Learning to ski is one of the most challenging things I have done in my adult life. Pursuing a career as an outdoor education instructor meant finding a job for the winter. In New England, the logical choice was to work at a ski resort, so off I went to Smuggler’s Notch to waitress. It was cold; much colder than I had experienced growing up in Pennsylvania. To “survive” the winter, I needed to get into the sport.
There’s nothing quite like being terrified on the bunny slopes, willing yourself to point your tips down the hill – not across it – while small children whiz by making it look easy. Lucky for me, my kind and patient friend was with me every step of the way. Each day out with Heather consisted of her taking me to the top of trail, me saying “I can’t do this” and her saying “well, there is no other option”. It was just the right amount of tough love I needed. I will never forget when I graduated to the upper mountain and faced my first Blue Run. When I reached the bottom, I went inside to the restaurant and everyone cheered. Although that was over ten years ago and I have fallen in love with the sport, I think of those days often, especially when I get nervous on a run.
I spent the last four winters skiing (and living) out west. Getting back into east coast skiing was an adjustment. It took some time to remember how to ski on the ice and I am definitely still adjusting to the colder temperatures. My favorite part of skiing back east is taking in all the views of my favorite mountains that I can’t wait to hike again in the summer. There is nothing like being at Loon and skiing down Walking Boss with Mt. Washington and the Franconia Ridge line dominating the landscape and enjoying the same view on the chairlift ride to South Peak.
This winter I skied at Gunstock for the first time and fell in love with the views of Lake Winnipesaukee. They also have some great tree and mogul skiing. I also had the opportunity to take my niece and nephew there for their first ever ski day and they loved it! Getting up to Smuggs and skiing my favorite trails and reminiscing with friends about all our winters living there has also been a highlight. Whether I’m skiing on powder, hard pack, or mashed potato snow, it is always refreshing to get outside and it helps me beat those winter blues.
If you don’t ski or ride, I strongly recommend getting out there and taking a lesson. There are so many mountains to choose from in New England and there is one for everyone. Or, try cross country skiing or snowshoeing. Bundle up and get out there – it really does boost your mood! Although I’m always dreaming of hiking season, here’s hoping for another storm and a good March ski season!