Eitherway I can't wait to get back at it!
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Welcome to the one-plank world! If you survived some semi-icy runs and aren't discouraged you're doing especially great.
Regarding getting up from the snow - flip your board over so that you're facing uphill. You'll find it's much easier to get up.
Welcome to the dark side - bwa ha ha ha ha!
Easier to get up on your toe side edge - facing uphill from a kneeling position.
You'll find it easier to get up from a sitting position when on the flats to begin with until you build up your ab strength and balance skills to stay up without falling back down. Once you've been riding a while, it's easier to get up from sitting on steeper terrain. Just practice on the flats a couple of times each time out and you'll eventually get it.
I felt your pain. When I started riding I had back trouble. It took me 5 minutes of agony to get my back foot strapped in. Step ins were a life saver for me. Now the back is healed and I can get strapped in standing up after first kicking the heel edge into the snow.
You would benefit from a good lesson or three, IMHO, solves so many of these questions. I started boarding that way, in 1994, use to ski before that.
As per buckling in, try to find a flat spot at the start of a run and step into the biding standing up, usually by flipping the board perpendicular to the fall line so it won't move while you buckle in.. This will be tricky at first, but it is a good test of balance.
Learn to hop with both feet buckled in, very handy.
Get knee pads and wrist protectors. Most board shops never mention the need for them, and its almost criminal. Especially for learning, you will be going along just fine and then catch an edge and go down hard.
As you learn to ride, start trying to carve turns. Its key.
Good luck! It's fun.
You're doing far better than I did at this stage in your boarding career. What part of the country are you in? If in the Northeast, hopefully you'll be able to make it to Okemo one of these weekends. At some point you'll be ready to run a race course. I set snowboard gates on the NASTAR course most weekends.
Getting up always sucks for me as well. I am still fairly new to the snowboarding scene, being that I can only go a couple times a year living in Indiana, but I like facing up the hill to get up. My biggest weakness is losing my speed coming to a flat surface and stopping with no decline to get going. I'm getting used to going faster and being able to carry my speed, but out in CO where I have been, there are a couple spots where it gets flat and I end up stalling out.
For flats you need to be sure to wax your board with the right glider wax for the day.
Study maps and learn to read terrain. Staying on the high side of a trail even a bowl, even if it just a few feet higher, will give you and edge in maintaining speed.
Coming in with more speed obviously helps, of course.
Look at other boards who are making flats at similar speeds to yourself and follow their line.
Oh and WAX your board.
Keep having fun.
I suppose this is a legit bump, getting up off the ground heel side will become second nature after a while. Your body/brain just needs a chance to learn the necessary balance and pressure to stand. As you become more comfortable with the board shifting and moving a bit you can even start strapping in without ever sitting down. One trick is to kick the heelside into a more even section of the slope near the lift a few times and build yourself a little snow platform. Bend over, strap-in, and ride off! That can take some practice, but it keeps your butt off the cold snowy ground should you become comfortable enough with it.