It’s been a little over eight years since I was last on a ski hill. At the time, I was in charge of organizing student activities, which included one ski trip a year to Cascade Mountain. The activity was always well-attended, and I went along – ostensibly to oversee, but more because it got me out of the office.
I’ve long been fascinated with snowboarding, and my second time going on the trip I gave it a try. I had moments of actual boarding, but I mostly fell down a lot. It was when the back edge of the board got caught and slammed my head into the well-packed snow cover that I called it quits for the night.
My third time on the trip, I boarded a little bit, but then traded in the board for skis, as there were lessons available. I remember being laughed at by the friend who was with me, but I did pick up skiing a little better than I had boarding. Granted, I was snowplowing most of the way down the beginner hill (higher and longer than the bunny hill), but I did do some actual skiing, and I actually enjoyed myself.
What I remember the most, though, is the lift back to the top of the hill. It was nervewracking to have to maneuver myself into place rather quickly to let the lift grab me and pull me along, as I wasn’t very good at getting around on the snowboard or the skis. Getting off was tricky, too, but I don’t think they ever had to stop the lift to get me out of the way.
There was something about that ride, though…
I’m not a good judge of height, but there were times when I was 25-30 feet above the ground. Normally I’m not too good with heights, but there on that lift, with the black sky, the lights on the hill, and the cold air… it was so beautiful. The beginner hill was set apart from the major hills where most people were, so it was quieter already, but the height of the ski lift made it even quieter, and I never rode up the lift with anyone – “I’m not too good at this, so it’s not a good idea,” I’d say.
All alone, floating above the cold, white earth, with the infinitely black sky above is the most peaceful I’ve ever felt.