To ski or not to ski, and why is that a question? For the keen enthusiast it probably never is, but for me it depends; largely on how favourable the conditions and how kind my fellow skiers are likely to be! I do adore to ski but I have a love/hate relationship with it, maybe because I only started skiing in my mid 30’s. I seldom embrace the thrill factor (aka the fear factor) and have no great desire to scare myself witless. There is no joy in finding myself at the top of a slope which looks impossibly steep and terrifying. The scenario is always the same; I feel angry for being in the situation (normally as a result of some one else’s persuasive skills !!) and frustrated that I am less competent than I would like to be! However, the only way ‘out’ is ‘down’, so I grit my teeth, push off on my poles and make the turn, my heart pounding, praying that I will stay upright; silly really to be so worried as although it might not look elegant, I rarely take a tumble! The most irritating thing is that I know in my subconscious that I can actually do this and on occasion have! It really is all in the mind, the knowledge of which just adds to my misery as I ask myself why do I do this, to ski or not to ski……next time I have to make the decision, that will be the question!
Skiing, like many things, is about feeling confident. It is much easier to be confident when the conditions are polite; when the sun is streaming encouragement upon glistening, corduroy tracks, when there is no cold or biting wind to grapple with, when that smooth, groomed terrain is silently and patiently inviting you and your skis to create neat ‘S’ patterns down the mountain side and of course when the boots are being cooperative. On those days, especially in California’s stunning north shore of Lake Tahoe, I dig deep, I push myself, perhaps going a little too fast but, exhilarated by my own prowess, I am suddenly able to battle greater challenges and joy of joys, find myself believing that I can do this, that I am a skier!
Then there are days when struggling with inclement weather, with wet, heavy snow, when even if there are hopeful glimpses of the sun I don’t find myself coping so well. Runs full of churned up ‘ice cream’ like bumps, sap my confidence, my legs start to hurt, my feet swish about in boots which suddenly no longer fit and I want to give up. At the top of one of those ‘impossible’ slopes I almost revert to the childish behaviour of throwing down my poles and bursting into tears …… Consumed with guilt about potentially spoiling others’ fun I pull myself together and try to rally, normally looking for the first opportunity to escape for the comfort of hot chocolate. You never know who you might find in the ski lodge!
People on the deck clomp past me in their probably equally as uncomfortable ski boots, struggling with trays overburdened with food, juggling helmets, gloves and googles. For the most part they seem smiling and happy, I decide that these are the real skiers and feel like the pretender, all dressed up but not wanting to go!
So why do I? I often ponder that very question! Not to scare or thrill or conquor the mountain. The simple answer for me is that skiing affords a unique opportunity to be amongst nature when she is at her most beautiful. Surrounded by soaring slopes draped in a winter mantle of ermine and towering green pines whose boughs bend low with ‘peppermint frosting’ generously dolloped over their branches, the air crisp and sweetly fragrant, like newly laundered sheets, your senses consumed as the ground sparkles beneath you. There is a feeling of being connected, almost glued to the earth, depending on how well your ski’s are waxed! You move along in a manner like no other, gliding and turning in silence. The snow gently melting on the trees sounds like feint drizzle, the scraping of snowboarders behind you sounds like momentary fear but for the most part it is just yourself and nature in winter; it is called skiing and I love it, well most of the time, and you what about you? I’d love to know?!
Download the Lake Tahoe, California Travel Guide PDF here my suggestions where to stay, eat & play!