As The Snow Melts Away

I went and rode the chairlift at Eaglecrest this afternoon. Just two rides, just two runs. I was feeling unsettled and didn’t feel like staying, but I appreciated the time on the lift, as I always do.

There is water pouring off the mountain right now. It warmed up by 25 degrees over the last two weeks and creeks and waterfalls are emerging. The snow seems to be disappearing from the ground up. There are dark blue stains underneath many stretches of snow—stains where water is running down the slope beneath what remains of the snowpack.

There is a waterfall off to the left when you’re riding up the Hooter lift. I had no idea it was even there. I suppose it’s frozen most of the time that I’m up there, or else that there’s no liquid water to cascade over it.

It feels early for Eaglecrest to be closing up. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen many of these rocks and trees and bushes that are sticking up through the snow. Normally the mountain is closed before they emerge. But this year we had such limited snow fall that there’s not much forgiveness once the warming happens.

I appreciate the mountain so much. I’ve ridden those lifts hundreds upon hundreds upon hundreds of times in the 30+ years since I learned to ski up there. The lift ride centers me. I look at the familiar mountains that surround the ski area and I feel like I’m being held gentle hands. I recall one time, when I was about 15 years old, being up on the Ridge with my friend Jack. It was so beautiful that day—spring, like it is now, but in a different, snow-abundant way. The sun was out, we were hiking, still growing in our hearts and minds and bodies. I remember standing at the edge of a cliff and thinking that if I were to go over it and disappear, it would all be alright, because everything was just perfect. I needed nothing more.

Adolescence is a confusing time. It shocks me to remember the peace and equanimity I felt that day—I’m guessing it was unusual to feel so calm and comfortable in those tumultuous years. But I find those sentiments difficult to find and to hold in my adult years, too. I do recapture them quite easily when holding Auggie or laughing at ridiculous gags with him.

But I appreciate Eaglecrest for giving me a chance to ride those lifts and breathe quietly for the 7-minute stretch, over and over, through all these years of my life.