February 20th, 2006

duke-ski

Local Ski Afternoon

Sunday, for the first time ever, I went skiing all by myself. All on my own! I'm rather proud of myself. I'm very shy about doing things alone, especially when other people (aka strangers) will be around. I hate being "out of my element", and I hate the discomfort of figuring out new things alone under imaginary scrutiny.

That's why, sometimes, I do stuff alone anyway. It's good to do scary things now and then, because it makes me stronger and braver. I prove to myself that I'm capable anyway.

I've really enjoyed getting into skiing this past year and a half. But I've only ever done it with friends. Specifically, I find somebody who knows what they're doing and convince them to let me join in. Then I don't have to worry about any of the hard stuff -- where to go, what to do, how it works. They know. Or if it happens that neither of us know, at least we are clueless together.

But this isn't much of a hobby, if I'm not capable of doing it without somebody (figuratively) holding my hand! My ski purchase will be a waste of money, and I won't enjoy the sport enough.

So yesterday I decided to take myself out skiing at one of the local areas. I'd heard good things about Mt Holly, so that's where I wanted to head. I mentioned my plans to my skiing buddies, asking if they wanted to join me... but when they said they probably wouldn't be available, I didn't press the matter.

I nearly chickened out approximately 111 times. It took me forever to get moving, to talk myself into climbing out of bed, putting on warm clothes, and heading out the door. I kept checking and double-checking the website, half hoping that I'd find a reason not to go. I came up with a bunch of reasons to stay home -- you're still recovering from your cold, you need to sort your mail, you have a book to read, you won't have much time, it will be cold, etc, etc, etc.

Strange how hard it is sometimes, to talk myself into doing something fun.

Finally I got all my gear together and started driving north. I still kept trying to talk myself out of it, but eventually I found the hill and parked my car. I changed into my boots in the parking lot, picked up my skis and poles, and walked toward the building. Feeling very conspicuous and out of place, for no good reason.

I successfully managed to purchase a lift ticket, procure a map, and find my way to the ski areas, all on my own. Go me! It's silly, but I still felt terribly awkward and out of place.

Not ultra-confident about my ability to remember how to ski, I started with the green runs. There were two, on top of a tow rope. A tow rope! I haven't used one of those since I was a kid. They're not very easy or comfortable, I've found. I clumsily grabbed on, and started sliding up. The thing was quite annoying, and I got sick of it about two thirds of the way up.

I let go and skied easily back down the hill, reminding myself how to turn, and how icy snow feels under skis. Already through with the tow rope, I headed over to my first chair lift.

I did a longer green run a couple more times, then tackled some blues. Then more blues. As I started getting the feel of where things were, I started to feel more comfortable and confident. I had fun! By the end of my time there, I even felt confident enough to try some black diamonds. Not "real" black diamonds, just Mt Holly black diamonds... but still. They weren't bad -- in fact, they were really fun!

After I'd done the White Lightening a few times, and even gotten the courage to try Thunderbolt twice, the blues I'd been enjoying earlier looked pretty tame. I didn't try anything really crazy, and I only fell once. It was a good afternoon. I have to admit it wasn't as fun as the social group skiing that I'm used to, but I enjoyed it anyway.

I did something I was nervous about, and had fun. Plus, I got some good practice in, and I gave my skis some extra use!

It was bitterly cold on the chair lifts, but I hardly noticed the cold when I was actually skiing. My stuffy nose and head were virtually unnoticeable, through the general coldness of being outside. So it was a fun afternoon, and I'm really glad I went. I only was there three, maybe four hours, but I hit most of the runs (that I thought I could handle) at least a couple of times. It was a good outing.

When I decided I was done skiing, I took off my skis, picked them up, and walked back to my car. Just as simple as that. Kinda neat! I'm glad I did it, because now skiing by myself is not a Scary Unknown. Or at least, it's less. And that's a very good thing.