An Uphill Perspective

This week I ventured over to my local ski area for a hike on the trails.  My goal on this beautiful summer day was a simple one:  to hike to the peak while enjoying the beauty of a ski slope that I knew well. 

For my journey, I selected a scenic trail that I have skied many times.  The trail provides an incredible sense of peace on a cold and crisp winter morning, winding you through a silent and beautiful hardwood forest.  Rated as a “Green” for skiing, this trail can occasionally be frustrating for both skiers and snowboarders as they lose speed on the flat sections; for today’s hike, however, I felt this would play to my advantage.  I was therefore ready for what I thought would be an easy and familiar journey.

As I started the hike, I was immediately faced with a new, uphill perspective.  The trail, thickly overgrown in the summer with shrubs and weeds, seemed much narrower than I remembered, and my trek was reduced to following a thin, meandering dirt path.  Boulders, silently hidden under the snow in the winter, were now fully revealed and frequently impeded the trip.  Trail signs jutted twelve feet in the air as if built for giants, warning of dangers not relevant in the summer.

From below, the trail’s incline not only looked much steeper than expected, but also quickly got my quads burning and blood pressure rising.  I soon longed for the section of the trail where the snowboarders always get stuck.  Looking further uphill, I occasionally I got a glimpse of trails in the distance that looked incredibly rocky and steep; had I seen these trails from this perspective before I skied them, I surely would have thought twice before taking the downhill challenge.

In the final hair pin stretch just below the peak, I was surprised to discover a waterfall that ran noisily underneath the trail via a culvert.  How had I missed this when skiing?  Was it because the stream was normally frozen and silent during the winter, or, more likely, was it because I was too busy concentrating on navigating the turn and staying on the slope?  I wondered how many other details I may have missed as I focused on getting my skis down the mountain.

Finally reaching the summit, I again found myself on familiar ground.  With an 180˚ view stretching across the Green Mountains of Vermont, the Whites of New Hampshire, and the Adirondacks, I knew immediately where I was:  I was standing atop the peak of my favorite ski resort.  What had changed, however, was my appreciation of the raw beauty and powerful terrain of the slopes.  I now understood that I had previously only seen one side of the mountain.

This season, as I schuss happily down the slopes, I will carry with me a new perspective.

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