Up the Mountain and Down Again – A Skier’s Tale by Will C.
“Skiing is something little kids figure out how to do within the first 5-10 minutes of trying.”
That is the exact quote that I wrote on the Facebook event wall for a New Hampshire weekend ski trip with some friends. There was hesitation among some people to try skiing because they had never been before. Well, I had been skiing about three or four times before as a kid and I didn’t remember having any trouble. But then again, I also don’t remember learning how to ride a bike, but I’m sure I fell about two hundred times before I got it.
I should have known I was in for problems after the 40 minute chair lift ride that creaked and swayed and carried us above the clouds, to the top of the mountain. Right off the lift I slid down the first twenty degree slope on my back, collecting an unprecedented amount of snow underneath my jacket, and somehow, inside my t-shirt against my bare skin. Somehow I still had my confidence and pride intact. Unfortunately it didn’t take long to lose it all, as my first hill resulted in me colliding with a snowboarder who shrieked like a banshee as I helplessly steered right into her. This was also the first sign of a slight headache.
To explain the rest of my trip down the mountain in fair light, I want you to compare it to something. Have you ever stood up too quickly when you’ve had a headache? If it’s bad enough, you’ll get a quick shooting pain as the blood rushes to your head and you’ll feel dizzy. That’s gravity working against you. Now imagine a similar sensation, except instead of standing up too fast… you’re tumbling down a mountain. That’s gravity murdering you. No one on the entire mountain that day heard, “Are you okay?” from a stranger more times than I did. And after each one of my seemingly countless spills, my headache multiplied itself by two.
I wasn’t “The Little Engine that Could.” I was “The Little Engine that Would Have Given an Arm To Magically Appear At the Bottom of the Mountain.” Needless to say, I had to get down somehow. There was some walking, there was some wobbly skiing, and there was more falling. Mostly there were breaks where I planted myself in the snow and tried to resist the urge to throw up from my pulsating migraine.
Fortunately for you, and luckily for me, this story’s ending isn’t as grim as its start and finish. My two hour nightmare on snow came to a swift end as I was nearing the bottom of the mountain. Every beginner to intermediate skiier knows you don’t just fly straight down a slope because you’ll have no control and could seriously hurt yourself. Well since I was already at rock bottom I thought, “What the hell?” Balls to the wall, during that last stretch I just decided to go for it. No more attempting turns that made me spiral into the woods or attempting stops that made me faceplant into piles of snow. I was just going to go straight down. And by an act of God, I skied down the rest of that mountain in a straight line, right into the rental returns room.
The only thing I wanted to do in life, at the end of that day, was never ski again. The strangest part? Now, four days later, despite the soreness and bruises I still have, I want to give it another try. Maybe it’s because I’m stupid. Maybe it’s because my triumphant finish teased me into thinking I could do it again. Maybe it’s the fact that I’d like to prove to myself that if little children can ski, I can too. But whatever the reason, no amount of money could get me to the top of a mountain again without a bottle Advil, a first aid kit, and an axe… Just in case it turns out I can’t get down again and have to build a house.