Crappy Diem –

In Defense of Skiing in the Rain

I’m settling back in at my perch atop the Cascadian crest after recovering/returning from the Snowsports Industries of America show last week.  Outside the same enduring battle of freezing levels rages on; and endless back and forth of rain, snow, sleet, and every elemental state of matter H20 can occupy in between.   Despite the preseason hype, thus far this has defined the 2010-2011 “La Nada” winter.

nullClaming_wet-snow.jpg As wet as snow can get before changing to rain. 2-3-11

But looking out these windows, the mountains maintain a stalwart, irrepressible quality despite the mixed bag of conditions thrown at them.  The Cascades don’t care; they’ll take the freezing rain, hurricane-force winds, and entombing snowfalls in stride. They’ve been through the fire before, and nothing, not even the elemental forces of nature themselves phase their proud buttresses.

So sitting here in my warm, insulated bubble atop Stevens Pass, I can’t help but feel a tinge of guilt.  I purport to be a part of these mountains, connected in a deep and meaningful way to their granitic roots. But when the rain comes, I do not take it in stride. Like so many of us, I choose not to venture out, but remain in my warm cocoon, staring with selfish and soft dejection out the windows.

It’s time to harden up.

Yesterday afternoon I went skiing in the rain.  Not for a run or two, but for a significant portion of the day.  Shoulder to wet shoulder, my two friends and I explored the mountain with adolescent excitement and intrigue. We skied in between dark flowing creek holes, across glacial sheets of blue ice, and whipped our way through slowly sliding, somewhat rolling piles of mashed potatoes.  We rode every chair on the mountain at least once, acquired GNAR points at every possible opportunity, and by the end of the day, despite the highest quality gear, were soaked to the core. 

nullBattle-Cat-in-the-Creek.jpg05-Webcam.jpg Could always be worse...Webcam photo from Jan, 19th 2005. The most depressing season on record.

Sure my gloves still weigh twice what they should, my boots smell like a malaria infested swamp, and every gram of wax has been stripped from my bases; but the truth remains that I had a memorably great time, and I’m headed out to do it all again today.

Would I rather have sunshine or even more preferably piles of that Pacific Northwest powder that we are so well know for – of course. But given the choice between driving this desk all damn day or spending time with friends outside in the mountains regardless of the conditions, the choice is simple.

nullBattle-Cat-in-the-Creek.jpg Mike D, currently the "GM" of night operations sends it deep during the 04/05 winter

What we take to each day roundly defines our experiences, personal satisfaction, and by extension the road ahead. Yesterday’s rain soaked shred session underscores what Garth Stein so artfully articulates in The Art of Racing in the Rain:

 "That which we manifest is before us; we are the creators of our own destiny. Be it through intention or ignorance, our successes and our failures have been brought on by none other than ourselves" 

So here I sit. It’s 36 degrees and raining… again. Yup, by all accounts it sucks outside.  But ahead lies a fork in the road; I know which direction I will take. Grab a poncho, put your spare goggles in a zip lock bag, and get after it. There’s no time like the present; we are all subjects of a natural cycle. What we do with the time we are given is our choice.

“When life gives you lemons, you paint that shit gold.” – Atmosphere

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