Posted by: davepidgeon | January 5, 2009

The serenity of skiing solo

Cluk clak. Cluk-clak-cluk-clak-cluk-clak.

That was the sound of ski boots on a concrete floor inside Ski Roundtop’s rental room, and you can add that sound to the league of sensations at the beginning of a trip that prompts the goosebumps. Great experiences are ahead. The league incluces the first breath of woodsy air when you exit your car at a trailhead or the rush of ocean waves when you first arrive at the beach. To that, add ski boots on the rental room floor.

Came with friends Friday night to Ski Roundtop in southcentral Pennsylvania. Trails were fast, even a little icy. Slopes were crowded. Loved the little guys, boys and girls hardly 4 years old sliding down the trails on skis or snowboards. Took a few falls at the start, but I finally got things going for a good four-hour session.

I learned something there. While my more ski- and snowboard- savvy friends broke off for diamond trails, leaving me for the easy routes, I discovered how serene skiing by yourself can be for a person. I would ride the lift up to the mountaintop solo, smelling the winter air, quietly watching individual skiers below to discover the proper route for descending the slope without snapping a bone, wishing I had been one of those kids when I was growing up, finding myself thinking maybe someday I’ll have a son or daughter who’ll want to learn how to ski, feeling all the anticipation and apprehension about whether I could make it down in one piece, and embracing it. Then it was time to charge down the slope but at a pace which I felt comfortable (as oppose to trying to keep up with skillful friends). It’s akin to hiking solo – you’re at your own pace thinking only what you want to think about.

I enjoyed, too, the time spent skiing with my friends. But skiing solo can also enhance your experience. With friends, we’d chat on the ski lift, and I would miss the necessary planning for the upcoming run down the mountain or lack an appreciation for the nighttime winter woods. With friends, we’d exit the ski lift at the peak, then usually begin skiing downhill with immediacy. Solo, however, I could linger at the top, gazing at the surrounding nighttime countryside about a thousand feet below, the lights of highways and towns sparkling like the stars above.

I know there are more than one of you who wished they had someone to go skiing or snowboarding with, preferring a group rather than going by yourself. I’d encourage you whenever you can’t find a skiing or snowboarding partner to consider heading to the lodge and slopes by yourself. You can find an experience every bit the measure of going with a crowd.

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