Monday, August 8 2022 - 8:22 AM
skier going downhill
Photo by Dreamstime

Skiing Saddleback

Icy terror clutched my stomach as I looked down the sheer mountainside beneath my skis. “I can’t do this, Danny. I’m hiking out.”

My boyfriend, a ski virtuoso, shook his head at my alarm. “You’ve got this, Lindsey. Just believe!”

Danny’s family had invited us along for the last run of the day: an “easy run” called Saddleback. They really meant a cliffside-disguised-as-a-run.

I had frozen in fear while the rest of his family disappeared down the hill. Now my fear had made up its mind, and I stubbornly hiked to the top of the hill. I started towards an easier run, but as I looked down the gentler slope, I realized I really wanted to conquer Saddleback.

Danny caught up as I stalled in indecision. “I’m going to regret it if I don’t go down Saddleback,” I said.

He read the emotions on my face. “I’ll stick with you whatever you do.”

We returned to Saddleback just as ski patrol skied up.

The ski patrolman hollered, “I’ll stay behind you since you’re the last ones on the run!”

Gathering Courage

A scary hill AND company to watch. My lucky day. Now I had to get down this hill. Hiking out was not an option. I pointed my skis downhill and gulped. The hill just disappeared. The bottom of the mountain fell out of sight. I knew what to do. I needed to pizza turn, with my skis in a V, and ski all the way to the other side of the run. But could I do it?

I trembled but pushed off… and traveled across to the other side. I stopped, catching my breath. My next turn would be to the left—often my downfall, literally. I scrubbed my gloved hands along my helmet, trying to ease the pounding in my head.

“You can do this!” The ski patrolman encouraged me from above.

I nodded, embarrassed, wishing the snow would swallow me.

Before I could think twice, I took the left turn. Shaky but upright, my body screamed in panic as I began picking up a lot of speed.

“See, you can do it!” Danny yelled.

“No, I can’t!” I yelled back. I’m going to rocket myself right off the mountainside!

Crash Landings

Without thinking, I took a crash landing to break my speed. The solid ground felt so wonderful beneath me, but I knew I couldn’t stay there for long—the sun was setting. I wobbled to my feet. Thus continued my journey downhill: turn, crash, get up, repeat. At one point, I shook so badly at the start of a left turn that I knew I’d be in for it. Rather than take the turn, I plopped down in the snow and rotated my skis to face the correct way.

The ski patrolman commented to Danny, “You know, I’ve lost a couple of girlfriends doing this.”

I know why, I thought, even as we laughed.

I zig-zagged my way across the mountain unsteadily, my thoughts my only solace. First, I veggie-cursed the mountain for being so horribly steep. Then I mentally berated Danny for being so infuriatingly patient. He kept telling me to believe in myself. I wanted to stuff a sock down his throat.

I crashed yet again and just sat there, breathing like a racehorse. And I was beginning to think that the best way down would be on a stretcher, and I didn’t care if that was dramatic. Tears started to slide down my face. I wanted to push Danny down the hill, but I settled for a glare. “I should never have let you guys talk me into doing this,” I told him.

He pointed down. “You’re almost there.”

Almost There

The bottom of the mountain sprawled before me. Relieved, I collected myself and stood. A few more shaky turns and all my frustration evaporated. I’d made it down Saddleback—on my own two skis!

I found myself smiling, looking back up the ski hill I had just conquered. From my new position, it didn’t look as scary. How easy it would have been to ski an easier run and leave Saddleback for another day. Instead, I felt charged with confidence in myself for overcoming my fear.

My experience also reminded me that there are lots of hills in life. We can’t always see down them or see if they are the best route, and sometimes we freeze up at the top. But I am confident that God knows what lies ahead. Because He sees so much farther ahead of us, we have nothing to fear.

If you liked this, you might also like Before You Crash 

Lindsey Crumley writes from the Pacific Northwest.

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About Lindsey Crumley

Lindsey Crumley

writes from the Pacific Northwest.

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