Taking a trip down the mountain

Mile High Thoughts

Skier Warren Miller once said, “A pair of skis are the ultimate form of transportation.”

Since age six, I have spent the winter months in Colorado out on the ski slopes.

I vaguely remember my first ski lesson, mainly just falling down quite often and drinking hot chocolate just about as many times.

I remember the “magic carpet” that slowly took you to the top of the “bunny hill” and the fear of going down a hill that felt more like a mountain.

Eventually, I felt comfortable on the “big” two- and four-person chair lifts that take you to the top of the mountain.

The adrenaline rush of the wind in your face, the thrill of reaching speeds of 40 miles an hour drove me to find a life-long passion. That, and the fact that the only other sport I was decent at was running.

While my sister and I loved being outside in the snow, skiing wasn’t always easy. During one lesson my sister and I got grouped together, and knowing my sister’s abilities at the time, I knew that she was more cautious.

That day, she continually got left behind and I felt so guilty waiting for her while the rest of the group was eager to go back up the hill.

There were times where, like any sport, it was frustrating. Times where the “pizza” move of touching your ski tips into each other burned your thighs and you knew the next day, there was no way you were going to be able to walk.

There were also times when we would have what one calls a “yard sale.” This is a moment when you fall so hard that your equipment comes off and is scattered across the mountain side.

Over the years, my sister and I improved and would spend our days on the intermediate blue runs, seeing how fast we could go or finding a tree trail to weave in and out of.

When it came time for college, I thought long and hard about my decision going to school in Nebraska, because I knew I couldn’t ski frequently.

But I didn’t let it stop me. One January, a few friends and packed into the car for a long weekend of skiing, hot chocolate and some of the best snow I have ever experienced.

As you can imagine, moving to Texas, my options to snow ski are sparse.

After almost four years of being deprived, I decided that I should take a vacation and head up to the mountains.

I was so anxious the first day we arrived that I convinced my uncle to get an early start instead of spending time adjusting to the high altitude. We ended up getting in nine runs, with no lift lines and a lot of great snow. It was like nothing had changed.

Day two was even better. Bluebird skies, no lift lines. It was like the whole place was ours.

I remember sitting on the chair lift, leaning back and just taking in the world around me. It was like a dream.

Nothing in the world could stop me.

While the sport of skiing has remained much the same over the years, it is moving forward with the world.

Plastic lift tickets no longer dangle from your jacket, but rather a credit card device that is scanned through an entry gate to the lift.

Chair lifts are even improving with a bubble enclosure, something that seems unnecessary. I miss the cold sting of the wind hitting my nose and the nice ski goggle tan from being so close to the sun.

Skiing has taught me much more than just something to do during the winter months.

It taught me the value of family, spending time sitting on a chair lift and enjoying the scenery. My dad and I especially share this passion still today.

It taught me to conquer things bigger than myself. Reaching the bottom after a long, steep run and looking up is one of the most satisfying feelings.

But above all, no pun intended, it taught me a greater appreciation of the outdoors.

I relish the snow-covered mountains. The trees dusted with snow. The people hanging from a chair lift or the people that looked like ants moving down a mountain.

Skiing is the ultimate transportation. It takes me to the people I love, in a place I love, to do what I love.

mckenzie@fredericksburgstandard.

com

Fredericksburg Standard

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Fredericksburg, TX 78624-4228
830-997-2155