Memories Revisited

As a kid my family first went snow skiing in Colorado when I was about 13 years old. We’d usually venture out in mid April for some late season skiing or use our Christmas break for some Colorado fun. Always an adventure, our trips to the Rockies in winter seemed magical to me and the fun and excitement of learning how to control my skis and make my way down the mountain on first green slopes and later blue always brings a happy smile to my face. If we were lucky my parents would manage one long weekend a year for our Colorado Winter vacation. If my foggy memory is correct I think the last time I hit the slopes was about 24 years ago.

Now 24 years of non-skiing is a long time, and certainly most women “of my age,” see how I delicately put that, would be content to occasionally take a trip down memory lane and remember the crisp mountain air of a long distant ski trip. Most intelligent women would be content to let their children serve as the next generation of once annual skiers. I consider myself fairly intelligent but apparently not as much as I would like to think. I just had to know the answer to the question: Could I still ski? In a very daring move I put go snow skiing on my bucket list so I could see if I still had it in me.

When I shared this with Dan he promptly stated he would not be joining me on this quest. He was content to let memories remain memories. Ever practical he also did not want to blow out a knee after months of training for his next Ironman. Not to be deterred I simply went about recruiting other quest-mates.

Ever ready for another adventure cousin Sara signed up, her husband Dave basically got drug along. Sam is always game for an excuse to put his snowboarding skills to the test so he was in also. My excuse was Maggie, as a 5th Grader in Colorado you qualify for a Passport to ski for free. What a deal! I signed her up and started plotting possible dates.

We headed to Winter Park this past week and I gamely gave it a go. Guess what? Technically I can still ski! Ya! It was a bit like riding a bike and once I got the skis on I pretty much remembered what to do and not do. Well, pretty much.

I got Maggie set up in all day ski school but I rolled the dice like a true middle-aged rebel and just put on the skis and headed for the nearest lift. I figured “no time like the present” to see if I could still do it. Why mess with a lesson when you could just slide up to the lift and sit down. I remembered enough to know that was the easy part-the hard part was getting off the lift without a wipeout and thus the massive embarrassment of stopping the entire lift while some teenage ski pro lifted your floppy butt up and tried to get you on your feet before the chair hit you in the head.

Sara must have drawn the short straw when I was not looking because she was the one stuck with me for the big gamble. Sam and Dave had managed to disappear into the masses, I am sure praying like mad to get far enough away before the embarrassment began so no one would think we were all together!

Ever the good sport, Sara helped me successfully maneuver the lift line and suddenly I was wrapped in the quiet of the crisp mountain air as we rode to the midway point up the mountain. The smell of the trees, the crisp air biting at my nose and the quiet sway of the gondola instantly opened the door to my memories. Oh my gosh, this was so cool! Suddenly I was 22 years old again racing to the bottom of the mountain so I could ride up and do it again. My memories were crisp and clear, just like the gorgeous December day I was enjoying.

Panic soon pushed these warm fuzzy memories right out the door as I realized the current gondola ride was about to come to an end and I was going to have to make a graceful, skilled and athletic exit off the ramp. “Dear God, please let me do this with just a little bit of dignity,” I begged. One, two, three “keep your tips up” read the sign. “Oh Lord, pleeeeeeasssseeeee…..”

I did it! I managed a rather dignified exit and smoothly entered the first green run of the day. I think Sara was a little bit surprised and maybe a tiny bit impressed.

Carefully I made my way down the mountain in nice easy S curves. As long as I did not get too cocky and get going too fast I actually felt reasonably competent. I must have looked almost like a skier because at one point I heard my name yelled out from above. Apparently, Sam and Dave were on the gondola above me as I deftly skied down the run! I waved a ski pole their direction. I had it going on! Sam was going to be so proud of me!

Flash-forward another hour, all of us were skiing down the mountain together after meeting at the top for a sack lunch. Sara and Sam were a couple hundred yards ahead of me. Dave was gamely skiing and filming me on the video camera but ended up way ahead of me also. Not nearly as cool as I was thinking I was, my ski tip suddenly caught on my ski pole and I went down. Not hard, not in any spectacular wipeout, just down.

“Ok, no big deal” I calmly told myself. “It was bound to happen. Just use your poles and climb up just like you used to” I coached myself.

I did. I used my poles like I thought I was supposed to. It did not work. I got my rear up off the ground but only at knee level and then my skies started sliding downhill. Now I sort of resembled a squatting midget racing down the hill. I tried to pull myself up. My legs quivered and shook but no deal. I tried and tried and tried. Then I sat down. I scanned the trail before me and way in the distance saw Sara, Sam and Dave waiting for me. Oh Lord, this was embarrassing.

I must have tried a dozen times. People kept skiing past me. Little kids roared by me like little bat out of hells. I was stuck. Now what was I going to do?

Just when the tears of embarrassment were starting to well up I looked up and saw Sam carrying his snowboard and running UP THE MOUNTAIN. Thoughts of “what a great son he is” mixed with “OH my gosh this is embarrassing, I can’t believe he is having to come rescue me –again.” Raced through my foggy brain.

In the end, Sam helped me up and I gathered my much-wounded pride and started back down the mountain. Sara, Dave and Sam all agreed that I could no longer go last in case I couldn’t get up again. “Great-now I am the booby prize,” I thought!

Another couple hours later I tried once again to regain my pride. When we were at the top of the mountain I asked Dave to take a posed picture of me. I remembered the last time I had gone skiing a professional photographer took a cool picture of me with one ski in the air. I wanted to recreate the pose today! Dave agreed and I stopped in front of him and quickly raised my right leg and ski- and promptly fell in a tangled heap at his feet. This was not the desired pose at all.

Dave snapped the picture and I had to officially give up the notion that I was 22 years old again. Yes, I could still ski but boy I sure did not look the same as I did so many years ago. I am glad I went I am pleased I can still do it and I am humbled to realize I am not the same girl I was back then. As I thought about it I realized I was just fine with that. Today I was here with my son and my baby girl. I could not have even imagined that 24 years ago.

So my friend, I ask you “what’s next on your list?”

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  1. Wounded pride or not, I’m VERY impressed! I grew up spending summers in the Rockies – Poudre Canyon – my parents have had a small cabin there since 1971. We only went up there a couple times in the winter. There isn’t any skiing there, and we never went anywhere else. I’m sooo not coordinated enough to ski anyway. I have trouble walking without walking into things. :)

  2. Finally got a chance to read the ski adventure. Yeah, next time Sam or I will bring up the rear : )

    • Bucketlistblogger says:

      I know I was the boobie prize of the day but I appreciate you guys letting me hang out with you! Thanks for the footage!