As I predicted, our Whistler Winter Wonderland turned out to be just that: full of wonder. It was the single most beautiful weather I have ever seen in my dozen trips north, and I don’t think a day passed when I didn’t say, “No, SERIOUSLY look at this WEATHER,” to whomever was standing next to me.
It was crystal-blue skies every single day, and there were mounds and mounds of snow covering every inch of the mountains, trees and village. Each night as we walked from the condo to the village, it was like walking into a Christmas card. The stars were more brilliant than seemed possible, and the lights from the town were as luminous as a chorus of candles.
None of this entered my mind, however, at about 3PM on New Years Eve. Laura, Mike and I had spent a glorious day skiing, and all of a sudden, I was done. Not just “I’m a little cold, let’s head back,” but “If I don’t get off this mountain in the next five minutes HEADS WILL ROLL,” kind of done.
There is no logical explanation for this. Despite not being a very good skier (blue routes always, never black diamonds), I almost always enjoy myself. I love the views, the activity, the adrenaline. What I do not love is realizing that I am exhausted and I still have 45 minutes of skiing to get me home.
That’s the thing about Whister/Blackcomb. The mountains are so enormous that even if you decide you are done for the day, you still have to get from the top to the bottom, which is no small feat. It’s not like at Crystal or Steven’s Pass, where one minute you’re at the peak and the next minute you’re drinking hot chocolate.
The real tragedy in my exhaustion is that Mike was just hitting his stride. He was snowboarding faster and more skillfully than he had been all day, so my constant breaks and whining nearly caused him to shove me into the first gondola that passed, saying, “Please, take her with you.”
As I watched him move deftly down the slopes, it occurred to me that most of us ski on a bell curve. The day starts out shoddily; you’re out of practice, a little fearful, and moving slowly. Then you warm up and gain confidence, and the curve moves upward. The peak of the curve happens when you are flying down the hill, completely ecstatic, vowing that you will do this every weekend for the entire winter. A few hours later, the curve descends sharply as you realize you are extremely tired, freezing your hands off, and you vow never to participate in this masochistic sport again.
There is nothing wrong with the bell curve, as long as you accept it as fact. As soon as you accept it, then all you have to do is be sure to finish your day just after the peak but before the curve dives into the depths. This was my problem.
Laura could not have been more accommodating.
“Babe, this is totally normal. When you’re done, you’re DONE. I have been there.”
But she wasn’t there in that moment, which only made me feel worse. And Mike was Pollyanna on vacation, so I officially felt like Demon Debbie Downer.
Did recognizing that I was the jerk of the group cause me to snap out of it? No! It only enraged me more.
Thus, legs trembling from the effort, I made each little turn down each little hill with the resentment of a woman scorned. I mentally scrolled through all of the sources of my anger: I hated my freezing fingers, I hated Whistler for existing, I hated myself for not being a better skier, I hated whoever invented the idea of putting sticks on their feet to get down a mountain, I hated my friends for daring to enjoy themselves, and I especially hated the fact that I was sweating from the effort.
And even though some tiny logical part of my brain was screaming, “Get a grip, lady!” the rest of my brain couldn’t hear it due to all the other voices hollering the hate.
The reason there is a tiny uplift in the bell curve after the base of the plunge is because the moment I was off the slopes, I was the happiest woman in the world. Not only did I not die while skiing, but I no longer hate anything or anybody!
Luckily I had Mike around throughout the remainder of the day to remind me of my miserable attitude. But did I care? Not really — I was done skiing! And hindsight is always a deceiver; it wasn’t long before I was saying aloud, “Maybe we should go again tomorrow. I mean, that was great, right?”