Perhaps you’ve heard that I have a bit of a thing about going down hill, speed, being out of control, falling etc. It’s been a recurring theme for many of my crazy things. It was driving me nuts that I’m so paranoid about falling when I cross country ski that I automatically take my ski out of the track and turn it into a break at the merest sight of a downhill – whether the hill warrants it or not. I wanted this automatic response to stop.
A few years ago I was night skiing and I had some really bad falls. It was really icy, the temperature was ridiculously cold (in the -20C range) and my glasses didn’t just fog up, they froze so I couldn’t see anything. I fell hard and my body has this locked in memory that I can’t let go of.
My fear started getting worse. Senior citizens would kick snow in my face as they skied past me going down hill. I developed a killer snow plow. It got so bad a few years ago my friend Wendy wanted to take me up to Sun Peaks to the top of a black diamond cross country trail and push me down to desensitize me from the sensation of going fast. She assumed that by the time I stopped screaming I’d have this fear thing handled. I never let her ski behind me on a hill after that.
They day was January 17th. Jody and I were going for a short, happy ski in fresh snow. For most skiers the snow would have been annoying because it was slower. For us it was perfect!
We did a route of easy green trails for about 6Km. There are some nice rolling hills and I knew I had to put some effort into getting over this fear. I told Jody that for that day I had to keep my ski in the track on all hills. She laughed and agreed, and got out her phone to video it. I was determined.
As we did each hill I felt like I couldn’t breathe. My heart was in my throat and I was shaking by the time I got to the bottom. There were times when my foot just jumped out of the track by itself. When that happened I had to stop, go back up the hill and try again. Frequently, when it happened, I may have said some bad words… I know… if you know me you’re probably shocked! (but not really).
We did Ponderosa, Hoss, and Little Joe – all fun green trails near the day lodge at Stake Lake. On one particular hill on Hoss I had to start at the top three times before I finally made it.
The snow was fresh and slow, perfect conditions. I told Jody I had to do it and she was willing to stop while I battled my fears. My leg jumps out of the tracks to act as a break – it’s like an instinct I have a hard time stopping. It just shoots out the second I start to pick up speed.
So, with the Wendy Lehar desensitizing plan firmly locked in my head I vowed to do our entire route without sticking my foot out. It was really hard and when my foot shot out part way down a hill there may have been some F-bombs as I stopped, climbed the hill, and started again.Good thing Jody lost the video she took with all the f-bombs in it… no proof!
Eventually I made it through the route doing all the hills. I was exhausted! No pictures for this one but Jody is my witness – I did it!
Why was this crazy?
Oh, the usual, fear of falling, fear of going fast, fear of being out of control.
Would I do it again?
If the conditions are right I am trying to do it as much as I can – my own desensitization at my own pace.