It was the day I almost broke all the bones in my body.
Making a note to myself, I decided to never plummet down an icy slope like a comet heading down to earth. Especially when that slope is a tantalizing mountain that goes straight down at a perfect 180 degree angle. Most people may say I am exaggerating, although if there was not a helmet secured on my head, remembering anything might not have been possible.
The thought of dying is terrifying. People have had accidents that ended their life abruptly. It was my own fault, when you listen to music, you can get lost in the moment and blend into surroundings. In my case, “hit me baby one more time” was not the song to jam when ice rocks come flying and knock you off your feet. Literally.
Ski club is a time where people can chat with their friends and try tricks on ginormous jumps and attempt to land perfectly on gravelly snow. If you’re feeling chilly, the ski lodge is a wondrous place to sip hot chocolate and snack on expensive dinners and cuisines that probably aren’t worth their ridiculous prices. Not only are there difficult trails, but there are also easy bunny hills that you can ski down effortlessly.
The bus arrived at Gunstock, but I personally excited to finally attempt tiger. Tiger is a pathway that goes straight down and with one wrong move, you could be in serious danger. That didn’t phase me, instead it made me more intrigued in this challenge to withstand the doom that we call a double black diamond. It is one of the hardest inclines to master if you aren’t skilled.
After leaving school, grades sixth through eighth trudged heavy skiing bags to a coach bus which promptly left after teachers and chaperones counted all the students. On the bus, it was like any other day where everyone spoke about what they were going to do over the weekend. There were jokes and games played on the two hour drive to the ski resort. Once we got off the bus, students filed off to the side to grab their skiing totes. Everyone headed to the ski lodge which was soaked with melting snow that turned into sludge under our feet. We got changed into the proper attire: gloves, a helmet with goggles attached, snow pants, long fuzzy socks, a protective winter coat, and skiing boots, but having hand warmers is always a smart thought.
The ski lodge is normally full of tables stacked with gear and equipment, but around 6:00 they are mostly cleared off and replaced with nachos, grilled cheese, churros, icees, and cheeseburgers. The warmth of the cabin, hits you right as you enter through the double doors and if you are still wearing your goggles, they can get fogged up. Winter nights especially are freezing and walking into a warm lodge is one of the best feelings. To the right is a line of people ordering from a cafeteria of all types of food and along the wall are comfy booths. Upon arrival, chaperones hand out passes so that you can go on chair lifts that lead you to the top of the mountain. Then, you are free to go and hang out and have a great time.
I had been skiing for 4 years at the time. I wasn’t the best skier, but had enough knowledge and skill to land tough jumps and control myself on ice. Normally my friend Kathleen skied with me during the afternoon and evening, but once we ate our usual dinners of chicken fingers and fries, we separated. Instead, my friends Camm and Sam invited me to ski with them. We decided to check out one of the scarier mountain trails which was more like a death defying drop at an 180 degree angle. I hadn’t been listening much to the boy’s conversation because music was blaring through my earbuds which were tucked into my helmet. If I had listened, maybe we would not have gone on a terrifying drop.
Up the chair lift, the wind rippled through my layers of jackets. That night it was especially chilly and there was more ice rather than snow itself. A bunch of snow fell from a tree that had been waving in the wind. A chill ran down my spine, bringing me back to reality. Cold ice began to melt under the cuff of my collar. That was only a slight experience of what I would be feeling that night. We began to talk some more and before we knew it, we were on the top of the mountain. Wow, it was really high! Part of me was nervous, the other part excited and ready to take on the slope. Camm and Sam were grinning from ear to ear, their voices echoing. Lights were spread around in the woods to give off some light and the puffs of smoke from the lodge were far below, its once tall height was miniscule. Trees surrounded us with their lush leaves and falling pinecones. The breeze was beginning to pick up causing tufts of clumped slow to mist around our feet. Taking in the view one last time Sam went first and Camm then followed. I gripped my poles before leaning forward and taking on that incline.
My breath hitched as ice flew around me and I was moving at the speed of light.
They kept going straight down and I followed. The trail led into another one and they kept on going down the mountain without stopping to check if anyone was behind them. My legs were steady even under the bumpy chunks of ice that occasionally popped like popcorn. I was ecstatic that I was still standing miraculously, but my speed was picking up, but soon realized that I was not going to be able to stop. Sam was far ahead from Camm and I, but in the middle of the transition between Tiger and the next trail there was a hiccup from under my skis. Nothing was stopping me besides the fact that my skis had crossed over one another.
It happened so fast that I barely noticed it until one of my skis unlocked from my boot and skidded out from under my weight. Shrill screams flooded my ears, but instantly I recognized them as my own, but could barely hear over the thuds of my body colliding with ice. My grip on my pole was lost and black clouded my vision and couldn’t hear anything besides a ringing noise.
It was a hiccup in time.
It was only a sliver of a moment.
It was so fast that when reality came back, it hit me hard.
The shock I was having was unexplainable because it all happened so suddenly. I never had the time to grasp what was going on. It didn’t matter at the moment, but at least that reassured me that I was still alive. The taste of snow filled my mouth. When did that get there? Dirt mixed with snow was the only thing I could taste. My eyes were still shut, my legs not moving, but instead lying awry. My arm was resting across my chest, and I felt like Frankenstein strapped to the testing table. Standing up was not an option. Camm’s voice filled my ears, his rushed speaking making no sense. He attempted to pull me up and instantly an excruciating pain ached in my neck. It was the feeling of pins and needles jabbing into skin.
Another skier had gone to grab my forgotten ski and pole. My pole was much more broken than I was. Its normally straight position was now slanted in an unnatural angle. I couldn’t respond or see where they were, but they kept asking if everything was alright regardless. My goggles were fogged up and snowy, but once the ice was wiped away, I noticed that I had fallen off the side of the mountain. I must’ve lost control and skidded off the cliff. Delightful.
I got the help needed and was assisted down the rest of the mountain carefully. When I wasn’t rushing down at speeds of 50 miles per second, this second trail was simple. Camm left Sam to go skiing more while he brought me back to the lodge. He told me that he was sure I was going to break more than a pole and he was surprised to see that no bruises or scratches were visible. I scared him and he would not have noticed that I fell if he wasn’t able to hear my screams from behind.
When we arrived at the lodge, our friends were interested to hear about what Camm encountered and what I witnessed. Being a victim to a terrifying slip that could have nearly cost me a lot more than just a bent pole. I realize I was lucky when I look back onto what occurred that night. Replaying the accident through my mind, I can still remember the crash and clash of body against snow. It gives me shivers to think about what happened, but unless you are there it is hard to explain the scene itself. How would anyone react if they caught a glimpse of a girl doing flips down a plunging drop that cascaded forward with no stabilizers. I believe someone was watching over me on that frightful night.