Column, Living the Dream

First turns on North Ridge!

By Merisa Sherman

Taking a deep breath, I open the car door and swing my feet out of the car. I grab the emergency handle and pull myself out. It’s been a few days of this and already I can feel which muscles have been lingering all summer long and I wonder how people must feel when they only do this an average of five times a year. That’s crazy to me.

I walk around to the back of the car and pop the trunk, revealing an organized chaos of bags and gear. Quickly, I throw on my jacket because the temp is always at least 7 degrees colder and the wind is 10 mph faster than at our house in the Flats. I love early season snuggles in my puffy jacket, letting my body gradually adjust to winter in the North Ridge. Not worth it being cold when I want to be celebrating!

The zippers on my boot bag are less than cooperative, a result of me frantically shoving them into the bag earlier that morning. But finally they break free and I grab the first boot with my left hand while I work all the buckles open with my right. I drop the boot onto the snow, untie my snow boots and get into that one leg stance that’s trending on TikTok right now. I’ve already got my ski socks on because we came directly from the house, otherwise, I’d be fumbling with my longjohns and those kneehigh socks in the wind of the parking lot and that, frankly, sucks.

I grab both loops on the liner and I’m pulling and pushing, flexing and extending my ankle in a manner that doubles as a warm up exercise as I try to shove my foot into this damn boot. It’s a 105 flex and it’s not even really cold out, so this should go on easy but ski boots never do anything easy. Finally, I feel my heel drop into that beautiful pocket and the pressure is relieved from my ankle bone that always sticks out. I can breathe.

The buckles start at the bottom, working my way up through the four, but just tight enough to make it to the gondola looking like a skier but with less pain. I crank that power strap down hard, because I hate pulling my powder cuff up that high twice in one day. I don’t like the cuff covering my upper buckles, so they are always available to adjust, especially early season when my calves haven’t quite yet molded to the torture chamber that is most ski boots.

Both boots on, I carefully switch my sunglasses for my goggles, diligently wiping each with the goggle bag. I check the goggle lens first, hold them against my face and looking all around. I laugh — I’ve still got my sunny lenses in from June and I cannot see a thing in this early season light. I switch to my low lights immediately; by 3 p.m. you are skiing by memory rather than sight.

Of course, it’s only after I have my goggles secured on my hat that I remember that I wanted to wear a thick neckie in this wind. So now I’m strangling my head while I try to pull the neckie on without scratching my goggles. I mean, I could have taken the goggles off but they were already on. Once things are on, they cannot come off. Then you forget them and bad things happen.

Finally free of the struggle, I grab my mittens and head to the side of the car. I locate the key, with its long red tie in hopes that I will always remember to “lock the box.” No one wants to be the person driving down Killington Road with the rooftop box open and hardgoods flailing about for all to see. I awkwardly reach in, blindly feeling for anything. After only getting one pole, I stand precariously on the car and work on emptying the gear from the box.

Gingerly, I place the skis and poles on the side of the car, hoping it is not windy enough that they’ll slide to the ground and leave an evil rainbow down the rear fender. I don’t have one of those fancy protective gadgets — yet. I pull on my mittens, adjust my cuffs so they go over exactly how I want them. Everything prepped, I swing my skis up onto my left shoulder and hold my bamboo poles in my right hand.

Spinning on my plastic heel, I take a deep breath and look up at the mountain. A big grin grows on my face and everything is right with the world. I am me again.
Now, If only the BF would hurry up and get ready, we could go skiing!!

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