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.