This documents my experience skiing in an easy meadow in the backcountry! Ie no lifts and quiet wilderness and trees and lots of untouched powder! I’m not a skiier and the last time I tried skiing was ten years ago. But it was really fun and as you can tell from the lack of photos it was much too tiring! And I would do it all again.
In another life, I’d have vocalized my joy as I did what I had only dreamed of for years-skiing through powder and weaving through trees. As it was, it was a miracle that I felt anything. I had laughed nervously with the rest of them as we all admitted we had slept for 3 hours and “this was stupid” but the other moment when “I started seeing the snow and realized it was all worth it” never happened for me. At least, not in a way that felt real. All I could do was whisper “fuck, this is beautiful. Fuck, I am a lucky bitch” as I wondered if I could go temporarily blind from the white around me.
Red heather, the name of the meadow, was amazing, despite that I was behind the entire time and made everyone wait for me periodically. I enjoyed the solitude rather than being afraid of being left behind. Which, by the way, happened once-I spent 10 or 15 minutes (who can tell time when you’re afraid?) after cresting a ridge that I thought was our agreed upon meeting spot and didn’t see anyone. Rationale would have later told me that with only 3 fresh tracks in the snow-1 a dead end-the wrong one that I followed would definitely mean that the 3rd one was the right path. Instead, afraid of my capability, already unrecognizably tired, I imagined they vanished into thin air in a trick to revenge my slowness. Or that they forged two fake paths to mock me because they were both steeper than I was comfortable with. My first thought was duh, no problem, I’m only probably 400 meters from the hut, with cellphone reception, but then I phoned without reply my ski mates and looked out into the unreadable landscape. And i was tired. Luckily, I woke to my senses and followed the 3rd path.
Red heather also awoke the best in people. They were honestly the nicest people that I had interacted with in a long time. Unjudgemental, intelligent, fun loving. The men made me remember that I was not asexual, the women reminded me to be a better person. Some of the sentiments they expressed for the trip included “getting away from school; you can’t just stay there 24/7”; “to get away from urbanization”; “I’m in biology”-sentiments that I felt, sentiments that I felt at times but were afraid to express. And I liked it because I can only judge when I’m within urbanization, and would do anything to be free of those shackles. And by association, I was that kind of person too-if I could only see it for myself rather than have self hate for being the very bad poser of the exact kind of persona I hated in order to survive in an economically driven world.
Luckily, the more sentiments that were shared, the more my faith in living with self awareness was possible was restored. “I’d be that kind of person who snowboards AND skis. I’d be the only person who skis then boards and then GOES BACK.” “I’ve been snowboarding…I can see why people like powder [on skis].” Spoken in true snowboarder drawl. Only a few whoops and extra words other than that were exchanged. Skinning up took energy, so although people were clearly enjoying themselves-who wouldn’t-no one was very vocal about it. At the same time, destroying the hard found silence seemed like shattering a good moment, so you only communicated when those essential moments asked you to.
Logistics wise, we spent probably 2.5 hours driving, 2.5 hours skinning up, 2.5 hours skiing, and sometime skiing down/driving back. Don’t quote me on it. Time doesn’t matter that much when you’re given the privilege of abolishing time for a day.Or when you’re trying to ignore how incompetent you are at the task at hand. The hardest was skinning up any sort of semi-real incline. I enjoyed a moment of true learning/trust as my ski mates yelled at me to “trust the skis-you won’t fall back-put your weight at the back” instead of leaning forward and attempting to “climb” the hill with my hands. When you are already dubious of your ability to ski or hike, the ability of skis to walk “Up” seems like a miracle. How can two sticks do so much amazing things when you can’t even walk up them? But they can. And so could I. Although if given the choice to stay within my comfort zone, I would have quit after an hour-but the whole day just got better and better.
Be grateful for bringing any extra snacks and if you have learned to ski before. The two boxes of apple juice I brought were the best thirst quencher and mood lifter I had ever had. The 4 lessons in gr 6, although terminating before I ever got to go beyond a “pizza” on a bunny hill, made me unafraid to go down. Although I certainly was no skiier, the flatter powder terrain served to give me a thrill while enforcing arising memories of competence. By the bottom, I really did feel as if I was riding a bike, and felt quite confident on a low grade to not pizza. One day, I imagined keeping my skis parallel down a steep slope. As for now, I could keep my skis parallel on a small grade, but for me, unlike others, I had no endurance and usually had to quit skiing right after a short while although I wanted to continue skiing and enjoying the powder.
It snowed the entire time, and there was always untouched powder. It was yours if you only dared to stray a little bit from the tracks ahead of you.