Every winter, I rent a cabin in Tahoe with a group of friends so that I can spend all of my weekends snowboarding.
And when I say “all of my weekends,” I mean that quite literally. I’m a shameless hedonist who doesn’t really believe in sacrifice, so if you’re getting married or having a birthday, chances are if the celebration falls on a Friday or Saturday anytime during December, January, February, March, or April, I’m going to miss it.
Same goes for Sundays from September - January. (Between my selfish snowboarding, dedication to the NFL, and shoe-free homes phobia, it’s shocking I still make it onto anyone’s guest list.)
This December, I didn’t attend a single holiday party. I also missed two birthday parties and my office’s karaoke party. And for what? A few runs a day on crappy man-made snow.
Because, I don’t know what the weather’s been like where you are, but Tahoe hasn’t gotten snow since September. Which means the resorts have to make snow at night in an attempt to cover up the rocky terrain that I was snowboarding on in July. (The poor polar bears. Won’t anyone think of THEM?)
Because both of my brothers bailed on Christmas this year, I did actually stay in San Francisco last weekend so that I could hang out with my mom. (See? I’m not totally selfish!)
However, as soon as the holiday was over, I hopped in my car and headed for the mountains. Campfriend and I grabbed our snowboards and headed out, telling each other that even though the conditions were terrible, it was better to do a few runs than nothing.
But then we stood at the top of the mountain. And looked down at the icy snow. And the rocks taunting us, hiding right below the surface, just waiting to destroy our boards. And we realized that even one more run would be foolish and dangerous.
Because if you fall on this stuff, or if someone else loses control and runs into you, it would be like slamming your body into -- no, it would BE slamming your body into: a sheet of ice.
After last year’s broken back, I’m not taking any chances.
SO NOW WHAT?
We’re up here for an entire week and as much as I like getting drunk and playing card games, I’m well aware of the dangers of cabin fever. One minute you’re hot tubbing and laughing, the next, you’ve finished an entire tin of peanut brittle, you’re screaming at each other about politics, someone’s pouting because he got “skipped” twice in a row during Phase 10, and you all end up hungover on the couch watching a “Real Housewives” marathon while not speaking. (Events may or may not be based on actual circumstances.)
So instead of THAT (or, fine: in addition to), Campfriend and I found a hike. A good six-mile, 1,000 vertical feet in less than two miles, hike.
And because I require all of my hikes to end with reward, we found one called “Five Lakes.” That’s right: not just ONE alpine lake: FIVE alpine lakes. I’m so spoiled.
And as we climbed the steep trail, I realized that, if not for the lack of snow, I might have gone my entire life without seeing the sweeping views and exposed granite. I might never have experienced the calm of a cold, overcast afternoon spent mostly in silence with Campfriend close by.
I never would have sat on that log, snow beneath our feet, sharing the most delicious turkey, bacon, cheddar, cucumber, tomato sandwich ever consumed by mankind.
And I certainly wouldn’t have had the shock of getting to the top of the trail and finding that the lake was frozen. That’s right, people. Despite all signs pointing to exactly that, in my head, the lake was going to be a clear blue with ripping waves.
Frozen was SO MUCH BETTER. And while we searched high and low, we actually couldn’t find the other four lakes. Which is fine. Just gives us a reason to go back.
I guess all I’m really getting at here is that life doesn’t always turn out the way we want it to. But that’s okay because (CLICHÉ ALERT) it really is what we make of it. It sounds so simple, but it’s easy to forget. I’m lucky that as I stood on the frozen lake, taking it all in, I got a reminder of just that. I hope that wherever you are and whomever you’re with today, you’ll get one too (if you need it).
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to take my hippie (what the hell has happened to me?) ass to the hot tub. Don’t worry: I wear a bathing suit. For now…