A guest post by Rachel Walker.
When I first skied Silverton Mountain many years ago, I left in an ambulance.
Until now, I haven’t told many people that. It’s kind of embarrassing.
At the time I was an editor at Skiing magazine and on assignment for a different publication. The ski journalist is not supposed to get rescued by ski patrol and carted out to the town’s shiny new emergency vehicle.
Yet that’s exactly what happened after I took an unfortunate tumble. I came out of my binding in manky snow, and as I fell, I twisted and my ribs landed—bang!—on a stump. Hard. I’d later get X-rays that showed no breaks, and the ER doc would diagnose bruised ribs. Bruised or broken, they hurt like hell, and I was left feeling pummeled by the mountain but pledging to return.
In the ensuing years, I got married, got pregnant and had a baby boy, waited a bit and then repeated the cycle, giving birth to my second son 25 months after I had his brother. As I juggled the responsibilities of new motherhood and my freelance writing career, driving to the other end of the state to ski one of the hardest mountains in the west kept dropping on my priority list.
But last season, when my sons were three and one years old, I reorganized that list. I was looking for a challenge, something that would decidedly have nothing to do with parenthood, marriage, or anything domestic. Anyone who’s been immersed in the 24-7 cycle of life with young ‘uns will understand—and hopefully appreciate—that sensation of needing to pretend for a (short) period of time that life as a parent is not completely different from the pre-kid version.
In my world, that meant planning a trip to Silverton.
Finding a few girlfriends to make the long trip was surprisingly easy, and then the weather gods blessed us with days (not a typo—it literally snowed for 48 hours in advance of our trip and kept snowing) of blizzards. The driving conditions were tough, but the upshot was the powder that waited.
As we piloted my friend’s Subaru from Colorado’s Front Range toward the San Juans, I wondered if I’d be nervous to return to the place where I’d gotten so hurt. In the intervening years, my skiing had improved tremendously. I’d taken clinics, pushed my limits on several ski mountaineering trips here and abroad, and gotten fatter boards that were rockered in the tips and tails.
More than that, I’d developed an even deeper love for the sport after the birth of my first son. Because of my work as a writer, my first winter with baby was a snow-tastic one as my family and I skied all over Colorado. Henry went to the ski school nurseries and my husband and I shredded the slopes, all in the name of a paycheck for me.
Having a baby changes everything. Because of Henry, my personal time (including slope time) was limited. Even though I was traveling and working in ski country, the kiddo still needed to be nursed and nurtured. As a result, every run became special. Even the crummy ones. You know that adage: a bad day on the slopes beats a good day anywhere else? That kind of became my mantra. Put another way, I stopped worrying about how well (or not) I skied, and started just skiing. It was a tremendous lesson in letting go and I can distinctly say that’s the winter skiing became an absolute passion.
And where better to exercise said passion than Silverton, mecca to Powderhounds everywhere?
Face Shots, Fun Times and Then Back to Family
It was everything I expected. For three days, my girlfriends and I laughed ourselves silly through face shot after face shot. We charged the steeps, hiked to even more steeps and, yes, even ducked into the woods. This time around the snow was so deep that the likelihood of falling on a stump was nil. But it wasn’t just the coverage that kept me upright and ripping. It was the sheer beauty of being there, of being part of a storm cycle, of being healthy and alive and apart from my family with the knowledge that I’d soon return to them with sore quads and a wind-burned face.
This time, I left Silverton in the same Subaru in which I arrived. And instead of leaving a little bit of myself at the mountain, I took some of Silverton home with me—its spirit and its simplicity.
I’m already planning this year’s visit.
Rachel Walker is a Boulder-based freelance writer and editor with 15 years of journalism experience. She blogs about the adventures and misadventures of parenting at spawnandsurvive.com. Find her on Twitter at @rodellwalker.
© 2014 – 2017, braveskimom. All rights reserved. Any use or publication of content, including photos, requires express permission.