It’s been a long, long time since I’ve been up to visit my favorite ski mountain. I’m talking about Stratton, VT. Located in Windham County, the icy cold mountains of northern Vermont cannot be beaten. Every year, I go to Ski Barn to rent my board and each year my board size grows, that is until this year. This year the salesman handed me my board, “156 cm.” he said. “The same size as last year?” I questioned. At first I was perplexed and confused and then it came to be, the board was the same size because I was the same size. I was almost done growing. This was a sign Not only was I almost finished growing physically but it was also a sign that I was growing up into a young adult.
A month later, I took that four hour drive up to the mountain with my board. As we reached the final portion of the drive I felt a rush of excitement. Just driving up the mountain with my board got me electrified for what was to come over the course of the week. When we finally arrived that day, I met my friends Jonathan, Grant, and Sam. I knew from then on it was going to be a full week of snowboarding. Chair lift after chair lift, day after day, slope after slope, it was an exciting but tiring trip and we wouldn’t want to do it any other way. Halfway through the third day of snowboarding we decided to go through a glade. A glade is an ungroomed trail through the woods. In order to make your way through the trail you need to weave in and out of trees and bushes.It is very challenging. As we stopped at the glade sign it occurred to me that this was the same glade I was going to do a few years ago, but was too fearful to follow through. The thought of crashing into a tree was too much for my body to handle. This year I felt differently about it. I was a year older and needed to start challenging myself. As I looked at my friends, I could tell we all felt the same way, hesitant. I looked down at my board, the same size as last year and remembered what that symbolized, growing up and part of growing up is conquering your fears.
Whether my friends were going to do it or not I had made up my mind. I was going for it. So I went, swerving my way back and forth between the thick, white spruce trees in my path. After five long exhilarating minutes of boarding from heel to toe I took a break next to a large snowy tree. While still in the glade, I looked back through my wet and fogged Burton goggles to find my three friends slowly making their way down. Soon we had all met up at that same tree and decided to stick together for the rest of the trail. This was because we all knew very well that the end of the glade was the most challenging and difficult. Unfortunately, we had learned this the hard way a few years back when one of our friends broke his femur by crashing into a tree. With that in mind, we kept a slow and cautious pace the rest of the way. After some careful, but thrilling riding we could see the old wooden sign that said “Exit 5 feet”. Legs burning, I looked back up at the glade I had just completed and couldn’t be more proud of myself.
The next day, like the day before it and the day before that, we went snowboarding all day. We ate lunch at the mid-mountain lodge where we got our few minutes of rest and relaxation and then it was right back on the mountain. I finished at my friend's house at 3:20, just ten minutes before the closing of the mountain. Out of breath and exhausted, I laid down and took a nap. That night we went out to diner with everyone's families and then went back to the house to close the night off with a movie. With my legs sore and stiff from another amazing day of boarding, I fell right asleep knowing we still had one more day to hit the slopes, or so I thought.
Our the final day arrived and I had a decision to make. My family and I were planning on leaving at around 12, which would only give a us couple hours of snowboarding. It was between that or helping my mom pack for the car ride back. In the past it would have been a no brainer, go ski with my friends. However, it dawned on me that this year was different. I was now a young mature adult and should do what is right. I had put in 3 full days on the mountain. Did I really need a couple more hours? I decided to skip the slopes and go help my mom with her packing. Even though it was our last day there, I knew that helping my mom was the right thing to do. Don’t get me wrong, helping my mom wasn’t the most exciting choice but it was the right decision for me to make at that time. After folding and packing all my clothes and putting the equipment in the car we were ready to go thanks to my help. Despite having the opportunity to go out and snowboard for a few more hours, helping my mom made me feel much better about myself than any time I could have spent on the mountain.
During the car ride back to New Jersey, it dawned on me that I should act like a young adult all the time, not only sometimes. It felt good to start entering that phase of my life. On the day when my family went back to Ski Barn to return their rentals, I decided to keep my board. I leave it in my garage where I can see it as a constant reminder to me that I am a young adult in this world.