Retreat From the Indoors, There Are Tests There!

November 19, 2012

Hello Everybody!

After my first day of break, I honestly feel great! There is nothing better than having absolutely nothing to do for an entire day, except for ride bikes with your friends and watch extremely long movies!

However, today I get to write the glog post I’ve been wanting to write since the start of the school year… It’s about this awesome group:

The many amazing people of Earn Your Turns! From left to right: Mr. Manning, Me, Kenzie Clark ’13, Pete Hoops ’13, Mr. Hedden, and   Mr. Riley. (Photo Credits to Mr. Hayward!)…(Missing from photo: Mr. Hayward, Mr. Harkins)

It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining, it was about 32 degrees, it was 6:30… and the snow guns were going. As you can probably see, the snow wasn’t the best. It wasn’t non-existent, but there definitely could have been more. However, when I got to the bell tower at 6:30, there were a pile of people with smiles on their faces ready to load the bus, hike up and ski down all before reading day (the day before the week of exams where all students cram for two hours with teachers and eat lots of junk food!)! I couldn’t stop smiling, I was finally in that zone where I was totally happy: I knew what was going on, I knew what I was doing, and best of all, I was with seven other people who were in the same boat as I was!

We chatted on the way up, we slipped, we slid, and about halfway up Cascades (the lower half of the trail we hiked up), the snow started sticking to my skins. For those of you who don’t know about backcountry, slackcountry or sidecountry skiing, there are a couple key pieces of equipment that differ from regular alpine skis: First, a pair of bindings that have the ability to hinge at the toe when you want them to. Whether it’s a pair of AT bindings (What I like to ski, I’m more comfortable skiing down with my heel attached to the ski) or Telemark bindings (Lots of people swear by this, including Mr. Hayward and Mr. Hedden, who are quite fun to watch!). The second part of the kit are skins. Essentially, they are things that you attach to the bottoms of your skis, and they have millions of tiny hair-like fibers that all point one way. Because they all point down the hill, you can push your ski forward but not back so that as you ascend, your skis stay put for every step downwards, but you can move them forwards (up the hill). Kinda hard to explain, but they are cool! Otherwise, you can still hike, like Kenzie and Pete did.

Anyways, my skins froze, which essentially means that the snow melted as the skins went over it, then as I stepped refroze in between the fibers, and then piles of snow stuck to my skis. My best guess was that I had between 10 and 15 pounds of snow on my skis! Eventually, I gave up on trying to skin, and attached them to my back. I hiked the rest of the way up, and finally found myself at the top! Smiles all around as we sat in the Ski Patrol shack, and jokes and laughter (Mr. Hedden was definitely right when he said “Eastern skiers are definitely the most patient powder lovers out there! I mean, we wait all year for one or two good storms, but we don’t stop skiing if there isn’t a storm!”

Now, I know this might sound kind of weird to some of you, but there is something about hiking a mountain that changes your perspective on it. It’s kind of like taking a microscope to a bug: there are tons of little things you would have never seen, never thought about unless you had looked a little closer. This is what ET did for me: It showed me that there was more to the mountains than just being a slope to zoom down. Hiking up has shown me the full effects of Climate Change on the skiing community, and also shows me what we take for granted every time we get on a chairlift: The mountain. Little bits of terrain, weird trees, funny animals, you see them all on the way up, and they are lost on the way down. That also seeded itself in my senior four point: It quickly went from a peak bagging mission, to enjoying the mountains to the full extent, and enjoying the precious time we spend each day. To be totally honest, after you hike a mountain once, you know why lift tickets cost $70! It’s a whole lot of work!

So anyways, I guess the point is, the tests are inside, and unlimited smiles are outside. Study for the tests, of course, but make sure to do something that makes you happy every once in a while! Also, enjoy the little things. When you go 100 miles an hour all the time, you miss them. Every now and then you just gotta slow down!

Also, thanks to the group that hiked up with me on Wednesday! I had a blast, and I can’t wait to hike up with you guys again!

Here are the stats for my hike, from the app skitracks for iPhone:

This is the route we took, upside down if you are looking up from the bottom of Barker. Also, there was definitely way more snow than the picture shows! 🙂

Speed and Altitude for the hike up!

 

Have  a great week everybody!

~John

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