My favorite posts on social media involve friends sharing their passions, particularly those of an artistic, outdoorsy, athletic, or adventurous nature. Kindred spirits exploring and engaging both the world around us and ourselves, each of us doing so in our own special way. None of us able to adequately describe what drives us. But the drive needs no explanation because we share it.
Ten years ago, I crossed the line from dedicated to obsessed. I moved three hours north into the mountains and began skiing from the first few inches of snow until the last snow patch melted in Tuckerman Ravine. End of season turns in June or July became an annual tradition. Excepting when I was injured.
I’ve since grouped all of my season ending adventures into the Because Series. But this year’s entry does not contain skiing content, it is only an announcement of the new categorization. My season ended in April as the result of a broken toe, an injury that would last long into the summer.
I’ll be back in the ravine next year. I’ll ascribe it to whatever particular reason resonates with me at the time. But the real reason is more intricate and nuanced. It comes from that mysterious quality of being human, that inner voice that drives us or doesn’t.
I am not so naive as to believe it is mine to control. I may be conscious of it but I am still just along for this ride, a determined observer. All of the Becauses are just illusions to be embraced.
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.
I’ve skied Tuckerman Ravine in June and July many times. Sometimes because it was there. And other times because it was still there. But this year, I didn’t do it just because it was there. I did it because I Love It.
For three out of four runs, I was the only person in Tuckerman Ravine. I had one of New England’s finest natural areas all to myself. I was the only person in the eastern United States that was skiing. The only one. My own paradise for my own turns, experiencing something that no other person was experiencing at that moment.
While hiking back up for my third run, I overheard a descending hiker mention that “you only see snow in July so many times in your life.” That is true for hikers and die hard skiers alike. Having now skied in July four times, I almost started to think of it as a regular occurrence. Something to be expected as normal and just another part of my season. Which it is. But that comment in passing reminded me that no ski day should be taken for granted, especially a July ski day.