March 31, 2017: Losing My Way

Today my husband is closing out his ski season; looking to get the last breaths out of winter as seasons officially transition. So different from years past, I have only skied once this year. Today I am in Nebraska. Garrett is in Jackson Hole. Not my year for fun in the white fluff. At least not mountain style.

My Colorado ski trips started long before meeting my Colorado husband. With three young sons, a decision was made in 2006 to try a family ski trip. I randomly chose Copper Mountain in Colorado and booked a week around President's Day weekend. Complete novices to this sport, we took our first road trip to the Rocky Mountains.

It was an adventure starting with ski schools and learning the basics. None of us had touched a ski or board before. We were taught the differences between blue, green, and black runs. On our third day, we were all out of 'school' and ready to tackle the slopes together. Thinking we knew what we were doing, the five of us (led by two parents who should have known better) ended up on a black run.

We took the wrong way up, so now we faced taking the only way down.

It was late in the day and with no blues or green runs nearby, we tackled the mountain. It was very difficult and scary for our flatlander family, but we did it. Slowly and with some coaching and coaxing, we got each other and the kids down the mountain. I will never forget the great fear I had at the top of the mammoth mountain looking down, but even more so, the incredible feeling of exhilaration when we made it to the bottom and looked up at the mountain we conquered.

We found our way.
Taken after our first family (accidental) black run

Enjoying our time in the mountains, we continued this annual family trip for the next two years. Family and friends would join us. The condos got bigger and we expanded our snow adventures.

The next year we decided to try out snowmobiling. At the end of our ski week, a group of ten of us drove up to the Continental Divide to see spectacular sites via these snow machines.

Known as 'safety-first Sandy', I carefully read the warnings on the wall of the garage that was equipped with our snowmobile gear. There were drawings of the snow machines, noting the distance from top to bottom and front to back. With these dimensions, there were also stern warnings that these machines easily tip over.

Driver beware.

Now I was nervous. Grant was little. Seven years old. The boys were not allowed to drive their own snowmobiles per posted rules. I quickly made it clear that I was the safest driver and little Grant was with me.

It was not a clear day and the snow was blowing in blizzard-like conditions. And I kept thinking about the warnings posted about the machine I was sitting on. So I drove slow. Very slow. Slow enough that our assigned lead stopped our entourage twice because I wasn't keeping up. After the second time, he had a proposition.

"Ma'am, why don't I take your little guy with me then you don't have to worry. Would that help you put on the gas a little more?"

"Yes," I told him as I handed over my precious cargo while repeating in my head that I could go faster. I would not flip my snowmobile. In retrospect, given my speed, this was likely impossible anyway (which would have been a great thing for the safety poster to point out).

I gained a little momentum and was keeping up. The sun was breaking out of the clouds and the wind died down. I was enjoying myself. This was fun, not scary, were the thoughts going through my head. Feeling as free as a pig-tailed ten-year-old comfortable on my banana seat bike, I followed the entourage.

Or so I thought.

Taking in all of my surroundings while zooming around the paths created in the wilderness, I was thrilled to be keeping up with the pack with increasing speed. I was holding no one back.

And then we stopped.

Surely this wasn't due to me. We were having fun.

As the lead driver walked back to me with helmet in hand, I was completely confused. This wasn't the same man who lifted Grant from behind me. And then I looked around for Grant. Not a child in this entourage. And not a person that I recognized. Hearing screams from afar and seeing people waving to me in the distance, I knew those were my people.

"Ummm," said the new lead, "you're with the wrong group."

I somehow lost my way. At some point in time, I left my group and started following a bunch of strangers. Although this is still a running joke with the kids, the time mom followed the wrong group on the snowmobile and didn't have a clue, I only remember the joy of the ride. Ignorance was bliss in this case.

My ski trips have continued without missing a year. But the makeup of my family has changed. Never in a million years would I have believed in 2006 that future ski trips would be with a husband from Denver. But life goes on and this is where my story goes.

This year, on my one and only ski trip, I found myself losing my way again. Garrett's friend joined us for this outing. Both being expert skiers, I would often take the easier runs while they took on more challenging routes. When going our separate ways, we would always discuss our next meeting point.

Taking in my surroundings and the beauty of the wintery mountain, I somehow took a wrong turn. At a point in time, this was obvious to me as the territory I entered was full of fresh snow and no traffic. Different from the one I had taken the last time and was instructed to take again.

Coming off my new path, Garrett was both puzzled and worried when I didn't come down the planned run.

"What happened, Sandy? Where did you go?"

I lost my way. But once again, it wasn't so bad. It was actually very nice to shake it up a bit.

As I pondered the beauty and enjoyment of my mistaken ways, I thought how to best answer Garrett. Did I really lose my way or did I just stumble on an alternative route?

"I took the scenic route. By mistake. But it got me to the same spot and was a gorgeous run!"

<Garrett smiles and shakes his head>

There is always more than one way down a mountain. And regardless of how scary or unexpected, going off the beaten path is not necessarily a bad thing. Life's little twists and turns add spice to life.


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