One month ago, I did not think this would be possible. I gave up. Late season Tuckerman Ravine turns were not going to happen. But inspiration struck and I had a goal. One more ski day. July turns. Something I had not experienced since 2011 due to two back to back poor snow years. I started hiking to test my legs. And I discovered that despite poor health, fatigue, and locomotion issues, I was still very capable of hiking. I determined that I would not be denied.
The saying “life’s a journey, not a destination” has always produced bile in my mouth. So condescending and trite. Yea, I get it. I get it like you’re smacking a brick against my temple. And you’re wrong.
Without a destination in mind, we are aimless and adrift, lacking in purpose or intent. We need something to overcome, we need to will ourselves towards something. And while the actual overcoming happens during the journey, that doesn’t happen until we draw a bead on something and identify it as important.
Haphazard circumstance is amazing when randomness configures a seemingly serendipitous plan. I get it — look no further than the origin of this web site’s name. But when you are adrift, there is no journey. Years blow by and nothing gets better, it keeps getting worse.
From Noon Peak’s cliffs, Jennings Peak, and Sandwich Dome, I spied my destination off in the distance. The journey made me aware that — I got this — despite my current condition. But locking into a destination and deciding to go for it got me putting one foot in front of the other.
Without one there isn’t the other.
A destination is powerful. Why go on a journey, any ways? Because it’s there? Because it’s still there? Because I love it? Perhaps. Or rather, because I need to. The journey is irrelevant as long as I am on one, as long as something is important enough to pursue.
It was never supposed to be like this.
Nine years ago, I fled Massachusetts to take a job in Vermont. I choose to leave the city, my friends, and my family behind to pursue outdoor recreation sans traffic, attitudes, pollution, and suburbia. I was running towards something, not away from something.
And it was amazing. There is something to be said for radical change. Dreaming up an idea and taking a risk. It is nice to have the freedom to do so rather than feeling trapped, without a dream to pursue — the locked down oppressive feeling I have come to know so well.
Seven years ago, I moved to central New Hampshire, sandwiched between the lakes and the mountains. Two hours or less from almost every ski area that I cared to ski, forty minutes from my favorite mountain. A perfect location. I once dreamily stated that it would be great if this specific position in this specific location opened up and I could get the job. And I did.
It was the last time that I could rely on haphazard circumstance to determine my direction. Which was fine for a few years. What was once endless enthusiasm for my work and my play carried me through four great years. But the last three years have been a grind professionally and personally — a grind that has had serious effects on my health.
But I think I am on the mend.
Very little likely remains of the Superstar Glacier by the time this report is posted (more than two weeks after the trip). Killington legitimately pushed operations as long as they could feasibly go given the remaining snow. As it was, some might have suggested that walking was required in multiple locations. But as with so much in life, a single thing that is observed or experienced can yield varied and equally legitimate perspectives.
My perspective was that stepping out of your skis was not only not required, but a waste of time that diminished the enjoyment. To get to the snow, I gladly sidestepped my skis down the headwall over rock and dirt. Two chasms, muddy and growing, were easily straightlined providing an opportunity for flourish and flair. Superstar could be lapped without ever removing your skis.
Yet another spring weekend has conspired against me. The weather for Saturday was adequate for spring skiing but hardly the banner blue bird on Sunday. I had plans for Sunday so I endured Saturday instead. It wasn’t horrible. But the cloudy skies never allowed for sunshine to soften the frozen groomer tracks on the lower mountain where groomers scraped the trail down to push snow towards the lift.
I awoke to torrential downpour at my house in central New Hampshire. But I trusted in the weather forecast and started driving north despite the rain. To hell with the rain, I was going to ski Jay once more before it closed even if it meant skiing in the rain.
But I arrived to cloudy skis without a rain drop in sight. The temperature was barely warm enough for short sleeve t-shirt skiing so I skipped the jacket despite the light breeze higher up the mountain. The sun never really came out but it was warm enough.