When my husband first asked me if I had ever been skiing, I gave an enthusiastic response. After all, one of my favorite memories growing up was a day trip to the ski slopes with friends. I remembered the thrill of arriving at the ski resort, making my way up the slope on a rope pull, and the sheer freedom of heading downhill fast. I thought it would be like riding a bike; I would put those skis back on and it would all come back to me.
What I did not take into consideration was that my only skiing experience was in the Midwest. Wondering why that matters? The top elevation at Perfect North Slopes in Indiana is 800 feet. The highest point at Stevens Pass in Washington? 5,845 feet.
Nothing could have prepared me for the difference between skiing on a man-made slope in Indiana and skiing on a mountain in Washington.
But I still confidently bundled up in ski gear, snapped on my rented skis, and headed towards the chairlift.
And fell flat on my face.
That’s right. Between the lodge and the chairlift was the smallest of slopes down. I didn’t even make it to the chairlift to get up an actual ski run before toppling into a pile of awkward limbs and wayward skis. Not off to a great start.
Confidence (and tailbone) bruised, I still carried on. Dozens of more skilled skiers and snowboarders zoomed past me on each run, confidently in control of their movements. The ease in which they navigated the slopes left me awestruck – and a little insecure. And not just because some of these more skilled skiers were children under the age of 6… though that didn’t help as I struggled down the bunny slope, I assure you.
I kept reminding myself of a few things throughout this adventure: this is the first time I have attempted skiing as an adult; this is meant to be a fun experience, so don’t take yourself so seriously; and my personal favorite, you may have taken the chairlift up, but the only way down is on skis.
Yes, skiing terrifies me. Honestly the thought of going up a mountain knowing the only way down is at high speeds fills me with anxiety. Despite my husband’s best efforts to direct my ski positions by yelling “PIZZA!” and “FRENCH FRY!”, I did not quickly adapt to slowing down or stopping gracefully on the slopes. I prefer, as it turns out, the “Bat Out of Hell” ski method. (Less popular, more dangerous. Sorry, mom.)
But in the end, it was worth it.
There is magic in spending the day skiing. The views are breathtaking. Getting to the top of a run and looking out at a snow-covered mountainside as the sun sets is an experience I will never forget. We are so incredibly lucky to live in a place where this is even a possibility.
The cold air is revitalizing and the overall feeling is indescribable. I don’t think I’ve ever felt cold like the kind that surrounds you as you slice through the mountain air in the middle of winter, with the fresh falling snow swirling around you as you fly down. And though there are people around you, the experience is entirely your own.
Getting to the bottom of the run and looking back up at the distance covered is an incredible feeling, too. It inspires a sense of accomplishment and confidence. It’s a representation of the sheer distance you traveled and the obstacles you overcame. And it tricks you into getting back in the chairlift and heading up to the top to do it all over again.
It’s a humbling and invigorating experience, filled with the wonders of nature. The quiet of a snow-covered world brings a unique feeling, both peaceful and exhilarating.
You’ll feel the lasting effects of the day – body, mind, and soul. It’s adrenaline paired with exhaustion, and the hot toddy at the end is well deserved.
Next time, though, I think I’ll start the day with a professional lesson.
Grab a friend, pick a direction and go – a magnificent adventure awaits.