I realized a few weeks ago that I have been skiing on or around my Birthday since I turned 18! My 18th birthday skiing adventure was certainly a right of passage of sorts and I guess I am feeling some nostalgia as I enter into my 40th Birthday Week.
This pilgrimage involved a then boyfriend, now husband and oldest dearest friend. Three kids, my parents SUV and dark icy roads at 5AM out of the Chicago suburbs and into Wisconsin to Cascade Mountain. As I write this, it occurs to me that was the first time I skied with my husband! It was freezing, as Midwestern winters tend to be. We didn’t wear helmets and were far too cool to wear hats, but I really rocked the high pony tail and ear-band. I probably had on a sweatshirt and tee shirt on under my ski jacket. I expect my skis were too long and my boots the wrong size. And, odds are, I had really crumby gloves and my hands were numb. In spite of the sub-zero temps and sub-par gear, we had a blast. The freedom of 3 newly minted “adults” on a road trip…I still get that giddy feeling when we ski.
The next memorable birthday trip I have was the following year…my 19th. My husband and I were 2nd semester Freshmen at the University of Colorado (me) and Colorado State (him) – we are a house divided one day a year during football season. He got us $20 lift tickets to Vail…are you re-reading that sentence? Yep, $20. You can pick your jaw up off the floor now and read on! It was Superbowl Sunday (used to be one of the quietest days to ski) and, to boot, the Broncos were had made it that year. It was like we had the entire place to ourselves. Incredible snow and bluebird skies. I haven’t skied Vail since and I’m not sure that day could ever be topped! We still talk about it (sorry if you’ve heard this one before).
After that, we took a string of trips with our friends every winter when we lived in DC anywhere from Utah to Colorado. Skiing is best served cold and shared with friends, as are most things in life. All the laughs, all the powder, all the land-locked sushi dinners (for real, still some of the best sushi we’ve had has been in small resort towns).
As I head to 40, I don’t feel much too different than I did on that inaugural 18th Birthday Ski Celebration. But, life has shown me some things along the way. I have always relished in the feelings of freedom and joy making my way down the hill. Now, I soak it in that much more. I appreciate what Mother Nature has to offer and how much effort is put into getting a mountain skiable for the season.
With a family in tow most of the time, I crave the connection and togetherness we find there. The gifts the sport gives us – lessons in resilience, overcoming challenges, increasing our strength, overcoming fears, confidence, building new skills, quiet, nature, connection, shared joy.
Every time you go it’s an experience, an adventure and an opportunity to see something new and to find joy. And, that’s just what I’m going to do this Friday when I head up the hill to relish in my birthday turns. What are some of your birthday traditions or even your annual ski traditions that hit you in the feels and keep you coming back for more?