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Diary of a Ski Patrolman: Week 14

Diary of a Ski Patrolman: Week 14
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We need to just take more time to look back over our shoulders. Whether you’re on a chairlift or falling asleep with your head on the kitchen table, you can find something worth a moment of awe. If you’re on your table, maybe it’s the month old yogurt turning blue, which is pretty crazy. Unless it’s blueberry — then it’s okay.

But happiness. Yeah, it’s there for all of us, in different places, but most of all it is within our hearts and our capacity to feel and admire our surroundings. We just need to allow it to thrive on the good days, and the not so good days. And I need to work on that. On the next rainy day I want to smile at the sky, and remember it will be sunny soon enough.

Okay, so I’m sort of over the whole philosophy thing, for now. Last night I read about the Singularity, which is the hypothesized point in time, about 30 years from now, where computers will become far more intelligent than humans. So I figure such computers can finish philosophy, instead of me. So I’m going to talk about doing what computers can’t do very well — skiing through the woods.

Skiing through trees [okay, not through but around], is a heck of a lot of fun. It’s kind of scary, too, depending on how far apart the trees are spaced, and what sort of incline the trail possesses. If it’s really steep, rocky, and the trees are so tightly packed that every turn you feel a stab of fear, you’re in the right place. At least, if you love tree skiing as much as me, and many of our other patrollers. You won’t find these trails easily. They’re sneaky, hidden, and dark. They’re dangerous. You don’t want to go on them…unless you do.

Tree skiing is exhilarating. Every tree is an obstacle that you can gracefully avoid, using your skill and anticipation. Or each tree can also smack your goggles, or sting your face, or even worse. The only way to get better at tree skiing is to do it, and to constantly push yourself to take more difficult trails. It’s okay to start with widely spaced trees, and slowly advance to the tighter stuff.

Always keep your eyes down the trail, or down the line you intend to ski in the trees. This will allow you to anticipate where your skis need to go in the next few seconds, and it will enable you to avoid running into hard objects. It’s also simultaneously important to look down, sometimes, to see if you’re about to run over a rock, or fall off a cliff. But most of the time you can see those things before you reach them. Hopefully.

Skiing the trees is like doing moguls, but with trees. Yeah, I know that’s a really helpful description. But it’s true. If you’ve never been in the glades, try it out — start easy, and see how it feels. Don’t be afraid to slow down, or stop. I slow down often when in there because I like to see where I’m going. Some people charge through the trees a bit too fast, and inevitably end up with a dent in their helmet. I like my helmet, and I don’t enjoy dents, so I tone it down.

Tree skiing gives you something that can be constantly challenging, on any mountain. You can select the difficultly of the run, unlike other terrain that may, over time, feel a bit stale. So give it a shot, with a helmet on, and you’ll soon be on your way to quicker turns, and quicker thinking.

Some pretty interesting people have come stumbling, sliding, and slipping into the patrol hut over the past few days. Earlier in the week we posted a few signs advertising Okemo’s need for new patrollers next year, which quickly attracted some attention. After all, if you’re having a fantastic day skiing, and you are then greeted by the possibility that you could do it as a job, you might as well check out what it’s all about!

One man came into the hut and immediately asked, “So, what are the requirements for being a patroller here?” I replied with a simple answer, “You have to be awesome.” It doesn’t get more straightforward than that, right? And I do believe all of our patrollers are awesome, so therefore it is true, too. But what does awesome imply, you ask? A few things…

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