I am rafting down a beautiful canyon. There are occasional surprises around the bend, but nothing that stops the boat or causes more than a solid adrenaline rush. I am pretty deep in the canyon when a big storm hits and suddenly the water starts moving much quicker. I am rapidly loosing control of the boat as the current pulls it down stream. As I begin to enter a narrow part of the canyon, the waves ahead look huge and I can no longer see the rocks or holes to avoid. I am quickly realizing that there isn’t much I can do. I must let the river take me. I hit a large wave and as the boat comes off the wave, it slams a rock underneath immediately flipping. As I surface, all my belongings that have fallen off the raft surround me and I can see the raft further downstream. I am in a full panic, getting tossed and turned by the rapids as I try my best to stay strong and fight the current. Just when I thought I had made it through the worst of them, another wave would pull me under. All that training and racing wasn’t for nothing. I am able to find just enough strength to get to shore. That is only the beginning though. My boat is downstream stuck in a mass of branches coming from the shore and all my belongings are still floating downstream. I feel like I have been through a washing machine. I am disoriented, confused, lost, alone, and wondering how I had so little foresight to not see this coming.
Eventually, I make my way down to my raft, only to learn just how tangled up it is. There are branches through every rope and crevice on the entire raft, not to mention the amount of debris it picked up on its way down there. It’s going to take a long time to get this thing untangled and the unfortunate part is that even when I get it free, I will still be missing many of my belongings that weren’t retrievable. I will likely pick up some as I continue downstream, items that got caught in the vegetation or were deposited on sandbars, but some are gone forever. There is no way to run the rapid again. It is not possible to row upstream and even if I could, it wouldn’t be possible to have the same conditions over again. The storm turned out to cause a 100 year flood that will likely not happen again in my lifetime, but it also altered the river, changing it’s path and altering the rapids. I have no choice, but to untangle the raft, gather all the pieces I can, and continue downstream.
I am rafting the river the life. In the past few months, I have rafted some class V rapids, one after the other for quite some time. I have always said that I learned more about myself and the way the world works in my freshman year of college than the rest of my life combined, but the past few months have crushed that. I have never felt so many different emotions, experienced so many different events, had so many thoughts run through my head, or had to draw on that much strength from others and from within. I don’t believe there is a way to “move on” from such events, only a way to try our best to accept, to learn, to respond, and to gain strength from. It is a process that I am learning takes a really long time. The good news is that I have already learned that I am not a quitter and I do not give up easily, some may even say stubborn.
I suppose the worst of times often bring a sense of thankfulness for certain things that you may not have seen before. I am forever indebted to my parents for teaching me the value of the outdoors. I would be hopelessly lost if I didn’t have an escape in training. Breathing hard and being surrounded by the natural environment has allowed for moments of clarity, for escape, for peace, and for meaning. Family has always meant a lot to me, but when they are there for you immediately, when they are flying back and forth across the country to show their support, and when they don’t let you loose sight, your meaning in family grows a little deeper. I also learned that a true friend is a rare commodity and something that should be treated as so. I can’t believe how tolerant and patient my true friends have been. They have been picking up my pieces right and left and gluing them back on me. I have found true friends in places I wasn’t necessarily looking and vice versa. I am very thankful for those that have found one of my belongings and thrown it back in the raft. I am grateful that Park City is my home and that I was able to spend the last two months there. I was able to participate in the U.S. Ski Team camp as well, giving me 2 weeks of some tough training with my own teammates and fast girls from all over.
I am now back in Alaska, where I hope to spend a little less time processing the last year and more time working on my studies, skiing, and preparing for the season. In many ways, I feel more driven and committed to my ski career than in the past as it seems to be the only path right now that is more predictable, safe, and can give back what I put into it. I know already that every time I pull a piece of myself back together, I grow a little stronger. I am approaching the strength of a steel wall and that is something that I can use to not only be a better ski racer, but a better person.
As you might imagine, I was unable and unwilling to keep a blog the past two months, and I hope I still have followers even without my personal promoter, but as ski season approaches, I am back on the horse and hope to have weekly updates of adventures, results, and hopefully lots of good news. I appreciate hearing from you as well, so please never hesitate to send an email or leave a comment. Here's to a bright future!
|Fall colors at home|
|Enjoying some single track|
|Getting the last few days of biking in|
|Climbing amazing mountains|
|With one of my best adventure buddies!|
|My beautiful home|
|Enjoying fall in a blizzard|
|Running lots of miles with Char|
|Getting work for our magic PT, Zuzana|
|Doing some racing at soldier hollow|
|Enjoying the post-race feelings|
|Spending time with great friends|