Friday, January 7, 2011

In Honor of Peak 8's Black Diamonds, Breckenridge

Nearly four years ago, I chose to make Colorado my home because of this season called winter. White fluffy goodness spread over mountain peaks, speckled with fur trees and ski lifts. Could it get any better? Keystone, Aspen, Vail, Loveland, The Beave, Arapahoe Basin, Winter Park, Copper... and then Breckenridge. The latter 8 I found much to my liking, Breck not so much.

When I first moved to CO, I was invited to stay at a friend's ski in ski out condo at the base of Peak 9, Breckenridge. I thoroughly enjoyed being able to roll out of bed, brush teeth, have a little breakfast, and hop on the ski lift. No complaints there. I also enjoyed the fact that when we were done skiing and had soaked in the hot tub awhile, we could just walk outside the door and be in a charming little mountain town filled with art galleries, gear shops, ski town bars, and nice restaurants. It is a picturesque place, the site of Dumb and Dumber's "Aspen."

But the skiing, I wasn't crazy about. Breck requires a lot of traversing and cat walks to get across the mountain, you've gotta ski a green to get to a black. In my past three speed-thirsty years, I have reluctantly skiid Breck because that's where my ski buddies were going. Not my fav, I always said.

Well the chips turned when Dan recently introduced me to the "Runs off Chair 6" Peak 8. There are about five nice long bump runs, all of a fairly equal challenge, and located in somewhat of a valley where the sun does not create "surprise" ice under the snow. More recently I have become like a kid standing behind the rope at Disney Land, Can we go in? When are they gonna cut the rope? I want those runs, the runs off Chair 6, Peak 8. I want them bad.

Those are the runs that I have gotten down before, and I can get down again. They are the runs that make my quad muscles burn, and leave me at the bottom lusting to go back up and conquer it just one more time. Its kind of like going surfing, I can't get enough.

I like the moguls because they challenge me, well first they scare me, and then once I get into the middle of them, I am determined to get down... and then they don't scare me anymore, they are merely obstacles to be overcome, obstacles that will make my quads and my lust burn more.

As I was making my way down recently, Dan was a mere speck at the bottom of the run, it was just me and the mountain... I realized that with moguls, you often times choose your course, you have to, but inevitably (for me at least), speed will cause me to change it, or perhaps I will catch an edge and have to take a different route through the bumps, then choosing another course, always planning my decent a few yards out. It can be dangerous, as I am a mogul-amateur, to plan my decent all of the way down. I choose my route, just a few yards, a few bumps ahead, and when derailed from this path, I adjust and choose another.

I laughed recently when a friend of mine told me that her younger sister has a five and ten year plan for her life. I didn't laugh at this young woman, but I laughed at the irony... of life. And I thought of my lesson from the mountain.

No doubt I need intention, a goal in mind, a plan for achieving that goal in order to get anywhere that I want to be. I carve out my own life, I make it what I want, absolutely. But what about that place where I get going just a little too fast, and I have to take a small detour in order to not ski out of control... then I find I'm on a new path, having to navigate a new way down, and perhaps a better way. And what about that edge that I catch, not knowing its coming, I may lose my bearings for a moment and have to reroute in order to maintain control on my skiis. And then there are those places where it gets a little steep, and I begin to feel like I'm in over my head, much in the same way I did on a surf board, when the ocean was angry, and I knew I was out of my league, and needed to go back to the beach. It is then that navigating my way across a steep spot and onto a new course could save me a broken leg or a broken neck.

Some of my best moments in life have been those detours, or reroutes that I had not anticipated when I originally plotted the course. I will get down the mountain, I will eventually meet Dan at the lift, but it doesn't hurt to reroute a little bit here and there, to test my limits, to learn what works and what doesn't, to leave room for the unexpected.

A five year plan is an ambitious undertaking. I wouldn't deter anyone from making one. I say go for it! But within that plan, leave room for change, growth, grace for yourself when you catch an edge. Maintain the flexibility to change your course if need be, and always leave room for life's surprises.

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