Sunday, March 11, 2012

Taking it from the top

Today my kids skied from the top of Cannon Mountain. It’s something the older two (aged 5) have been ready to do for a while, but for various reasons, we didn’t make it to the summit with them until this morning. And what a magnificent day it was – perfect temps, blue sky, no wind, and soft spring snow.

There is so much to love about skiing. The rush of arcing turns downhill, the tingle of chilled air or sunshine on your skin, the feeling of gliding over packed snow or floating through deep powder. Beyond all that is the indescribably awesome feeling of being in the midst of mountains, surrounded by peaks that sometimes seem tamed by human-made buildings, trails, and lifts – but that can also be wild and unpredictable, and whose beauty is astounding.

Maybe that’s why I love Cannon, or maybe growing up at Cannon has ingrained that big-mountain feeling in my skiing soul. At a summit altitude of 4,080 feet, Cannon is big for New England, but not compared to the Colorado mountains where I lived for five years. Cannon’s placement in Franconia Notch gives it a big mountain feel – and the best scenery of any mountain around.

As I followed my kids down Tramway today, restraining the 3-year-old by her harness tethers, I felt that sense of awe that hits me so often on the mountain, even if I often take my time there for granted. Lafayette sparkled melting-white in the bright sunshine. The high, rocky peaks plunged to the floor of the notch. And my kids skied down 2,180 feet of vertical like they’d been doing it for ages.

They certainly didn’t seem to notice the splendor of the mountains around them, or the significance of their feat. They were just happy to be skiing, planning who got to sit with whom on the next chairlift ride, wondering if we could go ski in the mini glades the next run. That’s how it is when you’re 5 years old, I guess. I remember exploring the stunted trees at the top of Cannon as a kid, cruising around the familiar trails with friends, catching the spring sunshine on my face at the Turkey Roost (which, regrettably, is no longer there).

Kids have a great ability to live in the moment – or at least in the day. Most of us lose that gift as we grow older and the to-do lists seem forever to be floating in the back of our minds. But it is not until we grow up, perhaps, that we realize just how lucky we are to be spending a day in the mountains.

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