Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Skiing! Ah, what a wonderful sport indeed! I made my first attempt at downhill skiing this past weekend at Cataloochee Ski Area in Maggie Valley, North Carolina. I say "attempt" because I believe that most aptly describes what I accomplished: some four hours of skiing in a "training area" (also known as "Wolf Creek Hollow"), followed by a descent of a "beginner" slope. After some five or six tries, I had the hang of the rope tow at the training area, so I spent the morning repeating this over and over and over and over. Finally, breaking for lunch, I had a chance to rest and take stock of my accomplishments, which I deemed were very limited.

After lunch, we attempted the beginner slope, known as "Easy Way", and on its lower elevations, "Rabbit Hill". Ha! Two major misnomers. Easy Way looked great from down on the ground, but not so good from above. After some four or five zigzag paths down the hill, much of which was spent sitting on the ground, I finally took my skis off at the bottom and walked the last thirty feet, a feeling of disgust and sadness overcoming me. But not to be daunted, I took a short break, then once again stepped into the cruel straits of fiberglass for yet another try at the training area.

Throughout this whole ordeal, Karen had been trying to teach me something -- anything. Many times, I plunged the poles into the ground and tried in vain to raise myself up again to a standing position. On occasion, I could actually get myself up and ponder what to do next. Oh, the anguish!

But then after it was all done, I headed to the lodge bar and had (in fairly rapid succession) two Jack Daniels and Cokes. After that, the ski area seemed to mellow a bit -- the whole idea no longer had the feel of doom that it had possessed earlier in the day but now appeared to be a fulfilling, relaxing activity. Yes, I thought, I might do this again.

And now, as I gaze at the wallpaper I have downloaded from the Snowmass web site, I realize that I have been pulled into a strangely addictive endeavor, one which is not without risk, but which holds out the promise of making one look pretty good while turning from side to side, swooshing down a mountain. Of course, for me, that might be a while!