The temperatures are falling along the Adirondack Coast and I’ve taken my last kayak trip of 2014. The falling temperatures and recent snowfall has me thinking of a little trip I took last winter to try out a more fast-paced approach to snow, skiing.
I had never made an attempt at downhill skiing. I tend to be better suited to a slower pace within the natural speed limitations of the human body. I know this. I have experienced first hand the results of attempting to maintain balance while moving far beyond the speed I was built for. Just a few months before taking this downhill skiing journey, I had experienced a beautifully disastrous water skiing adventure. I convinced myself that downhill skiing would be much better for me and not come with the same messy results. I have been out on cross-country skis and fared quite well on the downhill slides, so I figured I’d give real downhill skiing a go.
So early on a Sunday morning I made my way out to Titus Mountain with an experienced skier alongside to show me the ropes. Titus Mountain was suggested to me for my first attempt because of the varying terrain options of its 36 trails that range from beginner (my speed) to advanced.
The crew at the ski center got me all decked out with the gear needed and off we went (to the training hill of course). I have lived within an hour’s drive of Titus Mountain for the majority of my life. Now at 32 years I find myself standing at the top of Titus Mountains smallest hill. I felt like a giant surrounded by very experienced and seemingly fearless children. I, on the other hand, did not approach this hill with the same fearless abandon as the kids. With long sweeping switchbacks and mastering the “pizza”, I very slowly made my way from the top. Thirty seconds into skiing and I felt that rush. The wind in my hair, the sound of the snow under my skis, and in the distance the screaming fear I had bottled up inside was subsiding. This sking thing is pretty fun!
We did a few runs at the learning center for some added confidence before making our way up for a longer run. Titus Mountain has very well-marked trails so I felt good keeping to the “easier” trails. My nerves were on high alert as we started down. I think I was most concerned with falling and didn’t want anyone to notice that I was the new guy. So with my heart in my throat we were off. Gliding along with the grace of a skilled skier I could feel my confidence growing by the second. That blast of cold air as I go rushing down the mountain. Rushing through the trees. Rushing through the……Rushing! My confidence suddenly dropped off when I realised that my speed had exceeded the limits of my natural ability. I looked up at the sign ahead of me indicating my trail was to the left. Panicked, every muscle in my body tensed up as I started my turn. Then, as quickly as my confidence had vanished, it happened. That same beautiful disaster I remember from water skiing. Snow, sky, snow, sky I tumbled leaving a trail of skis and ski poles in my wake. The snow cushioned fall was gentle (as falling goes). I surveyed my surroundings as I gathered up all the loose bits. Like a Ski ninja I managed to fall with the grace of a fish out of water and not be noticed. by the other skiers. I Put myself back together, and started along again.
This scenario repeated at least five more times before I made my way to the bottom. Each time very similar to the last. I would reach that tipping point speed, tense, and hit the snow. So I wasn’t quite at the Olympic skiing level quite yet, but I can officially state that I have gone skiing. I’m sure I’d give it another go if the opportunity came up. Maybe a bit more time hanging with the skills of the youngsters in the learning center would be in order.
The snow is falling as I write this and I’m sure Titus Mountain will open up the slopes soon for me to get back out there. In the meantime I’ll keep my speed within the confines of my known limits on the hiking trails.