Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A Few Bites Off Track

Late last week my head got stuck in the snow and stayed there. I can honestly say, with the exception to having a number of co-workers at Mad River Glen seriously into sailing, all thoughts have been on getting fresh tracks in the 5 feet of snow blanketing Stark Mountain in Vermont.

There is something special about fluffy snow. It does not matter how cold or tired one is, making a fresh line through the stuff is addicting! It's fun. It's an experience which embraces all thoughts and for a few moments, the rest of the world dissolves away. Worries saved for another day.

I'd been playing with a pair of "fat" skis which opened up areas of the mountain I would normally stay clear off. Marked trails became a thing of the past and exploring the woods tested me in new ways. One run in particular was way off track, extremely deep and way steeper than I've ever tackled in my life.

I'd normally be pretty scared, actually terrified but there was something unleashed and instead of tears there was a steady giggle with each wild jump, turn, swoosh and the all expected face plants in 5 feet of snow. Escaping each mildly reminded me of being stuck in the "sewer" unraveling a massively entangled kite from a not so clean douse. However, that never made me laugh like a school girl.

Coming out of a massive wipe-out after just nearly missing about 10 through a narrow tree lined chute evokes an inner excitement I've never had while sailing. I'm not sure I've ever laughed, giggled, snorted or hopped about like a little kid who has to use the bathroom after a good down-wind run with the kite. There have been many awesome days on the water sailing. There are days I've held my breathe in anticipation while riding the edge of a wipe-out, but pretty sure there was no giggling at the time.

So what's the difference, besides the obvious? One can not really compare skiing and sailing, though, almost every sailor I know either skis or rides. Is there something missing in their world of sailing that playing in the snow fills? This has been consuming my thoughts during the daily commute back and forth from the mountain. I've NOT been having this much fun in the last few years chasing after sailing opportunities.

I've also never pushed the snowy envelope as I have this season. Ah. Maybe that is it? Maybe I need to take sailing to new levels. Maybe a return to the Volvo Ocean Race in April will reinvigorate the passion for wind and water. Maybe just getting back on the water will help. The eXtreme 40s will be in town and those suckers exhilarate!

Maybe the ambition to nibble on sailing needs a fresh perspective because chasing after the news stories and technical scoop does nothing to excite lengthy prose about sailing. Even the Volvo Ocean Race has left me uninspired. Love the lifestyle, but these past few weeks, where a weather report of snow is enough to get one out of bed at an ungodly hour to drive through blizzard conditions to wait in a 40 minute line for a fresh powder fix has introduced an aspect of living not frequently felt in sailing.

It does exists and maybe deeper exploration into the worlds of windsurfing and kite boarding will help. To be in position when Mother Nature calls, going without reservations and to give her your all, till you can't stop laughing from all the endorphins flooding the brain! A little dose of that is good for the mind, body and soul.


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