Monday, January 5, 2009

"Is this Everest?"


Up until this past weekend, it had been 14 years since I last hit the slopes. It's not like I was ever a frequent skier, but it is something I once enjoyed. Now, Alabama's not particularly known for its ski resorts, or mountains, or snowfalls, although, we do have Mentone's Cloudmont ski resort. I've never been, but my best friend and I are planning a trip now.

Image by Jack Affleck, of Mentone's Cloudmont Ski Resort

The only other time I've been skiing was in Durango, CO at the Purgatory Ski Resort...somewhat larger (by "somewhat larger" I mean like Jupiter is "somewhat larger" than earth.) than Mentone or Obergatlinburg, where I was this weekend. I'd never before seen mountains like those in Colorado. I stuck to the beginner slopes for the most part there, and trust me, for a first timer, they were more than big enough!

Purgatory ski resort, somewhere on some slope...Image from Flickr

Purgatory lodge with fireworks! Image from Ski Daddy

Purgatory trail areas. Image by Jeff Butcher

I haven't been able to find my own pics from Colorado, but here's a few of the resort from the vast land of the interweb.

Ok, enough with the reminiscing. Every January, myself and a group of friends rent a cabin in the smokies and hang out around Gatlinburg for good times. A few of the folks always go skiing, but I'd never opted in before now. This time I just thought "why am I not doing this?" So, there you go! Of course I was a bit apprehensive, but I just kept telling myself, be loose, go, heck, just act like you know what you're doing, sometimes you'll surprise yourself by actually doing it! I've decided it's actually much harder to live with timidity than to just fling yourself into the open...that's true in a lot of areas of life actually. Sure, you risk a lot more, but you live a lot better.

Here I am with Wes in the background...I'm sure we'd just finised a run and I hadn't fallen this time.

Here's a shot up mid-way of the main slope from the bottom.

Nothing says flattering like padded suspender pants, a jacket 3-4 sizes too big, and boots that you're pretty sure are part of a Transformer.

My first trip down the bunny slope was a bit fearful, but I made it to the bottom incident free. Emboldened by that accomplishment, it was time to take on the beginner hill! All was well. I sailed down it like a season vet, shifting left, right, wedging, straightening...aces. I was loving it! Now Megan, she's a pretty seasoned skier and the look on her face said "go bigger" and then her mouth followed. So we did. Now, I sensed disaster and when I skied up to the edge of the hill and looked down. My first instinct was to wish ill upon my friend, but I just looked at her and said " this Everest?" She laughed and told me I could handle down I went with my friend Steph trailing me. I started going fast...very fast...much...much faster than my body is accustomed to going without being surrounded by 2000lbs of reinforced steel and a bucket seat.

As I raced towards the bottom of the hill, I decided that my lack of control and swelling amount of apprehension at the swiftly approching webbed fencing called for a quick "abort mission." My intention was to fall to my right and simply collapse and slow...however, I hit a small patch of ice right before this manuver and my weight shifted right and ever so slightly back. The result, was my right ski flinging itself from my boot latch and flipping end over end roughly 20 feet back up the hill while I slammed into the snow, turned a complete 180 and continued to rocket down the hill on my back, headfirst, and laughing like an idiot until I finally stopped in a crumpled mass near the midsection of the slope. Surely it was not the most graceful run I'd had that day, but as far as fun, it ranked #1.

Steph and I, pre "disaster." (turns out, she only skied about 10ft before deciding that dropping to her hands and knees and screaming for Megan was a much better plan than finishing the run. LOL!)

Here's the gang after a successful day of skiing. Steph, Wes, Meg, and myself...

After those shenanigans, we trudged back to the familiar safety of the "cub" runs having at least tried something a bit more grand and finished out the day with nothing but smiles and newly made memories. I can't wait to do it again. One of these days, after a bit of practice...I'm heading back to Colorado.

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