Thursday, 12 March 2009 22:00
I've spent more winter days tromping around the Sierra backcountry than resort days this year. I've taken a lot of rap from those that don't understand why. But I am not so concerned with the lack of runs, the hike, or the effort it takes to summit a peak. I love all of it. I even love the first ten minutes of the hike when I realize that I have on one too many layers, I didn't drink enough water, and those two beers I drank the night before have initiated a delayed-onset hangover. Nothing matters but the mountain and being in the moment. I imagine my Clif Bar is a stale loaf of bread, my double cleaned and sterelized Camelback a dirty, old cantine. My internal music generator plays songs that are in sync with nature around me, and I leave the technology that has no utility behind me. I pretend I am a modern day John Muir; a charasmatic picture of what a true wilderness enthusiast is. I step lightly, and breathe deeply. I soak up the sun. With my snowboard on my back and joy in my heart, I forge ahead. I always look forward to leaving the city life behind, and all of my to-dos left undone because in nature, my mind is free and my thoughts have a place to go.
In January, I had an unfortunate tumble while hiking Mt. Rose. I was laid up for four weeks with a sprained left wrist and out-of-whack hip, but by mid-February my injuries were dramatically better. Against doctor's orders and my better common sense, I planned a day off of work to accommodate for an approaching weather shift, hoping for some powder turns. The day before my scheduled day off to go ride, I was in a car wreck. Although the injuries from that accident didn't warrant a hospital visit or a careflight trip, I banged my knee and bruised my right hand. My John Muir-esque daydream was slowly being reduced to a reality that I wasn't too happy with. I was hurt. Although I never really took a lot of time off from snowboarding to recover, I missed out on some great days and I was forced to cope with being hurt, being bummed, and being overwhelmed with the frustrations of dealing with the aftermath of a month of accidents. Even after I thought I felt better, the subsequent days on the mountain were pain-filled. I couldn't make fast time on hikes, and falling on my arm sent a dull, painful reminder to my brain that I needed to chill out. Eventually I did. Small hikes that didn't require any inverted aerials or other fancy snowboarding tricks, were my medicine. So I drowned my self-pity in a several day dose of sunshine, building mini-shred booters in the Mt. Rose backcountry and laughing wildly with my children. I learned to listen to my body's begging plea to rest and recoup. I also learned that my greatest joy remains the same, and the outdoors will always be the best medicine for me.