I’ve never exactly held a desire to go play in the snow. Yes, as I child I loved to go sledding in my Midwest hometown and I could never complain when school closed due to snowy conditions. However, I only enjoyed the actual “sledding” part of sledding, you know the part where your gliding on top of the snow, moving at a high rate of speed, but that’s where it ended. Actually, I would have to say my enjoyment started to fade midway down the hill when the cold air began freezing my face, and then it completely vanished when I would come to a stop and notice the frozen water that snuck it’s way under my warm layers as it burned my skin. I would then pick up my sled and turn to face the steep hill I was going to have to trudge up to get to the starting line again; how fleeting is the fun of sledding.
Flash-forward to my teenage years and I’m at a ski resort. I am there to try out skiing at midnight on machine-produced snow. I’m with a group of friends and feeling confident, I know this will be different from sledding. I can easily control my pace with my legs and the stick, pole things I hold in my hands. I take a small ten-minute intro course with an instructor and off I go down the bunny slopes. I feel excited but also a little uncomfortable thanks to the many layers I have on. I actually can’t put my arms all the way down (similar to that of Randy in A Christmas Story). I glide down the bunny slope with ease but due to its small size, find myself repeating history and trudging up the slope just like with sledding. Once at the top, I again glide down with ease, I’m ready for the bigger slopes.
My friends and I line up at a bigger slope and we all push-off together. Well, they do, I never move. I try again and off I go. Trees along my left flash pass me and I feel out of control. Fear taking hold, I lose my balance and fall and as I do one of my skis pops off and one of my stick things goes flying. Both continue the journey to my friends waiting below. I just sit there. The burn of melting snow now hitting my skin on my wrists and my ankles. I try to get up only to slide and fall again. I fight back tears as my friends laugh and talk below and all the pro skiers on the slope whizz past me (I’m considering everyone else on the slopes a pro skier compared to me). I somehow manage to get up and make it to the bottom of the slope by a combination of sliding and falling, you see, I couldn’t figure out how to get the other damn ski off.
I return to the bunny slope after that, never bothering to try again at any of the bigger ones, I feel humiliated. My friends had never skied before, yet they were having a great time. I feel like I am a Goofy cartoon, the one where his legs and arms get all tangled and knotted up when trying an outdoor activity. After a few more whizzes down the bunny slope, I can’ help but feel it is exactly like sledding. I have someone help me pop off my skis and announce to anyone that will listen, frozen sports of any kind where awful and I would never do them again.
Several years later, now an official adult married and fresh off the Appalachian Trail, two friends invite Darwin and me out for a snowshoeing trip. My heart immediately pounds and I feel a flush of heat to my face.
Oh, how I hate snow activities.
We would snowshoe just a few miles out to a Yurt. I had always wanted to stay in a Yurt so we agree to join them on the trip. It’s a total blast. I find that I am made for snowshoeing; I take to it instantly and have the best time (you can read more about this trip or watch a video via the links provided).
Now let us review this past week I spent in Leadville, CO. This city carries the title of highest elevation in the United States sitting at 10, 152 feet. At this high, I knew snow was without a doubt going to be there, but I didn’t fear it. I was open to whatever challenges the snowy conditions would bring. My first full day there I found myself snowshoeing five miles with my friends of whom I was visiting. We took a picture together at over 12,000 feet in elevation, the highest I’ve ever been. Although a bit winded and tired mostly from the lack of air, I found that I was still built for snowshoeing and I still enjoyed it.
Two days and a winter hike later, I was out Classic Skiing. I had secretly worried about putting on a pair of skis again but found that there are many different styles of skiing beside the terrifying downhill I had tried years before. Even with my awkward duck feet stride, I found my groove and was moving right along. The elevation still wearing me out faster than normal, was the only reason I returned to the car after a 1.5-mile loop. I was ecstatic once I got my breath. I had once again fully enjoyed myself.
Moral Of The Story:
It makes a difference on who is joining you for the winter activity of choice. I had a great teacher in my friend Sierra last week with Classic Skiing allowing me to really focus on what I was doing and not the fact I was having flashbacks of my last ski trip. When snowshoeing to the yurt a few years before, I was again in the company of good friends Zach and Lee so I was relaxed, and this proved no different when snowshoeing with both Alex and Sierra in Leadville.
Had a bad experience with an outdoor activity in the past? Try it again! If I would have let my past experiences with snow activities determine what I would do in the future, I would have never known I am awesome at snowshoeing or that I actually like to ski, just a different style.
Remember: It’s important to surround yourself with friends and they will often give you the push you need to try again.
Remember: Being comfortable for too long is a death wish; push your comfort zones.
(Sierra and I in mid-snowshoe step; Me Classic Skiing)
Cool Thingys That I Also Do:
My Book: Mini Misadventures
Etsy Store: TravelandTrail
Instagram: The_snuggle_diaries – I have more pictures from Leadville, CO posted
Last Week’s Post You May Have Missed: