Wednesday, January 20, 2016
A Lesson from the Ski Hill
I'm sharing this snow skiing story today from Milk Cans and Quilt Blocks. It's the season for skiing and it's always the season to learn a life lesson. Enjoy!
An excerpt from Milk Cans and Quilt Blocks
I was only trying to show my niece and her daughters a good time at Bogus Basin Ski Resort. The mountain I learned to ski upon. The mountain we frequent a dozen times every year. My Mountain!
Spring skiing is so great! The weather is enjoyable. Nobody cries to go indoors because they are freezing. You can get a suntan.
Never mind there was a plane to catch. Never mind there was a track meet to attend. Never mind the snow was rapidly turning to slush. It was Spring! Spring skiing is so great!
Never mind I’m pushing fifty. Never mind I decided to take an alternate route and six-year-old Shyan decided to go with me. Never mind my cell phone was losing its charge.
Never mind I misjudged my location! Never mind my brother-in-law is Director of Mountain Operations and would kill me if he had to send search and rescue! Never mind, never mind, never mind!
But mind I did when I realized we had two choices. We could take the path of least resistance and slide down into a gully that must come out somewhere. I minded that I had seen others in that gully and I knew I didn’t want to be stuck in there. Or … we could climb ever so slightly and come out on my favorite run. Or so I thought!
Never mind my favorite run was two crests away! Those crests were separated by ravines.
So up we climbed up … and down. Then up … and down. Shyan was beginning to show signs of panic. This apparent from the ascent up the music scale and increase in volume of her cries of “Aunt Carol, where are we?” and “Aunt Carol, are we lost?”
“No Shyan, we aren’t lost. We’re at Bogus Basin!” That was all I was certain of – we were at Bogus Basin and Shyan had a plane to catch to visit her father in Seattle. Oh, and I was also certain I didn’t know how I had led her to the place I had, nor how I would lead her out! I hoped Shyan couldn’t hear the panic rising in my own voice.
When things seem really bad, they usually find a way to get just a little bit worse. That’s how it was when I triggered a mini avalanche sliding fifteen feet down an extremely steep slope. I had been attempting to lead Shyan to safety, coaxing her to sing “Do as I’m Doing, Follow, Follow Me!” an old Sunday School song, in an attempt to keep her panic at a manageable level.
The effort required to climb while lugging six-foot-long skis and ski boots on my feet was beginning to exhaust me. I was hot, so I opened the zipper to my jacket, removed my gloves and hat, and made a fruitless attempt to use my cell phone. It probably would not have found a signal if the battery had been charged. We shall never know.
After my unfortunate slide, I could not see Shyan for she was positioned above me and behind a tree. My legs began to tremble and I feared that I was exhausted. Shyan was crying that her leg hurt. I did not know if she was safe or injured. I began to panic. We were alone in an area other skiers were unlikely to venture and I had no way to signal our location.
I could not call for help, and yet I did. I cried out loud, “Father! Help me!” There was no need to explain my predicament, for HE surely knew! Calmness came over me and my thoughts were clear. I knew what to do. I removed my skis and used them much as one would a tree limb hanging over a river bank. I jammed one into the side of the mountain and then the other pulling myself up and jamming the toes of my boots into the snow with each step – a little higher - slowly climbing to safety. I slipped a time or two, but never so far back as I had begun and I continued to progress.
When I arrived at the origination of my decent, I rested a moment, still unsure as to where we should go. We were lost at Bogus Basin. I continued to assure Shyan that we were inside Bogus and we couldn’t be lost because Uncle Steve would find us as long as we were still inside Bogus. I dreaded the moment I faced Uncle Steve!
As I stepped into my skis – a monumental task considering the degree of my fatigue – Shyan pointed to a small rise and asked “Aunt Carol, can we go up there?” There was a large outcropping of rock on a small knoll. It looked as good a place as any. I still had no idea how to get to the safety of the ski lift at the bottom of the hill. Only one problem, it required a little more climbing! The snow was very loose and the going precarious but we carefully made our way to the top of the knoll. I stopped to rest. My trembling legs welcomed the reprieve.
“Lucky Friday!” Shyan shouted.
“Huh?” I panted. I think it was a Thursday.
“Lucky Friday!” she repeated.
I followed the direction of her outstretched arm and beheld a black ski run sign that read “Lucky Friday.”
“Aunt Carol, can we go there?” This time she pleaded!
laughed, relieved that we were indeed still at Bogus Basin and we had actually discovered a marked run. It was a run I dreaded because I knew its location, the black double diamond marker, and the condition of the snow combined to create a challenge I would not welcome even if my legs were fresh, but it was a marked run and it would eventually lead us to safety.
I could not keep up with Shyan as she sped as quickly as her short skis could carry her through the trees to where she knew her mother was surely waiting. I picked my way through the maze stopping often to rest and make a very ugly, very novice-like turn to avoid a tree.
Much laughter ensued when we emerged from the trees at the bottom of the hill. It was the nervous laughter of relief, followed by a few tears. Uncle Steve was nowhere to be seen, for which I was extremely grateful. The search and rescue had not yet been activated. I would live! My nephew, Nathan, Uncle Steve’s boy who grew up on the mountain asked, “Did you see Castle Greyskull?” Castle Greyskull was the name he and his brother had dubbed the outcropping of rock that Shyan had determined we should follow.
“Yeah, I guess we did. And we came out on Lucky Friday!” I added.
“Did you actually see the Lucky Friday marker?” he asked a little amazed.
“Yeah, we did,” I panted. “I didn’t know there was a run called Lucky Friday.”
Nathan shook his head and quietly stated, “I’ve never seen the Lucky Friday marker.”
How often do events occur that prove both comical and very earthshaking at the same time? The family had a lot of laughs about Aunt Carol getting Shyan lost at Bogus Basin. It is a story that will be told for years amongst the skiing and non-skiing relatives alike. What a joke! Carol got lost at Bogus and Shyan had to find the way out! Yes, we all make light of it. But for me, it was sobering. How quickly did I turn the wrong way when I felt certain I knew what I was doing? How scared did I get before I turned to the only source that could help me? And even after that, I continued to slip, never so far down as the first time, but it took increased effort and many attempts before I reached my goal. And what of the child? In the Book of Mormon it states, “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the young lion and fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.” (2 Nephi 21:6) How often does one overlook the faith, optimism, and humility of youth? I was fortunate. On that “Lucky Friday,” or Thursday, I was reminded of several lessons, most especially to remember to exercise the humility of a child.
If you enjoyed this post, you can find more essays like it in Milk Cans and Quilt Blocks and Gold Pans and Irons Skillets, available in my Etsy shop and on Amazon.