High Lands


  Daughter and I took lifts to the top of the ski area where we boarded a snow cat which took us up the ridge to a point where it narrowed and steepened.  We got off.

  After the drop off we began the hike up the ridge as it narrowed to a knife edge.  A sign read: “Hazards of back country skiing include death”.  Though wife and I had made this hike and ski descent before and though it is a far sight from the leading edge of this day’s temerity,  I had been sleepless the night before.

  To voluntarily enter a challenging environment with one of one’s progeny can only hope to be a healthy endeavor if accompanied by some degree of expertise, experience, and humility. And voluntary participation.  Kids are all adults now…

  Hiking in ski boots is not natural.  Hiking up a steep trail – actually only a succession of small slots kicked in the ice and frozen snow – focuses one’s attention.  Drop your skis and you’d never seen them again.  Slip, well, you get the picture.  The wind was blowing so fiercely that the contrails from my runny nose froze solid on the left lens of my shades. 

   We reached the top.  Rested a bit and considered best route of descent.  Couldn’t  see over the corniced ridge so to be safe skied down the shoulder a bit and then dropped in.  It was steep and cruddy.  Had to be athletic and assertive.  Perfect for #3.  She knew she’d be back to drop in from point zero.

   From the bottom of the bowl a short trip down a tortured trail to a cat walk and the lift took us to the summit lodge, her mother/my wife  (the real skier) and lunch.

  It is not hard to imagine how humans began to slide down frozen inclines and even began to perfect the activity.  Just watch kids in winter upon the most modest of slopes.  Thinking of kids, hundreds of years ago in Norway a child prince was spirited away from danger upon skis for some fifty kilometers.   Name of biggest cross country ski race in the states – Birkebiener – came therefrom.

  What is difficult for me to understand is how our evolution equipped us to seek, survive, and thrive in the steep cold environment.  Well maybe I can understand the seek part.   Without a thirst for adventure in at least part of the population we’d all still be starring into Olduvai Gorge.

  But the kinesthetic part I don’t get.  Such prowess must be an epiphenomenon related to swinging through a forest canopy.  Now to think of it, that does sound like fun.

  Clearly the huge ski industry is built upon a very wide range of athleticism.  Weighted toward the heavy end.  The fact that couch potatoes enjoy it is interesting.  The fact that a few seek out the steep quick and cold is fascinating. 

  Whatever.  The conviviality on top is a fine reward.  Humans are weird and I’m glad to be one.


2 Responses to “High Lands”

  1. Andrew Says:

    how far we’ve come since the cradle of humanity (Olduvai Gorge). If evolution is accepted for the sake of argument, then logically it would seem that evolution would eliminate humans desire for adventure. Hope im not around then.

  2. abby Says:

    hi dad…..this piece you wrote it so cool! It is weird to think about some of those things!

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