My thighs burn as I trudge up the steep sand dune and squint into the blaring sun. Mimicking Mads, I hold my board across my shoulders and focus on stepping on the almost invisible path. Looking toward the crest of the hill, I mechanically order my legs to move forward one leg at a time. How the hell do people run up these in movies? Reaching the top, I take a moment to bury the bottom of my board into the shifting grains beneath me. Jagged, sandy mountains stretch across the horizon, the furthermost tips dusted in snow. I look at the criss crossing tracks across the ground and admire the view. A perfect excuse to catch my breath.
Thighs straining in protest, I toss my board over one shoulder and move up the ridge of the sand dune. I nod hello as I pass a few other sand boarders and huff and puff ’till I reach Mads at the highest point. I flop onto my butt in the warm sand, flipping my board over and beginning to draw wax circles across it. Once satisfied that it’s completely covered, I flip it over and buckle my feet in. Extending into a standing position, I hop forward, pulling my green bandana up over my nose. I watch Mads cruise down the dune, gracefully leaning into the hill to get more speed. Our guide gives her an admiring whistle that echoes across the valley and I join in with a guttural howl. Show off. I tip my board over the edge of the hill.