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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The glory of the White Mountains

Every year around Christmas, my step-dad Marty, gives me a weekend of adaptive snowboarding, at his local mountain.  Cannon, in the white mountains of New Hampshire.this mountain rage still has a similar grandeur to it, as it did when I was a kid.  I love working with adaptive program there as well.  They all make an effort to provide me with  the same instructor, each year, I love that continuity, plus it's like seeing old friends, upon returning.

Marty picks me up in Burlington, and shuttles me, my gear, and his dog, back to the white mountains.  Henry, the dog, is a recent addition to the mix.  He seems very skeptical, and uneasy about me.  Sometimes, even animals need more time to figure me out.  My movement patterns are absolutely unique, which often invites curiosity, or occasionally uneasiness.  Henry largely avoided me the whole weekend, unless I was sitting.  The White mountain range always strikes me as far more dramatic than the Green mountain range, in Vermont.  Not sure why, they looming, and create a sense of grandeur.  I've lived in Vermont for 11 years, and have yet to find that same feeling.  The Green Mountains are a different nail to me, I find myself unable to describe why.  Perhaps because I'm soo familiar with them now.

I look forward to riding at Cannon every year, mainly because of the continuity.  I work with the same guy every time.  It's always fun to work with someone you know, and appreciate working with.  The conversation is easier, because you already know some things.  It's also extremely helpful for me, as he has a gage of how my mobility improves/changes year to year, which is extremely helpful.  The person who works with Ben, to support us, handle the extra gear I may need, or help out with the ridiculous process of getting me safely on a chairlift.  This visit that was Dave, a newer volunteer.  After our first run, we atteptd to sit 3 across, on the chairlift.  That went rather badly, and we had a fantastic wipeout.  Ben caught me as the chairlift took me by surprise, and somehow managed to recover, and continue riding the lift.  Things didn't work out well for Dave, who was carrying our boards.  I have to walk on the lifts at Cannon.  Not sure why, it's just how adaptive seems to do it there.  Actually, it's probably because of the challenging landing, getting off the lift.  It's quite steep.  Actually we slide down this brief embankment, on our heels.  Ben tells me I get to practice my skiing as well, there.  I originally fell in love with snowboarding for the sense of freedom it gave me.  I grew up skiing intermittently skiing.  At 19, I bought my first snowboard, because concept of having both my feet attached to the same moving object, seemed more stable.  The learning curve was slow, and I remained consistently bruised, from every venture.  Months before I acquired my injury, I bought myself new gear from Burtons tent sale,  after my injury, they had me in adaptive programs while I was still on inpatient recovery.  As I progressed, I decided to stick with it.  I quickly learned that sit skiing gave me a very cold bum, and that my left arm was not able to support my turns.  Therefore, I still snowboard.  I miss freedom, and indepence in nearly all of my physical ventures, though I'm certainly not alone there.

On Saturday ,ourday ended early, due to thi instructors being needed for a promotional film clip shoot. Marty had disappeared,mand coulnt be reached.  Eventually I found him, napping in the car.  That evening we had a delicious dinner at a fantastic flat bread pizza, combination brewery.  Such a divine mix of 2 wonderful things.  I'd been looking forward to their pizza.  Schillings has become a favored eatery for me.  Upon returning to the house, I called in an early night.

The next morning, I got up, and washed up.  The sink is a rather unique design, where the water shoots up, before gravity pulls it back down.  That morning it was perturbed with me, and there must've been some air in the pipes, because the water shot at me, not up, including its usual fashion.  Awkward.  I had to put a different shirt, but considering how much water had randomly exploded from the sink, I'd done well, to not be completely soaked.  I did what little I could to dry things off,found a dry shirt, and went downstairs to find oatmeal ready, and waiting.  After that, we piled back into the truck, for the quick jaunt over to the mountain.  

We picked up where we had left off the day before.  The first run often feels ridiculous and awkward, as my brain slowly figures out how I need to move.  One great thing is that this year, I've e  noticed how much less I feel the need told onto my instructors with a white knuckle death grip.  My hands say a lot, for me, and in the past 2 years, I've noticed tem relaxing more, in new, or different situations.  When I'm nervous, or frightened, with regard to my mobility, my left hand involuntarily freezes into a clenched fist.  Snowboarding challenges so much my motor difficulties, balance, visual processing, and coordination.  As with anything, the more I do it, the easier, and more natural the movements become. Prac, practice,, practice, oh, and more practice.  Welcome to the single most frustrating, yet unbelievably amazing part of my brain injury world.  Retraing, my adult self to move, and attempt to function.  It has been a blessing, and cuse to have retained certan skills, and memories, only to not be able to execute them, as I remember.  Back in inpatient rehab all those years ago, we had to work everyday, at training my arms and legs to move, on command.  I had lots of spastic movement, but little to no control.  I have to think about how to move, before I do, sometimes.  Although that can be a slippery slope, and frighten myself into being unable to move, occasionally.  Every day, is really a new day, as I have to orient my frame of mind to my ability to move, that day.  The inconsistency is a bitch.  There's just no other way to succinctly describe how frustrating it can be, to not be free to trust in your physical ability to complete a task.

Sunday morning, the conditions were somewhat miserable.  It was 15-20 degrees cooler than the day before, the snow was fast, hard, and crunchy, where it had been sticky pow,  the day before.  We took faster runs, and harerd falls.  Ben made a game of weaving through some cones, on a section of the hill, and we ended up dominating it, but only after  a couple epic/ridiculous falls.  After luch we decided to call it a day, and ride tram to take in the views of Franconia Notch State Park/ Cannon Mountain ski area.  What an incredible view! Mi always forget that Cannon has a tram.  I swore I'd never  known about the tram, yet as soon asistepped onto the platform, I had this flashback memory of riding the tram with Marty's family, when I was in college.  So bizarre how old memories sneak up, and surprise me like that.

That afternoon, I packed up my gear, and we hit the road, back to Vermont.  I am so grateful to have this opportunity each year, the White Mountain lifestyle has always been so inviting, not to mention I always enjoy making connections to my life, pre-injury.  I feel it's important to be able to draw connections.

Sorry there are no photos this time, they refuse to load.


Dad said...

Awesome! I've not tried it. Xcountry is so nice, to be out in nature...

Julie/Mom said...

For some reason I just got this post via my email. I don't remember reading it before. After reading your latest post (June 2015) I am in awe of how much better your writing skills are now. I know this changes every day but it's quite evident comparing these two posts.
Glad you had a good time with Marty and snowboarding! Here's to your next adventure in Utah!
Love you the most,