The heavy, white cloud that was hanging over the mountain yesterday settled into the canyon overnight. The winds that buffeted the house all night long have calmed somewhat, and are now just softly gusting snowflakes outside my window. A white veil obscures my view of the mountains in the distance. Finally, the snow is here.
As I pull my ski socks up to my knees, it occurs to me that this pair of socks only went skiing once last year, the day I took a tumble, and tore a ligament in my knee. What a way to start the new year in 2013. It’s easy to remember the date of MY SKIING ACCIDENT, anyway. I was hoping by now to have made another attempt at the slopes. I've gained a new respect for gravity, and hospital bills. For now, the socks help keep my calves warm as I trudge up the canyon during my daily hikes on these chilly winter days.
Yesterday was my challenge day. It was a personal challenge to myself, to double my hiking time, and to see how far I could go. The time seemed to fly as I passed by my usual landmarks…one mile, one and a half, two miles. “Goodbye, Fire Hydrant number two! I’m off to new horizons today!” I was able to climb 1,051 feet, and cover a distance of seven miles in two hours.
|My friend, Fire Hydrant #2|
My Runkeeper app helped me keep track of distance, time and elevation. My iPod kept me from hearing my heavy breathing. There were times I would crest a hill, only to see a deep drop that led to another small peak. I kept pushing through. There were large patches of ice where the snow had melted, frozen, re-melted, and refrozen. I avoided the ice by hiking along the edges of the dirt road in the snowpack. For once, I wished for snowshoes. My weight would drive my hiking shoes deep into the snow. My no-show ankle socks that I wore yesterday were no protection as the snow slid past my calves. I tried running “lightly” to see if that helped. It didn’t, but it was kind of fun, so I did it any time I was in the relative safety of the crunch snow that flanked the sheets of ice.
At the one-hour mark, I found myself three and a half miles from home, surrounded by pine trees, receding snow, and water running down the canyon in the creek. It was quiet, and peaceful. I felt like such a conqueror; not better than anyone else, but better than the person I was just a month ago, content to sit on the couch most of every day. It felt so good to be outdoors. I know this. Why do I forget this? Breathing in the crispest, freshest air filled my lungs with healthy oxygen, and my soul with hope.
So today, as a soft snow falls outside, I will pull my ski pants over my ski socks, and get ready to brave the elements. I have no desire to go another seven miles today, but I want to be outside, to feel the chill, and watch the snow. I intend to set weekly challenges for myself in the future, to test my limits, and reach new destinations. My ski gear has me thinking it is time to give skiing another chance, too. There's a challenge that has been waiting to be set all winter. I will seek to find a little more courage to make that a reality.
This weekend my favorite resort Eagle Point is offering discounted lift tickets. I may have to surprise my son, and take him skiing. By writing this, I'm setting a challenge for myself. Now to dig deep, and find my brave again to make this written wish a reality. My knee has healed, but my spirit still carries a battle scar that is not as easily mended. I’m finding that once fear has served its purpose, it is time to be courageous, and move past the fear. Facing the slopes will be the best way to do that. Here’s to bravery, and not allowing fear to control me any more.