Today I ski.
As the heat form the fire boils the water to make tea and the sun enters the camper exacerbating my ambition, I am filled with an overwhelming sense of content. I drive to a trail head, meet a skier whom tells me where to go and I strap on the brand new boots on my fresh legs. The season begins, and it feels so good to know that it will only get better from here. The sun warms the snow and the seemingly endless jeep road finally reveals itself to a run with many ski tracks made in fresh powder. I race up the slope and find myself completely unable to catch my breath, like someone hit me between the upper ribs and all I want to do is take a deep satisfying breath of oxygen but to no avail.
“Stop Chase” I tell myself and it helps for a moment but the weakness of my lungs my legs my arms, feet and hands only returns once I start again. The feeling reminds me of a time in Oregon on the Ocean surfing with a friend; we only had one surf board so we took turns, while one of us surfed the other played in the waves to keep moving and not get cold. I had the unfortunate timing of not having the board when a nasty rip tide decided to pull me out to the open ocean and push me under with its mysterious power. There’s only been one time in my life that I’ve actively yelled for help and this was it. That feeling of swallowing saline water and not being able to catch your breath is what I liken altitude to. What is not helping my cardiovascular is the four days i spent in the City much lower than here in elevation with my now refereed to as “girlfriend” drinking boku amounts of tequila and eating like king and queen. I will be the first to admit that my afore mentioned content or euphoria for life is likely partly brought on by staying in the Hilton for 4 nights with a girl I haven’t seen in months, how long that will last is something for time to tell but I will ride it past the pain in my lungs and ski this mountain all day.
Later this afternoon I take a drive to the neighboring city which has many bigger stores for clothing, food, auto parts etc, and as I’m pulling out of the department store I am stopped by a Porsche, pulled right in front of the camper a man gets out and makes acquaintances with me, I know him from passing in the Gym and he asks me if I am living in the van? I reply yes and he promptly says “not when it’s 40 bellow!” I inform him that I have a wood stove and am capable of keeping it quite cozy, he says that just incase it doesn’t stay warm enough when you can’t pee outside without it freezing before it hits the ground that I am more than welcome to stay in his guest room and that it’s at the base of the resort. I am flattered by the generosity of a person I would least expect to come up to a dirty kid living in a truck and offer a warm clean place to stay with his family. I am once again taken back, this time to 2008, the time when hiked the Pacific Crest Trail.
At barely eighteen years old I left my Moms for good and went to the Mexican Border to start the trip that I would hold more dear to my life than any other experience.
Despite the heat in the desert and the blisters from wet hiking boots and the endless snow of the High Sierras and the Mosquitos in Oregon and the near frost bite from premature snow in Washington and not to mention the amazing scenery, wildlife, people and fires, I remember one thing the most and that is the people that would take me into there home usually from hitchhiking to a town for resupplys, this scruffy hiker that probably hasn’t showered in a week and has been living off freeze dried food for months is someone you want to provide dinner and a warm shower to? And let him do laundry in your home! These people/families have a name when hiking “Trail Angels” and in my experience they live up entirely to there title.
Jim (from the gym) whom I’d just met in the parking lot was making his way to becoming a trail angel and although he’s not picking up a hitchhiker and I’m not hiking 2,600 miles it still puts a smile on my face knowing that some people really do care about others even if they come second to a new Porsche Cayenne.