Thursday, March 1, 2012

Strange Fish

We were hoping to tour the back country on Sunday, but the conditions were very dangerous. The avalanche risk was high.  The sheer amount of snow was dazzling.
We talked about going north instead of northeast, staying in trees, seeking out the moderate terrain. I felt ill at ease just thinking about it, without any comprehensible information except the glaring pink signs warning skiers to stay in bounds and my own morbid imagination. I do not know enough about avalanche terrain to make to my own decisions. Thankfully, I've chosen my friends wisely. They are very smart, very cautious. Eager to stay alive.
And in the end, we stayed in bounds.
We had a good day on the lifts. Safe, deep, cold and fast. We skied till the last chair.
Later that night, on the drive home, I was scrolling through Andrew's music looking for a song called Wagon Wheel. "We all know the words," I said, "so let's sing along." And it was that very moment, when my finger hit the song and it was just about to play, that we glided back into cell phone reception, and with the black night all around us in the car, the sky overhead clear and full of hard, bright stars, we heard the news of the massive avalanche that had killed three skiers in the back country at Stevens earlier that day.

Too sad now, and surreal, to play that song about running from the cold up in New England. In silence we tried to find more information on stubbornly slow phones that blinked in and out of reception.

I felt as if I was at the aquarium, watching strange fish swimming through their dark tank, palms pressed against the glass. Inches away from this weird, unrecognizable world, yet so completely removed.

That's what it was like to be in the car, breathing, watching the road through the windshield. In my head the sound of snow breaking over and over, wind roaring, the feel of a mountainside suddenly liquid and moving beneath my feet. I had to force my eyes open, sit up straight in the passenger seat. Not us, I said to myself. Not us.

1 comment:

Tracy said...

So glad you were cautious - keep that up and stay safe!