I’m a late bloomer when it comes to skiing, and I blame it all on socioeconomic oppression. Seriously!
When I was growing up in New Jersey, I lived in a neighborhood that my parents could barely afford. Consequently, most of my friends’ families had much more money than my family had.
One of the more painful experiences born of that situation hit me hard in high school, when all of my friends could afford to join the ski club, but I could not. Neither of my parents were skiers, so we never went as a family, and then, suddenly, my closest friends would take off every weekend for the mountains, coming back to school on Mondays with exciting tales of their adventures, adventures they had without me.
The worst was a trip the ski club took to Canada, including several nights in a hotel, and the stories of the hijinks from that trip are legendary.
You can imagine the hours of torture I endured, hearing these stories over and over again, for years, not to mention all the talk about the actual skiing, about the snow conditions, and about their latest gear. It was brutal and I developed quite a grudge against the sport, since developing a grudge against my friends would have only led to more alienation.
I finally tried skiing during a winter break from college, on a trip to visit friends in Lyme, New Hampshire. The slopes, typical for the northeast, were unforgiving hard-packed and icy, and I fell, a lot, and I hurt for at least a week.
I didn’t go to a ski area again for nearly 10 years, and considering that many of those years I lived here in Bellingham, an hour away from Mt. Baker, the grudge seemed to be holding its ground.
In 2007, I finally succumbed to enormous peer pressure, the product of being surrounded by skiers and snowboarders, and made my first trip to Mt. Baker for an activity other than hiking. I chose snowboarding, hoping that it might actually be easier than skiing, because, um, there was only one device sliding on the snow instead of one on each foot.
But then, this funny thing happened. Despite the fact that snowboarding brought back all the horrendous physical memories of that miserable experience in New Hampshire, which was tied to all the pain of being left out of ski club in high school, despite the fact that I fell so hard so many times over the course of three trips to the mountain that I ended up in physical therapy…
…I had a blast! If all I did was drive up to Mt. Baker in the winter for the scenery it would be worth it, but to go there with my wife and son and spend the day playing in the snow was more fun than I had had, than we as a family had had together, in a long time.
At the end of that season, I tried skiing again and it was a revelation! WAY more intuitive, it by no means came easy to me, but I was able to stay upright consistently, able to make progress, and by the end of my second season I was able to ski on intermediate trails.
And so, it’s still October but I already have skiing on the brain. I read in the Herald that the first significant snow had fallen at Mt. Baker, I checked the snow report, and the photo I’ve posted here got me incredibly excited.
Life is full of surprises, and it’s a heck of a lot more fun without grudges.
Seeya on the slopes!