Altered Perspective.

Post by blogger | January 22, 2010      

Saturday, 10:14am.

(Editor’s note: Dave has got a travelogue going he agreed to share. Western road trip, skiing, OR show, stuff like that. Enjoy. ‘best, Lou)

I open my eyes. I close them again.

I roll over.


With a sigh I pull myself out of bed and make coffee. Not the best start.

No, it wasn’t a late night. I didn’t go to any bars actually. Drinks? None. I think I slept 11 hours. Headache, no. More like heart ache.

My wife left the house hours ago. All my friends left at a similar time. No one bothered to call me though.


Those dreaded words in the winter…I’m injured. Hurt. I can’t ski.

That pretty much wraps up my early winter so far. I’m currently healing from a non-serious injury, but a slow healing injury. Talked to a friend today how she just tweaked her knee. Another friend broke his ankle. All of us taking it easy, trying to hurry up and wait for our bodies to heal.

You always hate to see a friend injured. You feel for them. “Let me know if you need anything.” But secretly we’re glad it wasn’t us. And then, it is us. You see your ski season flash before your eyes. How long till I’m back? All the things you took for granted days ago are now a golden goose egg.

But hope springs eternal. We heal. Sometimes to 100%, sometimes not. But we’re usually skiing in a week, a month, or at least next year. In that time off we learn to appreciate all the good things about skiing (and life), and see past the trivial. Suddenly it’s about a freedom from skiing even the most benign Blue Square. About taking full advantage of the snow you have, instead of the powder you want. About skinning up anything; just being outside — who cares if it was a knoll more than a peak.

I finally got out again last week. Only a couple groomers at the resort. I smiled the whole drive up. Ear to ear grin as I made conservative turns back to the bottom. Those 300 turns were ecstasy.

I’m still not fully healed, but have a newly appreciated adventure coming up. I’m heading down to the Outdoor Retailer trade show. If I’m lucky a morning tour in the Wasatch will not send me home limping again. Then through Colorado to show a friend my recent stomping grounds. And finally to visit my new nephew, Aiden, in Denver.

I have permission from my sister to take the new dad (her husband) out skiing for a day. The snow sounds bad, though the snow falling out my window right now may cure that. But it’s not about the snow now. It’s the adventure, and the friends, new views, fresh air. I’m excited to simply be leaving the office. Yeah, I’d be happy if I were going without skis. But the skis will make it better.

I’ve seen a lot of negative energy in the skiing community this winter. Everyone getting all worked up about “secret stashes” being discovered by everyone else. About skiing being ruined by this or that. Getting mad about it.


What is it? Is it the fact that we live in the mountains and get to ski on a regular basis, if only every weekend. We are angry that the snow is slightly less than perfect? Does that rule out being outdoors? Are friendships invalidated by these hardships? Is skiing no longer fun?

I’m looking forward to skiing with a bunch of over played, over hyped locales in the next week. I’m looking forward to the people I get to ski with. I’m looking forward just to make a few turns on snow.

Packing the bags for OR and beyond. Testing the Mystery Ranch duffel and Intuition liners above. Also excited to use my new resort/backcountry travel ski with Marker Barons.

Packing the bags for OR and beyond. Testing the Mystery Ranch duffel and Intuition liners above. Also excited to use my new resort/backcountry travel ski with Marker Barons.

(Guest blogger profile: Dave Downing and his wife Jessica live in Whitefish, MT, where he is a freelance designer and owner of Ovid Nine Graphics Lab. Dave has been told that there is nothing to see in Montana, so please move along.)


Please Enjoy A Few Suggested WildSnow Posts


6 Responses to “Altered Perspective.”

  1. Aaron Chance January 22nd, 2010 12:22 pm

    Thanks for altered perspective Dave! I am in a similar boat, having recently sprained my knee and over stretched my ever tight hamstrings. Nothing like a bunch of days of limited mobility and wondering how long its gonna last to make me really appreciate what we tend to take for granted: shredding every possible moment we can.

  2. Sam Reese January 22nd, 2010 12:45 pm

    I ski the northern Sierra a bunch, Tahoe area in particular, as my choice in profession basically shackles me to the SF bay area, and I see a lot of the attitude. There are good attitudes, like people wanting to safely share the backcountry, and there are bad attitudes, then there are dangerous attitudes.

    human-powered skiing has exploded here. I started 3 years ago, and I can see that last year and this year have considerably more people than before. There’s regularly trouble finding parking at trailheads. I think this is mostly great. I haven’t seen to much of an increase in trash… It seems a lot of the people exploring the backcountry are either the same kind of people who climb in summer, or people ducking the ropes for a thrill. And honestly, I haven’t had too much trouble with the latter category…

    We all like some degree of solitude in our backcountry or outdoor adventures, but I think it comes to just how much is needed. I, for example, don’t like climbing trad in The Valley, because invariably, there will be a slow 3 person party ahead of me, and some anxious experts breathing up my drawers from below. Yet up in Touloumne, We’ll see climbers. We’ll talk to other parties on the approaches (and as long as I don’t climb routes in the supertopo book), we diverge at the base, and don’t see anyone else until half-way down the descent. Sure, if you look about, the faces are speckled with climbers, but there’s no one above or below me, and that’s enough for me.

    I take this to skiing. That’s exactly how much space I need. Not to have anyone but my partner breathing down my (admittedly slow) neck, and not to have to wait in line to drop in. I understand that some people want the whole mountain to themselves, but tough cookie… I do worry that eventually, I’ll be eating that hard biscuit as well, I guess I’ll just have to tour out further then.

  3. Mike January 22nd, 2010 4:36 pm

    Thanks Dave for putting on paper some of my thoughts. I live in a ski town. Last February, I busted up my tibia (plafond fracture). Big surgery, four months off it, six months till I could get it out of a brace. I’m back skiing and skinning a few hours at a time, staying out (mostly ) of our super low snowpack woods (EC). But every time out is special. Even just an hour loop at lunch time.

  4. harpo January 22nd, 2010 9:58 pm

    Dave, glad you are healing.

    Sam, I live in Tahoe and ski here alot too. Yes, the popular trailheads are crowded, but go a bit further out and the trailheads are deserted. In South Lake Tahoe last week, I drove over Luther Pass (trailhead to Waterhouse peak) at 7am last week and there were already 20 cars parked. We drove 20 minutes futher out before getting out of the car, and didn’t see anybody all day, although we crossed a few tracks. Yes, the skinning/turning ratio wasn’t as good as Waterhouse, and it wasn’t all wind protected tree skiing, but it was worth the extra effort to be alone.

    That is within 45 minutes of South Lake Tahoe. If you are willing to drive 1 hour 45 mintues, the eastern Sierra start at Bridgeport and extend for 200? miles to the south. Stay away from Mammoth and Bishop, and you probably won’t see another car at the trailhead. Choose the longer approach or different drainage, and you can get 5-7000 foot one lap days and not see anyone.

    Yes the recent popularity of human powered glisse can crowd the most popular trailheads, but I am not complaining.

  5. Omr January 23rd, 2010 12:48 pm

    Good stuff Dave. Being an overhyped local, slc is about avaerage on the attitde meter. Ironically, smaller communities seem to amplyfy that mindset by concetrating similar personalities. On the weirdness meter (politics, religion) slc is off the charts.

    That said, crowded trailheads are a choice, not a requirement. I can ski untracked Wasatch powder anytime. Just takes a little more work and a willingness to explore.

  6. dave January 23rd, 2010 1:40 pm

    Glad you guys like the post and that my excitement for snow to come came through in the writing. I’m testing my ankle out this weekend with the SLC crowd and psyched that my down time was healing, and my ankle is feeling stronger every day!

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