I guess it’s not really a trip, per say, but most definitely a stumble, tumble and fall. I was reminded this weekend of my long history of skiing when we piggybacked on my son’s boy scout ski trip to Timberline Resort in West Virginia this weekend. It was hard not to take advantage of the group rate only a couple of hours from DC.
Those of you who know me well, can most definitely concur that I am not the most coordinated person on the planet. So envisioning me gracefully swooshing down the slopes might be a little bit hard to swallow. I remember being so proud of myself one particular ski trip in which many of my extended family were in attendance. I was reveling in the fact that they were actually shocked that it was ME that that had seen swaying to and fro with reasonable ability. I can attest, that after 30 odd years of skiing, I have finally reached the designation of a solid intermediate skier. 30 years sounds like a wealth of experience, but in actuality, it is not. Even though I’ve been schlepping down the slopes since I was about 15, I generally only have the opportunity to participate in this activity only once or twice a season, and sometimes not even every year. The result is that I essentially need to re-learn how to clamber down the mountain virtually every time I go.
I don’t remember exactly where I went on my first foray into the world of this exciting recreational undertaking, but being that I lived in Philly and it was only an hour or so to get there, I can assure you that hill was probably a more accurate way to describe the mountain that I first hit the slopes. I was first introduced to the fine art of snowplowing (pointing your skis into a v-shaped position to slow you down until you learn how to control your skis and your speed) and learning how to tackle a tow rope. Because I didn’t know better, and because I didn’t actually own any snow pants, I was dressed in a layer of long johns and jeans. Needless to say by the end of the day, with all of the time I spent picking myself off of the snow, I was frozen to the core. Snow has an amazing ability to find its way into an awful lot of cracks and crevices that you didn’t know that you had.
The equipment that I rented where such that they came with a strap around your ankle and the boots were set to release easily from the skis as a beginner. It truly seemed as though I could go no more than 10 feet without me falling out of my skis and tumbling down into the snow. I swear those first few years I probably wore more snow than I skied on. One time I took such a hard tumble several hundred yards down the mountain (and yes, of course my skis were still up there too) that I was actually thinking to myself, “Holy crap, am I laying dead here?” But, it did not matter because I got such a huge adrenaline rush when I actually did get it right and raced down the mountain, there was no turning back. I loved it so much that first time that my cousin and I actually climbed up the mountain after the tow ropes had shut off just so that we could have one more run before we left. I had caught the skiing bug, and every opportunity that presented itself had me signing up for more.
Ah, there were many lessons that I’ve learned over the years. Don’t wear two pairs of socks as the thickness around your ankles cuts off your circulation to your feet and causes toes and feet that are FREEZING! This also results in a huge bruise that wraps all the way around your ankles and makes even walking hurt. When you are skiing down a beginner hill such as described above, and doing relatively well making it down to the bottom does not necessarily qualify you as an expert. I can attest to this when I tried a black diamond on a bigger mountain and the only way that I was making it down that trail was by removing my skis and making my way down to a much more reasonable slope. This also resulted in much swearing and cursing by the more seasoned veterans trying to make their way past me as well as the humiliating experience of the two foot nothing toddler swooshing up to me and asking, “Are you ok, ma’am?”. I have indeed skied with frostbite warnings which chastised you to cover every inch of exposed skin–and learned that even with a neoprene mask covering your nose and face, your snots do indeed freeze inside of your nose in weather such as this.
Partaking in this sport has resulted in some terrific memories on trips throughout high school to upper New York, mini jaunts to the Poconos to further hone my prowess, taking over chalets with my college buddies in Vermont that resulted in a week of laughter and camaraderie that would be hard pressed to duplicate in any other fashion, getting to know my future husband on an awesome trip to Lake Placid with some friends (to which I was very thankful that they have a lodge at the top, middle and base of the mountain to ease my wobbly old knees as I quickly came to realize that skiing once a year at 30 is rougher on your bod than at 15) and now happily sharing my love of this wonderful cold weather diversion with my kids who now also have caught the bug.
It’s funny though, I was thinking to myself. Hmm. I thought I remember going down the hills a whole lot faster all those years ago. True. I only fell once on my latest trip (I was trying to hit every gate that they had set up on a slalom course, and made it 3/4 of the way through! Not bad for a middle aged hag!). I’m not truly sure if I’m actually better, or if I just don’t want to have to pick myself up off the ground repeatedly if I go any faster.
I really love that this is an amazing family activity to become involved in. Yeah, I guess it can be a pricey undertaking, but we don’t do it very often, and it creates such wonderful memories, I think it’s worth it. It’s very cool to see the range of people this pastime attracts. You can just as easily spy a toddler who can just about walk than an 80 year old grandmother tooling down the wintry terrain. It’s a very cool equalizer of sorts. I’m hoping I’ll be able to keep up with my kids as they hopefully continue honing their skills. I asked my youngest if he thinks he’ll be heading down the double diamonds someday, and of course he said, “Oh yeah”. Hopefully, I be able to join him…even if I’m 80.