My butt could be frozen to the bumper of my car, but it could also be that my quads have revolted. Right now, I just can’t tell you. My fingers, along with my toes (and probably my cheeks) are aching to feel something besides pain from the cold. But at least they are aching, so they are still there? The only other thing I can feel is the straining facial muscles holding my ridiculous smile in place.
But this is the end, let’s go to the start.
A generous whiskey ends another Friday filled with beer, mixed drinks, vegetarian mish mashes and vinyl exploration. I want to tell you, reader, that it is late, but reality says that it’s probably about 10:18pm when we hit the sack. The smart ones chug a pint of water; the dumb ones, well, don’t.
The alarm spurs me out of my dream where I was dreaming of still sleeping. It’s dark out and the buffeting wind against the cottage makes my anus pucker. My brain begs me to stay in bed where windchills and frozen eyelids don’t exist. Morty is already up making us coffee and working on our teeth-brush soundtrack. Lee, if her eyes were open, would be shooting daggers at me with them. But I can’t see them cause of the pillow over face, and Tucker’s excited butt on the aforementioned pillow.
We all deal with early morning differently: Morty is casually ambivalent, I am hazily pondering nothing at all, Lee is in shambles and Tucker wants his food. We are a team, we all play our parts.
After a delicious breakfast of coffee, and leftovers covered in morning cheese, we all slump down in front of our packs. Skins, neck warmer, face warmer, thin gloves, long underwear, goggles, warm gloves, longer underwear, cool hat that accurately captures your interests, level of fashion and level of care all in one logo. It all goes in the car.
The drive to find the goods, the reason we punish ourselves for hours in exchange for minutes of pleasure, is what I imagine limbo to be like, that space you find yourself before someone/something decides if you go to heaven or hell. Not much is said, but there is electricity in the air.
Powder, glory face shots, soft corduroy, none of these things are where we head. We follow our hearts to the spot we think the least amount of fellow idiots will be. It pays to be an anti-social skier. Especially after 1-3cm of blower powder (am I right in only thinking east coast skiers will find this funny?).
While Tucker wonders where his second breakfast is, we gather our wits and our insulated apparel to slowly and clumsily slide our way up the chosen mound we call today’s challenge. I won’t say smiles have overtaken our firm faces (possibly because I can’t feel it); however, something of a smirk lies in wait.
Morty and I talk aimlessly about past trips, lines that could have been, and turns that never were, while Lee gets her core temp up to that of an engine block in the Arctic. It is this moment, before the mediocre skiing, where I feel part of something, feel like someone should write a short story about us, where we feel ourselves.
No other time do I feel more energized, less anxious, and fully awake as when we reach the summit, no mater how big or small, and the dense evergreens begin to open up as they thin out above us and compete with the crisp morning sky.
The giddiness of knowing what is coming puts some pep in our step. The dad jokes come out. And sometimes the whiskey if we got a late start. What’s coming? It doesn’t matter, folks. Low aspect ice, steep tight death shrubs, eastern cement mixed with death cookies. It’s all good.
It’s about the comradery of getting up too early, the pain of breathing cold air through your lungs, the love of finding untouched powder (even when you know there isn’t any out there), and it’s about finally doing what you have wanted to do all week. It’s about seeing the honest smiles on your friend’s faces, and understanding your friendship is real. It can also sometimes be about swerving into trees so as not to cut Tucker with our skis.
And it’s certainly about the moment you get to put your frozen bum down on that bumper with a smile and share a thermos of warm tea with friends.
Find your bumper.