Screaming Eagle

As I started down the skinny trail, it dawned on me that I had followed a bunch of twenty-somethings into an area I did not know.  You idiot, I muttered.  Twenty-somethings are invincible.  I am not.

I looked back.  Going back was a long way back up the narrow cat track. I looked left and right.  Going left or right meant a whole lot of trees, and no trail.  I started to panic.  I had to press on, not knowing where this path would lead.  I could see a clearing at the end. And then…one by one, I saw each young man disappear quickly over the edge, and I was alone.  There was an edge.  I couldn’t even see the other side. The land just disappeared.

You idiot, I muttered again.

As I continued my verbal self abuse, my heart started to pound.  I saw a sign at the edge.  I hoped that it would tell me where I was.  I slowed to the edge and looked up.  There, in bright blue and white, the sign said “Men’s Super G Course 2015”.  Uh oh.  There isn’t anything Super G about me.  I started to shake with fear.  You know…that feeling you get when someone tells you not to look down and you DO?  I had to look.  DOWN is the only way OUT.  My hands started to shake.

I skied to the other side of the slope to get a better idea of the terrain I was dealing with.  There was another sign: “Birds of Prey World Cup”. Oh jeebus. I wasn’t in Kansas…and I certainly wasn’t on one of my comfort-zone blue runs.  Just a few chairs back, I had just been thinking about why I tend to stick to the blue runs and thought maybe I should branch out.

You idiot, I muttered again, still shaking.

My practical brain took over.  Time to figure this out.  I picked a line and spied a place to stop about 200 feet down.  Could I make it there?

I sat in fear for a moment, exploring my feelings.  What was I afraid of?  Wrecking? Having to snowplow?  Looking like a Tasmanian devil on skis as I flailed down the hill?  Fear of the unknown?

I watched a few other skiers go down.  None of them looked “Super G”.  I saw someone wreck.  No one was perfect, and no one was dying.

Suddenly, it came to me:

What’s the worst thing that could happen?  I wreck. I get up.  I keep going.  Or I break my ass and I ride the sled behind some twenty-something.  The irony made me laugh.

I closed my eyes and took several deep breaths.  I felt the warmth of the sun on my neck.

The shaking stopped and I suddenly felt very calm.

Screw it…let’s do this, I muttered.

I took a deep breath, turned, and pointed my skis downhill.  Carve left. Carve right. Face forward. Relax. Focus. Stay in your line. Breathe.

Before I knew it, I was at my stopping point.  I looked at where I came from.  Snow was flying off of people as they made big turns to maintain control.  The sun was beaming down on all of us.  

I made it 200 feet.  I’m alive.  Holy hell.

I still had no idea where I was or where I was going. I saw a single chairlift and aimed for the bottom.  I knew I could make it, staying focused on the goal and my breath.

I reached the bottom of the chair and bent over to see which one it was…Grouse Mountain.

Do I get back on?

Oh hell no, I muttered.  I skated over to Larkspur instead…back to my comfort zone while I processed what just happened.

Very rarely do I get that freaked out.  I know my limitations and don’t typically push the boundaries unless I feel like I’m ready.  Today I was pushed over the edge (those damn twenty-somethings) and found that I might have been more ready than I thought.

When I got back to the car, I looked at the trail map to figure out where I was.  I went down Golden Eagle, a double black diamond.  You rockstar, I muttered.

Super G? I’m super grateful.  Sometimes it is I that becomes the limiting factor when it comes to trying something new.  Today, I unknowingly asked for more and surprised myself.

I’ve renamed that run (I have a habit of doing that…it helps me remember them) Screaming Eagle.


It just goes to show that I am not immune to fear of new situations.  While I may appear to be foot-loose and fancy-free in my adventures, I still have work to do.



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