Not Alone

Posted on by Sandell Morse

551506_10205037432549731_8727745507968798766_n-1I drop down over the lip, my skis slipping sideways as I look for my first turn around a large awkwardly shaped mogul. In all of the years, I have been skiing at Sunday River in Maine, I’ve waved goodbye to this trail, my skis crossing from west to east. I’d stop at the Peak Lodge warm up, and then go on. But this is the year of New England snow, three major storms in three weeks, piles and piles of snow. If I was going to ski the Monkey, this was the moment. And, today, I was not alone.

I’d met Lynne the week before. She was skiing with two other women. I was skiing solo, waiting for all three to slide into position for the chair. She waved. “Come ride with us.” As I sat back onto the chair, all three women introduced themselves. How nice to be picked up by three friendly, chatty women, who would turn out to be dynamite skiers. At the top of the lift, Lynne waved, again. “Come ski with us.”

This was my winter of decision. After years and years of skiing together, my husband was tired, out of shape and still smoking. I’d lost my ski buddy. Skiing is a social sport, much more fun when you ski with others. For the past few winters, I’d been skiing mostly solo. I loved the sport. I was skiing strong, and I wasn’t ready to give it up. What was I going to do?

“Come ski with us any time,” Lynne said. “We meet at the Peak Lodge at ten.” She gave me her number, and I pressed it into my phone.

*

The Flying Monkey is never groomed. It is the eastern most trail in the Land of Oz where trails have names like Lost Princess, Tin Woodsman, Emerald City and Ruby Palace. Here, the snow is always natural. Often unskiable. Surprisingly, Lynne who spends her winters at Sunday River hasn’t skied the Monkey either. She is off to my right. Down the hill, Rick, Lynne’s friend, picks his way. He knows this mountain. The challenge of the Monkey is a glade of dead trees, gray poles sticking up from the snow. And rocks. And of course the moguls. But today, the snow is soft. I look for my next turn, point my skis, and then drop down into a depression at the bottom of the mogul. I slide through. Another pole plant, another drop and slide. I am skiing slowly, my whole body turning and melting with this mountain. My mind empties. I find my rhythm. I pause and listen to the silence. Both Rick and Lynne are out of sight. I am alone, but not alone. To my left, a sharp drop. I move right and begin, again, planting my pole, sliding around and through. I am the dancer I used to be. I am a skier.

At the base of the trail, Lynne, Rick and I click poles. I give Lynne a mittened high five. Now, lunch. Or at least a break. But on the chair, we change our minds and head toward Blind Ambition, a gladed run with live trees and a very gentle slant. Again, we ski natural snow, turning and gliding through glades.

I love the challenge of skiing through woods. I also love speed on smooth, steep groomed runs. I love that feeling of emptying out, my mind and body becoming one. Decisions can be split second, a chunk of hard snow, and I quickly lift a ski, the sound of another skier or a boarder, and I glance up the hill. When the trail is clear, I am pure light and energy, skiing sure. Skiing fast.

At the chair lift, Lynne, Rick and I slide into position. We travel west to east, passing the top of Flying Monkey. We stop for photos. After a quick snack at the Peak Lodge, Lynne picks up more friends. The sun drops low in the sky, and now, she and I are alone. I turn right. She turns left and calls back. “Let me know when you’re coming again.”

I end my day as I began, skiing solo down South Paw. I am alone, but not alone.

 


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4 Responses to Not Alone

  1. Rick says:

    Nice writing. Did you get the rest of the pictures from Lynne?

  2. Pingback: Bethel Citizen 3/5/15 | Prime Time Ski Club

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