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I have been skiing on and off since age fourteen, when I joined the ski club at Clear Fork High School in Ohio.
We took ski lessons at Clear Fork Ski area but the one closet to my home was Snow Trails. In Ohio, they had night skiing, unlike in the West, where I live now and where skiing is typically only a day activity.
Skiing at night was cold, under icy conditions, but what I remember most is the thrill of a nice run. I never knew long runs until I moved to New Mexico.
Through early adulthood as I focused on medical school and the demands of being a single mom, I experienced long droughts between skiing adventures. But when I could, I would head north to ski in Michigan, but my favorite adventure was the ski resort near St. George Bay in Ontario, Canada. My boyfriend and I found a youth hostel with wonderful sauna. Racing down the slopes facing the bay was ever so much fun. It is one of my most vivid memories because for once, it was a sunny day. As those who know about skiing in the East, that happens to be a rarity.
One year, my sister fell in love with a New Mexican. Their wedding brought the whole family here in 1988, and I was enchanted. We came in August to Albuquerque, then traveled to Cloudcroft. This small town with the traditional Hispanic chapel charmed me, and the haunted hotel only added to the spell. For me, the fact that I needed to snuggled under a down comforter in the middle of summer truly amazed me.
Once back in Ohio, I remained pretty convinced that I wanted to move out west. A ski trip to Vail one year with a close friend and my daughter only reinforced this desire. At the time, this was hard for my parents to consider, because my daughter was their first grandchild and they had helped to raise her while I was in medical school. In one conversation with my father about the move, I shared the need to be close to mountains. Though he may not have understood this need, he was accepting in the end. I was most grateful.
I did move out west after I finished my residency training. Skiing did happen but not as frequent as I had wished. Starting a new career led to increased time commitments as did the needs of my daughter. Friends found ways to make it happen. They helped to keep up my interest. Taking my husband at the time and my daughter a couple of times a year also continued to whet my appetite to ski.
Returning to Skiing at Mid-Life
I finally did restart skiing in my late forties on a yearly basis. With renewed commitment, the love of being on the mountain only grows stronger. ‘Being on the mountain’ is what pulls me back.
I do love to ski alone and with friends. Sharing the trail and being in rhythm with them as we ski down creates a joyful feeling for me. Depending on conditions, I will venture off into the moguls and into short stints into the woods.
I also know I never will be the daredevil that my late friend Lisa Forrest. She would attack the Taos mountain like no other. She has sometimes had to nurse her skiing wounds, including a broken leg going down a chute, then recovered to come back and do it again.
I have had my injuries which have, at times, taken awhile to recover from but more from not being fully present in my body. One injury led to a torn rotator cuff tear but that topic is for another time. I have seen this as “lessons learned” to BE MORE PRESENT in the body while I ski and bring these lessons into my daily life.
The Magic of the Mountain
There is magic being able to be so high amongst the trees and the snow. Skiing or riding up on the lift solo creates a meditative state for me. Energizing me, yet also grounding me. There is great joy and pleasure skiing in a supportive manner now compared to the past. I no longer push past my limits nor ski with those who prefer constantly pushing the limits, often beyond fatigue. This is not for me anymore. Injuries often happen under those circumstances.
I have learned many life lessons on the ski slopes and off as well. I am continually inspired when I spend time on the mountain. These days, I prefer, Taos Ski Valley but many others still do beckon me.