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Joy, Elation and Release: Why We Skin

Joy, Elation and Release: Why We Skin

By: Dave Hatoff Comments: 0

For me to process things that have happened or are currently happening in my life, I need to be in motion, to match my mind racing through thoughts.  Earn your turns skiing has become that form of release for me, so there is less internal build up that has to come out, and in many ways, I don’t know any other healthy ways to let that out of me.  Some seek looking to friends or family for advice or professional therapy, but I choose human powered activities to help bring it out of me.  There is something about that first 20 minutes of your tour, usually some of the hardest or toughest times of your uphill experience because your body as well as your mind is cold and not sufficiently warmed up yet.  Your fingertips are cold, your muscles ache and your breathing is erratic as you’re just trying to find your rhythm.  Once that first break of sweat appears on your brow and you are breathing hard, everything seems to slow down and you are entirely focusing on the moment and what’s in front of you.   Everything that has happened to you that day is released and forgotten about.  Sometimes there can be anger that is festering inside, and I try to release that anger out on the up-track, whether it means picking up the pace a bit or taking longer strides.

Backcountry touring, or resort skinning is one of the few things that can bring healing, joy, elation release and even defeat.  During the course of your time out in the field, your mind goes through many thoughts and emotions as well as a connection to your natural surroundings.  It’s almost like receiving a surprise natural gift each time I go out- Seeing the trees cloaked and draped in snow makes them take on a human form. Poking your pole to feel the texture of snow to see if its light and dry or crusty and wind effected.  It can be a white-haired rabbit’s tracks in the snow as you crest over a knoll that makes you look just a little closer at the finer details around you a little bit closer as you climb. 

One of things I really like about the climb and especially the descent is that is requires you to be ultra focused, especially in steeper more technical terrain, and 100% present in the moment, that it is a very powerful form of movement and mediation.  There are very few activities that bring me into that type of tunnel vision and focused state, but skiing just seems to rattle it all out of you.  Whether you are having hard times in your personal life or work, you see that desire for an escape.  For many people, it can come through alcohol or drugs or so many other things, but ski touring seems to be for me just an amazing one, and I certainly need it, each and every day.  When I am not happy or can’t seem to focus, I go out for a ski and when I come back, I’m suddenly happy again.  The feeling does not last for long, but for a brief moment, my mind is clear and I feel such a natural buzz flowing though my veins that it feels almost intoxicating.  It’s actually a very addictive feeling that I just want to feel more and more of.  And the only way to get it, is to go skiing. The more I ski, or the longer I stay out for, the longer those feelings seem to last.

And when you are out for a long time and you have used up every ounce of energy that you have, you simply melt in to your car seat at the trail head or collapse in the couch when you finally get home, you know you have reached that point of physical and mental bliss.  All of the oxygen has been cycled through my blood, all of the lactic acid that has built up in my muscles has reached its threshold, and my body just folds.  All I think about is food and drink, and well my couch.

Skiing is where I am the happiest. I feel like I am the best version of myself.  Whether I am skiing alone or with friends, my stokeometer is ready to reach redline. 


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