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There wasn't supposed to be ice here..

November 20, 2013 The Wine Time Dad 0 Comments Category : , , , ,

This is not what I had in mind..

There I was, standing at the precipice looking down at the near vertical drop. The down slope almost created a perpendicular line with my board, and the trees stuck out like massive poles jammed into the ice. Yet, I was hesitating. I had been standing there so long that anxiety sweat had started to prick my forehead... I was thinking that the terrain ahead might be ice or it might be slushy. Ice would be bad. Even hard crusty snow would be better than ice. Slush would be the ideal of the three possibilities because at least you can carve through that. There definitely wouldn't be any powder- the mountain hadn't seen a fresh dump in weeks.

So, maybe it'll be slush.

Yeah, fuck it. My id had temporarily taken over, convincing me that nothing untoward would happen on my way down. Mother nature, too, would at least give me this.

With my heart beating for no reason (because I'd done slopes like this more than a couple hundred times), I dropped in and scraped down about 100 ft or so before realizing that I wasn't hitting the slush I had expected to hit. Wtf? Maybe it was further down from the entry point. Whatever. I'll just do some hard turns on the ice and work my way down. I needed a legitimate leg burner after standing at the apex, arguing on the phone for the better part of an hour with my very pregnant fiancĂ©. Yeah, I know. What a dick.. You should never argue with a pregnant woman because no matter how far ahead you think you're starting in the argument, you're still in the wrong place (and you always will/ should be). Onward young adventurer! When I started doing turns, I realized I was picking up speed really fast and not able to slow down because of the ice. So, I made my way this way and that. Stopping at random trees to scout the way forward but I just couldn't point my board forward and go for it..

And, there was still no slush. What gives? This side of the mountain had been in the sun all day so it should've softened up by now, but my slush was nowhere to be found. Worse yet, the white was so uniform that I couldn't see any of the grooves in the ice. The whole slope was just one big piece of packed ice.

Maybe I should've checked the temperature, or asked someone before heading down. But, I didn't do either of those. Nor did I follow my intuition about this run because of the overriding need to hit it no matter what. Yet, there was no good reason for being here but my mind was now clouded over with frustration haze. Being disappointed with most of my runs so far, I had pushed myself to go down this run- if only to regain some sense of the freedom boarding usually gives me.

Determined not to give up but feeling my confidence fizzle, I angled myself towards a large tree and caught it. I took my goggles off and jammed them in my pocket as they were fogged up and useless. Unzipping my jacked to cool off, I looked back up towards the entry point, which was now several hundred feet up slope. I thought about my options and realized that taking my boots off and hiking back up was absolutely not an option. Not because it couldn't be done (it really couldn't) but because I was an experienced snowboarder and... What the hell?! I never would've considered that a year ago.

I began thinking..

What the hell is wrong with me? Not only would've DC Daddy from a year ago been able to calmly get out of this situation but he probably never would've been here in the first place. That snow slob would never have wasted time on iced out expert runs- he would've found some back country to play in. But this DC Daddy... The soon to be an actual daddy, who hasn't boarded all season and spends all day hanging around the apartment because he's too nervous to test the waters in DC, wasn't thinking straight. He wasn't used to the fast talking, loud, obnoxious, and rude Americans around the mean streets of the urban US capital. He looks for reasons not to go out because too frequently he gets a panic attack from being overwhelmed in an American City. The guy, who once he was on the mountain, his home, all the sudden became too timid to enjoy the new territory.. What had happened to the old me?

I'll tell you what happened to him- he wasn't there anymore. Or, he was patiently watching from a distance. Either way, I was only on this slope because I was frustrated and pent up from the last several months of insecurities and doubts. By seeking a challenge, I had sent the experienced thrill-seeker DC Daddy away for the company of just thrill-seeker Daddy. Well, I put myself here and I'm going to get off this slope, like a pro, and then proceed directly to the bar. Besides, I didn't want my unborn daughter to grow up without a father because he stupidly got himself killed on a routine boarding expedition. I will simply bite the bullet and leaf down this hill.

I let go of the tree and began the slow process of leafing.

Until I hit a patch of ice and my board slip out from under me.

Hey... No problem. I dug my heels in to stand up and... Whoops! Too much momentum. Now, I'm tumbling forward. 

I started gaining speed and soon I was nearly out of control. When I tumbled so that I was facing forward, I noticed the copse of trees that was much further down the slope, was rapidly approaching. No problem, I thought to myself,  I haven't started to panic yet, so I'm good. I just need to avoid those trees. Several meters before I hit one of the trees I managed to flatten myself out so that I was on my butt and was able to use my board to maneuver around the tree. I slid for about another hundred or more feet before I slowed down and hit slush. It was softer and more forgiving than the ice. It was all the slush I had expected to be covering the whole slope. How convenient that it had been scraped off and was politely waiting for me where the gradient was less vertical. I could see that it only wanted for me to finish out my ride in style.

But before I moved on...

I sat there for a moment thinking about the tree I had nearly hit. I realized that it wasn't DC Daddy the snowboarder who had put himself in that position, it had been DC Daddy the soon to be stay-at-home-dad. It had been Daddy who was living in an unfamiliar city with no friends and no go to places. DC was a different animal than the mountains of Japan. People weren't as friendly or as eager to shoot the shit. Most of the people you did run into were usually only superficially interested in you. I realized that while I felt it necessary to live up to the challenge of finding a way in a new city and being a good father, I hadn't accepted where I was and what I needed to do. I was there, for sure, but my mind wasn't. I was hesitating and it was clouding my vision.

Well, I'm not one to dwell too long on the negatives... Especially self-perceived/ imposed negatives. I also don't like the "poor little old me" feeling- yikes! Those anxiety sweat beads were starting to form again... I guess it was time to go.

As I was sitting there zipping up my coat, my goggles slid down next to me and stopped right outside the pocket I had originally put them in. My hat was still attached to them. My gloves slid down just off to the right of me. I didn't even remember taking them off (that either pieces of my gear came down to meet me should tell of the quality of snow and the steepness of the gradient). In any case, it seemed like the cosmos were still shining down on me, after all. I would've been really upset surviving all this only to lose my goggles I won on whim back in Japan.

I popped up and shook the wobbly wobbles from my legs and slid off in style. I even managed to hit some nice slush-covered boulders and mounds, catching air at speed, and worked the last vestiges of angst jitters out of my system.

No, it may not have been snowboarder Daddy who put me on that slope but it sure as shit was snowboarder Daddy who boarded off that slope and straight into the bar.

He also chatted up some locals who were kind enough to show him where the the goods actually were. I recall that the rest of the day was more light-hearted and fun. I threw in some tunes and hit the jump park after some backcountry.

Yeah, it was good day..

Until Company Flow hit my ears and I took a bit of a fall on the other side of a table top... I guess I got a little too loose at the bar.

Thanks snowboarder DC.

You can't win 'em all..