The Adventures of Keri Melich and Carol the Carolla

I've never been so beat up by the mountains. I am forever thankful to the handful of people who helped me get home today.  

My day started in a whim. The lifts at Mount Hood were supposed to be closed today but as I was checking the weather reports I saw tickets available. I force myself to wake up and head to Hood. Apparently the roads were pretty bad the last few days but I made it to the lodge without any troubles or tire chains. 

The parking lot looks full but it's splotchy. Cars parked wherever they fit, not much sense to it. No one guiding or guarding the lot. I just take the first spot I see and head straight for the lifts. There's more cars than there are people here, it seems. No lines. Fresh snow. By this time, I am so glad I made it outside. 

I ride the bunny slope a few times, remembering and teaching myself a few new tricks. But then it's time to go to the top of the mountain. The lift is headed straight up. It seems like it could go forever. Every five feet raised was a harder smack in the face by the ever increasing snow storm. As I find my way back down I look for the easy trails. Lots of soft falls on fresh snow. I've never seen snow like this before, much less ever snowboard through it. I stop every once in a while to let my legs rest. I need to adjust my new gear. Then I find myself at the top of a half pipe of snow. Many trails of successful jumps, many foot prints of people looking to avoid it. I slide down the first half and now I'm stuck at the bottom. I can't go up, the snow is too fresh. Every step I take sinks me another few feet into the mountain. If I go down, I hit another steep cliff that falls into rocks and river. My only option is the trees. I take each step five times as I pack the snow beneath my feet. I felt stranded. The river cuts me off to the trails on my right, trees and makeshift jumps surround me to the left. The snow is pouring from the sky like an never ending snow globe. Who keeps shaking my snow globe? I sit to relax for five minutes and count the inches of snow building up on my legs. One, two, three. I'll be buried in it if I stay here. I walk into the trees along the river until finally after what felt like miles but had to really only be feet, there's an opening. I walk along the trail to make sure it doesn't end or leave me stranded at another freestyle jump. I'm clear. I get my board on, head over the hill and immediately, "CAUTION, CAUTION, CAUTION." Signs are popped up along the side of the mountain. The field is open. There is no obstacles in my way. And then I sink into the snow, and there it is. I can't get up. The snow is much too soft. I'm relieved to be out of my first mess but now I'm in another. I can see the last lift I took. That means I'm almost at the bottom of the mountain. I can almost go home. I'm pretty well beaten by this point but glad none the less that I made it out alive and on my own. 

The snow here is fresh but it's packed. I can manage this. I can get myself home. I dry off and clean up and hop in Carol the Carolla and we head home only to turn the corner and drive straight into a snow wall. I pumped the breaks but each time I could feel the car start to gain traction then slide the opposite direction. Things could be worse: I could have hit the metal barrier, I could have driven off that cliff, it could be raining, I could be doing this in the dark, Carol might have been more hurt, maybe she wouldn't turn on. Things could be worse but I'm still stuck and I can't get home. 

The first snarky Canadian stops to tell me he can't help and that its my fault. Thanks guy for reiterating how much this sucks for me. He drives away biting into his apple in the warmth of his car. Then came a new face, an employee from the top on his was to grab some drinks. I couldn't be more happy to see this stranger. He tried to tow Carol out, he helped me dig her out of the snow, he called for extra help from public safety, he even helped me put my tire chains on when I became utterly useless in a state of panic. I can't even remember his name but I hope this guy has the best Christmas ever and if I see him again I will drop everything to help him like he did for me. 

So I'm driving home at 20 miles per hour with chains on in the middle of a snow storm as car after car pile up behind me angry that I'm not even driving the speed limit. I eventually get to a spot where I can take the chains off but the hook is stuck on my tire, and I just can't even. My gloves are soaked and my hands are icicles but I get in my car and drive another foot, turn the tires and break this puzzle until I am free. The hours are adding up. I could have been home by now. Eventually snow turns to rain and I relax a little but still all I want to do I crawl into my bed and sleep for a year. 

if you've ever had a really bad day like this you'll know that it's easy to let yourself associate bad experiences with the place you experience them. There were so many ways to have avoided all of this though: preparedness. I know my limits because of the bad experiences I've had, but you'll never know how far you can go if you don't push yourself. You'll never appreciate the great experiences if you don't have the bad ones too. So what that I got stuck at the top of the mountain, or that I crashed into a wall of snow. Things could be worse and in true Wake-end appreciation, I will never forget the few who spent their time helping me get out of a rut and I will gladly return the favor to someone else who might be stuck someday.

 

When I was about 12, I almost died at the beach. I was supposed to be learning how to surf but the tide was so strong that we postponed it to just hang out at the beach. I was barely wading on the shore when before I knew it, the tide pulled me all the way in. I was tossed with the waves for probably about ten minutes. Some guy who's name I never learned saved me. He wasn't a life guard and he disappeared as quickly as he came. I avoided the beach for a few years after this experience and when I returned, I had an appreciation for the ocean that I had never known before. I won't let myself stay so far from the mountain just because of how terrible today felt. These things on earth are so beautiful but they are destructive. And the very fact that it can break me in seconds terrifies me, but it's a risk worth taking. But it becomes even more beautiful when you realize how small and fragile you are, and how steady it is. 

Keri Melich7Comment