Every ski season* has an ending and a beginning with purgatory in between. And much like the mountains, our seasons have peaks and valleys, highs and lows. Those who want for consistency and regularity in their lives need not apply. Skiing is an activity better suited to those who enjoy extremes, people who can not only accept but revel in and embrace the worst of conditions**.
Beginnings are powerful. More than just a do over or a redo, beginnings suggest that something even better is coming. We sweep away the hardships of the past and get on with things. And even following a season of many epic days, skiers are still ever hopeful that this season might be the big one.
Dad once commented on my tendency towards extremes. He saw the potential danger rather than the beauty in extremes. But for me, even in the depths of despair, I would suddenly cackle with delight at how wonderful if felt to be alive, to be able to feel, even if to feel terrible. It was still joyous in a way. Amor fati was a way of life for me long before I read Nietzsche.
While a new ski season began for me this weekend, I continue on in purgatory: long having sought a new beginning that remains elusive. There are no highs nor lows, just a constant grind. One might think that burn out would make someone negative. But rather, burn out leaves you hollow and uninspired. The ski season may have begun but I still seek a new beginning.
*Ski season here is connoted as a localized season rather than an individual’s personal season.
**Not a reflection or implication of the skiing at Sunday River, far from it.
Whenever I hear or see the word “hope”, I mentally preface it with the word “false”. Just like whenever I hear the word “believe” I mentally preface it with the word “make”. These two words are generally useless and occasionally dangerous.
Hope could be defined as the emotional state of desiring a positive or beneficial future (at least for the person doing the hoping — one person’s hope could be another person’s despair). It could also be defined as wishful thinking. Hope unfulfilled can become false hope which causes negative mental and emotional states.
You try despite risk of failure; hope doesn’t effect the outcome (unless hope substitutes for action in which the outcome is forfeit). You might ask why would you take action towards something you were not hopeful of achieving? My response would be why does it matter? Hope is a useless state at best and a damaging state at worst.
Exploration and novel experiences are critical aspects of the TSW philosophy. We all have untapped passions removed from our grasp only by lack of experience. Imagine a current passion removed from your life if you hadn’t had that first engaging experience. And now imagine what other potential passion is currently untapped. For shame. You can’t imagine it because you haven’t yet experienced it.
Even within our existing passions we often leave potential doors shut through intentional avoidance or passive omission. So I am proposing TheSnowWay.com Challenge: ski three “new to you” ski areas this coming season. A bucket full of bonus points if you make personal sacrifices or travel great distances to make it happen. Still more bonus points if you can link them all into one epic trip. Ultimate bonus points if you grab a friend and double the novelty through shared experience.
Being a fan of “lesser known areas that rock”, I am going to propose a few such lists. Magic, Burke, and Saddleback combine to form a triangle of the best lesser known ski areas in their respective states. I’ve also combined what I consider to be the three best lesser known areas by state for Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. Or make up your own list. Go nuts. Go for five new areas. Go for one. Just go for something novel. Your favorite area might just be one that you have never skied.
- Magic, Burke, & Saddleback for NNE
- Ragged, Balsams, & Black for NH
- Magic, Burke, & Middlebury for VT
- Black, Abram, & Saddleback for ME
- Make up your own challenge list
My list? Sutton, Orford, and Owl’s Head: an Eastern Township Trifecta. One long weekend, three new areas. Not necessarily in the “lesser known areas that rock” category for Quebec but certainly in that category for those of us stateside.
So get out there and try something new. Experience something different and foreign. Put yourself into an uncomfortable and vulnerable state. Open yourself to the novel and push your boundaries. Be it skiing or otherwise. Especially otherwise. But start with skiing if nothing else. Nothing is worse than stagnation.
Recent posts on TheSnowWay.com have been developing a motif. That our limited existence is best utilized in an active rather than a passive role. Far too many people passively wish away their lives. Vicariously living through someone else’s reality via their television screens. There is always an excuse defensively proposed as a reason.
It does not matter what we go after as long as something ignites our passion. Everyday we are given the option of choosing how we want to self define. It can be an active or passive process. Our first choice (and some people’s only choice) is that decision: active or passive. Sometimes chosen by lack of having chosen, a choice all the same.
Sounds strange coming from someone that has accepted Determinism as fact and whose life is guided by Haphazard Circumstance. Haphazard Circumstance merely fills in the details. The path is set by intention. And determined or not, I still choose regardless of whether that choice is determined or not. Perhaps I am determined not to idly imagine a life that could have been had I only tried.
Actively choosing to choose is the most important thing we can do in our lives. We choose when to ski and when not to (and often when not to by default, by not choosing to choose). We choose where to ski. Whether we will sacrifice to ski and how much (or not at all, actively or passively). Whether to relocate due to skiing or not. There is no right choice, but active choosing is always right and should always be followed with no regrets.
This web site started out as nothing more than a collection of trip reports. My ego page began primarily to catalog skiing experiences for personal reference. A secondary goal was that by sharing my own reports, I might then learn about conditions from the reports of others. As the internet began to expand and develop, a growing community of skiers would hopefully share this vision of reporting actual conditions online instead of relying upon ski area reports.
But that was not enough. I desired professionalism and a slick web site with extensive cataloging and tagging to better sort and search through my reports for reference. Simply reporting on my skiing experiences was not enough. My investment into the activity had grown. Skiing had become an essential aspect of my life. A life that took a hard right when I decided skiing was more important than anything else. It became a way in life.
TheSnowWay.com was born. Combining the non-religious philosophical learnings of Taoism with the stuff that makes skiing possible, the naming was deeply personal rather than analytically based on maximizing Google search result positioning or attracting new readers. The tag line was a dare, an invitation, a challenge. A statement of consequence, preference, and personal significance. And sometimes… a reminder. What is your way in life?
Skiing was no longer just about the turns. It was fully integrated into the fabric of my being. But posts on this web site continued to be mostly trip reports about conditions. Descriptive words and pretty pictures. And just like most trip reports, lacking in deeper personal meaning. Occasionally a particular day struck a chord and stream of consciousness took over the writing effort with illusions to something profound and personal. But generally the reports have been a steady blow-by-blow detailing read-between-the-lines powder quests.
Recent posts might suggest a certain change in tone or direction. That this site is becoming less trip report and more weblog. That I will be inserting myself more fully and sharing my view on the world in a take it or leave it fashion. This will be less about the trip report and more about what I personally found valuable about the outing. What inspires me. How I see the world and how I prefer to live my life.
This site is about my way in life. I hope you continue to find it valuable for the trip reports and pretty pictures. Perhaps you might also find it valuable for other reasons as well. I hope the reading is less passive and more engaging. Less static information, more dynamic reflection. Less about what happened, more about why it is important.