As I sit here wrapping up my first week of a healing a collarbone I broke skiing, I am reminded of the iconic Brady Bunch “Hawaii Bound” episode. I imagine you are wondering “what does a skiing accident have to do with the Brady Bunch?” or “a skiing accident reminds you of a Brady Bunch episode that takes place in Hawaii?” Let me explain.
A few weeks ago, I woke up early Monday morning to skin up, and ski down my local mountain before work. Pulling up to the resort on that particular Monday morning, I was blown away by the amount of detritus I found around the mountain’s base. On a normal mornings I would occasionally spy a pair of rental skis left in the racks by the front entrance of the main building, or a lonely pole forgotten against the fence next to the bar. That morning, however, was an anomaly. The base was littered with forgotten skis, poles, and snowboards.
Clicking my into my skis as I scanned the abandoned equipment, I began the slow process of skinning up the mountain when I noticed “them”—a pair of older model Black Diamond adjustable ski poles. I was glad for the amount of time it takes to skin up the mountain as it gave me time to think; while part of me really wanted to take the poles, another part of me knew that I should leave them. As I got nearer to the top of the mountain, I secretly hoped that by the time returned to the base, someone from the mountain’s operations team would have begun scooping that stuff up, ridding me of having to make any kind of ethical decision.
Continuing my ascent, I rationalized taking them. I thought things like: If the person really cared about them, they wouldn’t have forgotten about them / A person so careless probably hasn’t even realized that they forgot their poles / If I don’t take them, someone else will / If this person did forget their poles, what are the odds that they even return for them? / Our mountain isn’t exactly local to many people—coming back for the poles would probably be more expensive than just getting new ones. As I tried to justify taking the poles, I thought about how disappointed I would be if I left something behind and returned not to find it.
I hadn’t consciously made a decision by time I started skiing downhill…but perhaps I had subconsciously. There are numerous ways to descend the mountain, and rarely do I show up with a plan; I typically descend whichever trails I happen to be in the mood for. But on that morning, my chosen route took me right by the Black Diamond ski poles. Skiing past the poles I grabbed them, equating taking the poles as taking a baby away from an unfit mother in my head. Clearly whoever had left these very nice ski poles behind isn’t fit to be in possession of them, and they would be better served living with a good, ski-loving family. I never felt good about my decision—even while eating lunch that day, I flirted with the idea of bringing the poles back to the mountain and reuniting them with their rightful owner.
You are probably wondering at this moment what does this have to do with the Brady Bunch “Hawaii Bound” episode? In that episode, Peter removes a small tiki idol from a construction site his family visits (the overreaching arc of this story is that Peter’s dad, an architect, brings the family with him on his Hawaiian business trip). Peter believes himself fortunate and thinks the idol will bring him good luck, but the idol is evil and brings misfortune to whoever is in possession of it. To me, the the Black Diamond ski poles are that idol from the Brady Bunch. The epic snow we had been receiving stopped, I’ve suffered a season-ending injury, and am trying to fight off a bout of pneumonia. Taking the poles that morning was wrong, and my actions certainly invoked the wrath of the ski gods.
(If you lost a pair of adjustable Black Diamond ski poles from Crotched Mountain sometime this February and can describe them, leave a comment and I will get them back to you.)