Skiing Uphill and Enjoying the Ride

In life, when you want something, don’t hold back, go get it!

Live your life with intent. Step into your life and live. What does this mean to me? It means stop making excuses, wake up, open your eyes, and go after whatever it is that lights that fire from within. Go after the things in life that make you feel alive and when you find them, hold on to it and never let go. Live your life in a way where each day tops the next. Live a life where there is no ‘those were the good days’ or ‘I will be happy when.’ Live your life now. Do the things you say you want to do, don’t wait for whatever reason you are telling yourself you can’t do it. Turn your ‘I want to do that’ into your ‘I just did that!'

Checking the weather during the winter never used to be something of concern to me. Until this winter when I discovered a whole new element to what I was looking for in that north country forecast. Some seek those big snow days, being powder seeking hounds. For me, my radar was out for those clear winter mornings where I could perfectly time my arrival at the top of the mountain to coincide with the sun rising above the mountain tops. Finding myself lost in a sunrise where the peaks touch the sky became a winter morning ritual. 

Waking up at 4:30 in the morning; my dog still sleeping along with the sun; coffee brewing on the stove as I unpeel my folded-up skins to place them on my ski’s – a task I have become quite accustomed to and secretly crave. There is something about pulling those sticky skins apart and gliding my hand down the smooth, one-way texture, the sensation under my fingertips triggering the joy of what is to come. Whoever knew I would find such pleasure in experiencing the sensation of putting a skin on a ski! What was once a task I knew nothing about became a second nature joy. This all became a standard morning scene in my Adirondack home. Music playing softly in the background as I drink coffee, eat a bagel egg sandwich, while simultaneously putting on my ski gear and slipping into my ski boots. The boots that once felt so foreign and uncomfortable to my feet, now feeling like home. 

I am out the door and heading to the mountain at five o’clock on the dot. When I first began alpine tour skiing I was a total bomb disaster, discombobulated mess of gear trying to get ready in the cold at the bottom of the mountain. I now arrive geared up, skins on, skis and boots in uphill ski mode, head lamp on, poles at the right length and ready to go. With wasting no time, I’m heading up the mountain no later than 5:30 in the morning. It is all these little things I notice as my great accomplishments in my progression with skiing this winter, learning so much in only a few months’ time. 

It all started with the intent to bring an uphill endurance strength integration into my off-season triathlon training. I am a triathlete who trains in the Adirondack mountains year-round, integrating the area I live in into my training.  It was no surprise to me that I was immediately hooked after my first go at it. You see, I’m not your average girl. All I need is my own two legs and the feeling of working hard and the pleasure of doing what it is I love to do. I’m not the girl who searches for satisfaction in life from another or one who feels incomplete being alone. I experience a different type of love every day while out on the mountain peaks and this year I uncovered a type of bliss I had never experienced before from skiing up a mountain chasing after the moon to watch the sunrise. 

I went from not knowing one thing about alpine tour skiing, needing someone to instruct me the whole way up the mountain and down, to setting out on my own knowing exactly what to do every step of the way. I went from not having any gear, I mean literally nothing, not even ski pants, making due with what I had, skinning up the mountain in borrowed gear to four months later owning everything I could possibly need. I now fly up the mountain like I have been doing it my whole life and cruise down like I was born to be a skier. When I find something that makes me feel alive, that makes me feel like “heck yea, this is living!” I always want more and I immediately set goals to get better.  

Learning to uphill ski this winter in the Adirondack Mountains, the place I am so lucky to call my home; a place where seasons change in a blink of an eye; a place where the birds will surprise me with their songs in the dead of winter; a place where I find myself looking out across a landscape feeling as though I am the luckiest person on earth to be seeing the view that lays before me, has been life changing. 

I crave the change in seasons, the feel of the cold, the smell of fall, the energy of spring, the heat of summer. The Adirondack winters, even when you enjoy it, they can do a number on you. I usually at least once during a winter will start to feel a little bit of that cabin fever creeping in, where I’m ready for change and for spring to hit. Not this winter! Instead of typically feeling joy from a sixty-degree thaw in March giving a tease of spring and summer to come, I had this overwhelming contrasting sensation rush through me, the desire for spring combined with not wanting to stop skiing. I wasn’t ready to let go of waking up early to watch the sunrise as I ski up the mountain. It’s a good thing a mid-March thaw means nothing for winter ending in the Adirondacks! 

As I move through life finding those things that make me feel the most alive, it changes my world every time. I grow in ways I never anticipated. It brings me places I never thought I would go. I become something more than I ever imagined being. I find a way to answers from questions long ago. This is the first winter where cabin fever never crept in. This winter I experienced myself — instead of looking to the future towards another season — remaining present with the season I was in. Of course, because I also love biking I am excited for the seasons to shift again, but I guess my point is, for many years I have been working towards finding my way into truly living in the now. I had been close to it before, and this winter learning how to ski, finding a new passion in life, is what unknowingly led me to that place on my path I had been seeking. When living life passionately, fiercely, doing whatever it is the hearts desires, we find the answers to our questions along the way.  

I have become stronger in many ways from skiing this winter. I have had some of the most mesmerizing mornings of my life skiing with the rising sun. It is something that has become a part of me, something that fuels my soul, makes me feel alive, something I crave and something I will now never let go of. 

Winter is now leaving the Adirondacks as fast as the sun will rise. As I reminisce on the season I had I become more aware of just how special each moment out there learning to ski this winter had been for me. I bottle up every winter sunrise, every moment between me, my skis, and the mountain and I store it away in my heart as I bid it good bye until next time.

Visit the Whiteface region to find your own joy in the Adirondack mountains. Start planning by exploring comfortable places to stay, where to eat, and special events.

Author:
Traci Wagner
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