Over the past few days out we have been seeking out a definition as to what we are pursuing in outdoor adventure. We are looking to define what the end goal is, and what are our days are building toward. No, Mickey Spades, I am not talking about definition like your abs you are so proud of. (I wonder if it is possible for a 120 pound kid to have abs? When I was Mickey’s age, we called kids like him skinny.) While most of my outdoor group seeks definition by our actions, Mickey is looking for it at GNC.
I have spent the last two days (Sunday and Monday) at ‘The Stash’ trying to live up to what I define my pursuit as. For me, these smaller trips are about having fun with friends, getting out, and refining my skills for greater objectives. I think over the past few months I have been consistently achieving the first two objectives for my outdoor pursuits, but missing the overall goal; I do not know if I have been truly refining my skills or thinking about doing anything bigger or more adventurous than the normal trips.
I have skied more times to date this season than any previous year. I have so far achieved a handful of resort days, a bunch of backcountry days, and a bunch of days where I have managed to blend the two together (such as Wachusett skin and skis). I have hiked, climbed, and skinned more vertical feet at this point this year than any prior season as well.
In addition to logging a bunch of days on snow this season, I have also managed to get out with a fairly diverse group of people. This season has been excellent not only in the quantity of snow we have received, but also in the amount of ski partners I have had to choose from. So far this season I have only skied alone once, and that was because the snow we were receiving made getting to the mountain so difficult that my partner for the day gave up. This season has so far been hugely successful in reconnecting with past ski partners, as well as creating a bunch of new ones.
It is the last objective that I have struggled with this season. While I have made great strides on my telemark gear this year, I have been hesitant to bring them to ‘The Stash,’ opting to ride my snowboard (which I am much more confident on). My snowboard ensures that I will ride the trails of my choosing with confidence and focus my energy on having an enjoyable day out. What the snowboard deprives me of, however, is growth. I know that I can ride the trails on my board, and am not learning new skills or building on old ones by riding trails that I have ridden a bunch of times in the past.
On Sunday I opted to bring the tele skis to ‘The Stash’ and mentally prepared myself to be frustrated. It was particularly difficult to deal with the learning curve of skiing ‘The Stash’ as the day was gorgeous and the conditions were fantastic. After my first run, I was forced to abandon any hope of skiing my favorite trails in favor of riding the ‘road’ for the day, as the road seemed to be all the challenge I could handle. As my friends whooped it up and Mickey ‘Spadebugged’ down my favorite runs, I did my best to ski ‘The Stash’s’ easiest run.
It killed me inside to watch Mickey ski my favorite runs (albeit not very well) as I suffered trying to turn on ‘The Stash’s’ widest and most manageable trail. However, my turns started becoming crisper and easier after a few runs , and on Monday the turns came even easier than before. With each run, I could feel my confidence grow and I began to tackle some of the more difficult trails. While there is still room for lots of improvement, and it could be many seasons before I am as comfortable on my skis as I am on my snowboard, I am once again feeling myself improving. It is a long path but a path worth following.
I think it is an interesting exercise to honestly try to define your pursuits and see if you are on the right course to achieve them. By focusing on developing my backcountry telemark skills, I am on the road to being able to bring them to bigger and more challenging places. I am excited about growing my skill set and taking advantage of ‘The Stash’ while it is in great condition. As ‘The Stash’ begins to fade, I am hopeful that I will be able to bring my newly developed skills North to undefined objectives.
Lastly, I have added one more objective to my definition, and that is to give Mickey Spades a run for his money in ‘The Stash’s’ glades before the end of the season. Good luck Mickey Spades (and by the way, you cannot find definition in a bottle, only through hard work).