My life is full of long complicated days…. Days where the clock seems to sprint from dawn to dusk without a moment to myself. So every year I plan my escape to the powdered slopes of Lake Tahoe, California. Ski trips have different meanings for everyone. For some of my buddies it is a chance to remove themselves from the humdrum of daily life, for others it is a chance to mingle like they were single again. I prize my annual trip because it provides me alone time, time to reflect on things, and clarify my thoughts. There is nothing that combines the peace of the outdoors with the thrill of adventure like swooshing down powder slopes with the wind whipping around me. Problems in my life are wiped clean away by the urgency of tackling moguls, avoiding pines, and keeping an eye on the sweep of the trail. The harder the path, the calmer I feel. A few friends tell me that yoga has a similar healing quality, but I can’t feel more at one with the world than when I am sliding my way down a snow packed mountain.
There is a rush I get as I ride up on the lift for my first run of the day. Usually, it is early in the morning and the sun has just decided to color the horizon, the whiteness of the snow has taken on a tinge of gold, and the mountain is mine. One small push, and I am off, floating on a thin layer of ice and snow, like some superhero. I imagine saving the world as I zoom left, then right, then left again carving my way to the bottom. I love that I create my own path when skiing, weaving the perfect trail through untrammeled snow. On the most perfect runs, I become part of the mountain. I dare to say that it is the ideal remedy for feeling down in the dumps and ordinary. On some trails, I can even briefly experience the sensation of flying as I listen to the slicing of my skis and the whistle of air past my ears.
Clear Eyes, Full Heart
I see things more clearly up here on the piste. Every tiny pebble and puffy vested fellow skier stands out starkly in my vision. They are the obstacles in my course, each one a representation of some personal snag to be avoided or hurtled over with grace and power. Skiing the runs flawlessly as possible is far easier for me than living an unerring life, but every year on the trail I learn to be more agile and more polished. I like to think that I bring these qualities back when I return from my vacation on the peaks. Though my daily round of problems may not be as easily solvable as dodging impediments on the slopes, I feel that I meet them with better skill because of my skiing.
A weekend away on the white trails always energizes me for life in the real world. Time away from friends and family helps me regain the strength to be there for them. It makes me appreciate their company more. The confidence I discover on the slopes permeates my daily work life, helping me make wiser decisions and prodding me to take chances in life. If I don’t embrace the hurdles and twists of the ski terrain every year, I know I won’t be able to survive the hazards and turns in real life. Skiing is not just an escape for me, it is a necessary adventure in my life.
For more cold weather adventures, check out the Bespoke Traveler Journal: Holiday Issue.