I was splayed across the soft, icy snow. All I could see was the unwavering sky above me. My legs were both twisted at uncomfortable angles and my head thrummed lightly. I was lost in a state of calm panic. I need to get up. I can’t stay here.
But I wish I could.
I really shouldn’t be surprised that I’m stuck in this situation. It’s a shame, though. I wish I could fully enjoy my surroundings, in particular, the muted blue sky and the crisp, but not freezing, air. The light snow shower. The wind wildly whooshing past my body. The pine trees that look as though they’ve been dusted with a fine layer of powdered sugar. Everything was blissfully calm, except for the looming slope waiting for me just ahead.
My whole family, cousins and all, were on a ski vacation in Utah. I did not enjoy these vacations to begin with, since the only girls in my family are me, my mom, and my aunt. My daredevil uncle had decided that we should all ski from our current resort, Canyons, over to the one that occupies the other half of the mountain. I hated it when the boys in my family, especially my uncle, got horrible ideas like this. As for me, I was perfectly content with spending the whole day gliding down safe Blues.
“Ok, so we’re gonna head down this trail right here,” my uncle informed us, gesturing lazily with his ski pole. “We’ll wait at the bottom.”
“And we won’t get lost or anything?” questioned my aunt as the boys began heading toward to trail.
“Nah, I don’t think so. Just follow the trail to the bottom,” he replied, pushing forward down the mountain. Thanks. I turned to face my mom so that my aunt and cousin wouldn’t hear.
“I can’t. Mom, please. There has to be a different way down. I’m not skiing down something that steep,” I whispered with a quivering voice, daring a glance down at the slope ahead. We were now lingering just at the edge, preparing ourselves.
“I don’t want to do this either, but you know how it is. We’re always stuck following Jim and Chuck.” My mom’s response did little to soothe me.
“Nooooo,” I groaned, letting the fear fully seep in.
As you near the middle of the mountain range, the trails turn very, very steep and rugged. The one we were about to fall down now- I mean ski down- was a Black (or maybe a Double Black) Diamond, which is at least twice as steep as any Diamonds in the Northeast. My hands tightly gripped my ski poles at the thought. I was completely unprepared and unwilling to ski down this.
But I had to.
With skiing, there’s no turning back; there is only one way to get down the trail. So I took one last, steadying deep breath and pushed forward…
I slowly began my descent downward, making lots of wide turns in order to conquer the slant of the trail. I was surprised by how terrible this actually was. Why, why, why? My gaze drifted to the rest of my family speeding ahead of me. I narrowed in on the sound of skis slicing through the powdery snow, and tried to make my skis sound like that too. The smell of crisp, fresh air and the feeling of it on my exposed cheeks kept me from wholly focusing on the fact that my whole body was shaking in fear (and it’s very difficult to ski when you’re shaking).
Luckily, my mom, aunt, and cousin, Blake, were all in the same boat as me. We were all unhappy and nervous and grumpy. On the other hand, the rest of our family was probably already down, relaxing at the spa in the lodge. But as for me, I was barely making any progress. My skis were uneasy on the snow and I kept veering too close to the edge. Sometimes I couldn’t make the turn, or I would speed up and not be able to stop and my skis would make that dreadful creaking sound. Then just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, I slid right over a jagged pile of ice, lost control, and slammed into the unforgiving, bitter snow.
Tears began to fall from my eyes. I was embarrassed. Everything hurt. The sky was too bright. The snow was too cold. But finally, my legs didn’t have to hold me. My arms didn’t have to move. I let my eyelids flutter shut for a second, but then snapped them wide open. Get up! You need to get up! I could hear skis in the distance. Coming closer. And closer. Go!
Deciding to overcome my embarrassment and pain, I aligned my skis horizontally with the mountain, struggling against the cumbersomeness of them. Using my poles, I pushed into the snow until I was standing once again. I’m okay. Just catch up. Just keep going. I was so uncomfortable. My muscles were tired and I couldn’t seem to relax my shoulders. I was still shaken-up.
But I couldn’t stop.
The only way to get to the bottom is to keep going. And I Did. I was cautious and slower than a sloth, but eventually I made it to the end. I relished in the soothing feeling of the wind brushing through my hair as I skied down the final small decline. I was still in pain and there were angry tears falling from my eyes, but, in a way, I was proud. I did that. I skied down that mountain and only fell once. Once.
To my surprise, the rest of my family had reached the bottom only a few minutes before me. I guess we all hated that trail. Collectively, we decided that we were done for the day (once again a surprise to me), and started hobbling in our ski boots toward the shuttle bus. I’ve never liked taking risks, and maybe I still don’t, but I’m proud of what I accomplished. I pushed any doubt or fear aside and worked harder and harder and harder until I succeeded. I am more fearless than I was before, and I believe in my abilities. Now, I’m not saying that I’ll ever do this again…
But I’m glad I did.