before getting the lunch I owed her. "I think you're ready for a black diamond run. Let's do Log Chute. It's got a section toward the bottom for advanced skiers."

Off we went. We sped down the upper part of the trail like a pair of pros. Sandy pulled up at the top of the expert section.

"Let me go first. Wait about three seconds and follow my path down. I know you can handle it."

It was the steepest trail I'd ever been on, but I took off right behind her. It was very demanding physically. I quickly tired and felt the early twinges of panic as my speed increased. I never would have chosen to go down such a difficult trail on my own, but I didn't want to disappoint Sandy after she had spent her entire morning with me.

She pulled away as I began skiing more cautiously. Somehow I summoned a burst of energy to help regain my speed. My body shrugged off its fatigue as the lessons and practice pulled everything together. I sped up and locked into the zone—one with the slope.

Sandy reached the bottom and turned back to watch my final descent. She shouted out to me: "Perfect. Lookin' good. Great turns. You've got it."

I planned to speed right up to her and do a last second stop, hoping I could show off and do a fancy spray of snow in the process. Well, I did, but I misjudged my momentum and toppled into her. Down we went in a tangle of skis.

We were both spitting out unexpected mouthfuls of snow. I tried to get up, but my skis were caught up in hers. Our bodies inadvertently shifted to the missionary position as we wriggled around. I could feel her breasts squash under my weight. A woman from the ski patrol walked over and looked down at us.

"You two should get a room," she joked. Sandy and I couldn't help but laugh as she bent down and released the binding from my top ski and lifted me up. "OK, lover boy. Help me get your sweetheart off the ground."

After the ski patrol gal walked away, Sandy put her hand on my shoulder. "Jim, if you wanted to make out, all you had to do was ask," she teased. "Let's take the lift up to the View Haus restaurant. I'm hungry."

* * *

I hate the crowds and chaos at ski resort cafeterias, but often it's the only game in town. Our food was unremarkable, as was the beer and wine selection; but we had a chance to exchange more information about ourselves. She had been divorced for two years; I was in-between girlfriends. Neither of us had kids.

"After my divorce I returned to work part-time. The alimony alone isn't enough to keep the ranch going. My real estate license is still active, and I get occasional business from old clients and other people I've known for years. My steadiest work is from appraisals. I specialize in ranch properties. My clients are typically banks, estates, and auction houses."

"Where is your ranch?"

"Do you know where Oak Glen is? No? How about Yucaipa? OK, Oak Glen is six miles east of there. I'm about a mile or so before you get to Oak Glen."

Somehow we got on the topic of relationships. She had some tragically funny stories about dates with various "Mr. Wrong" types. I could tell my own sad tales, too. It almost became a competition to see who could relate the most pathetic experiences. I gave the prize to Sandy when she told me about one disastrous night: an accumulation of gaffes, insults, and clueless behavior by some oaf she ended up giving a mercy fuck to after having too much to drink.

"I was mortified when I awoke the next morning cuddled up against this loser. I seriously thought about chewing my arm off so I could escape without waking him."

I thought that was hilarious. It was the first time I'd heard someone refer to what people started calling "coyote ugly": bad choices in sex partners who made you feel so desperate to get free the next morning you'd rather gnaw off a limb than wake them—like a coyote caught in a trap.

"No, it wasn't my finest hour," she admitted. "Haven't had sex since. Boy, it's been way too long—well over a year. How about you?"

"Almost a year for me."

"What's wrong with us? We should be getting laid all the time."

"I guess we've been too picky about who we jump in bed with." Yeah, right. The ones being picky were the women who gave me the brush-off.

"Well, you've got a much larger dating pool in L.A. It's pretty shallow out here. The few city guys I meet think I'm too country, but the local guys are too rough for me. Most of them are sexist and macho to the max. And that's just for starters."

We both shook our heads and finished our drinks. I thanked her again for giving up her morning to tutor me. I expected she would take off on her own after lunch, but she wanted to stay together.

"I'm having fun, and I know you're a reliable ride back down to my car, and ..." she said, with a shrug and a smile. I thought the look she gave me hinted at more, but maybe I was imagining it.

We spent the afternoon skiing together. I was able to go on several more black diamond trails, but I began to tire and wanted to go back to less challenging runs. I was in shape physically, but skiing taxes different muscles—the same as horseback riding.

"No problem. If you're getting tired, then skip the expert runs. That's how people get hurt, not knowing when to ease off."

Fortunately there were numerous places on the mountain where we could each choose a separate trail that fit our abilities but then easily meet up at the bottom. Before long, the afternoon sun was fading into the golden hour. Sandy suggested we do one more run.

"Let's do Miracle Mile. You've made remarkable improvement since your first run this morning. I think we have a good rhythm when we ski together. It feels natural. And exciting when we can go hard and fast."

Was there innuendo in those words?

After riding the express lift, we hit the ground and started our last run of the day. Sandy shouted over to me: "Partway down there's an alternate trail to the bottom. Near the top of Chair 11. It's very steep at first. But if you're feeling confident when we get there, I'd like to do it with you."

I tried not to read too much into her comment. Yes, she'd been flirting with me almost from the time I picked her up, but I never like to be presumptuous about first-time sex with someone I'd just met.

Miracle Mile is the longest run at Snow Summit: moderately challenging, but it allows the average skier to descend at a fast pace without worrying about hazards. The view of the lake and the surrounding mountains is awe inspiring. We had finished smoking the joint after lunch, so I still had a nice, mellow buzz going.

Sandy and I skied as close together as we could safely. We both fell silent to the sounds of our skis racing over the snow. Long, languid turns allowed our speed to increase. I don't think I'd ever been so in sync with another woman on the slopes. Sure, I had skied with girlfriends and other female friends before, but that day with Sandy felt different. Almost like a slow, sensuous fuck with her on top. I imagined how nice her strong thighs would feel around my hips.

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