Journeys: Skiing in the UP

Falling down and having fun is par for the course (for this skier, at least)
Journeys - Skiing


The above person is not me. Believe it or not, taking pictures of myself while I go down the slope is not my priority. However, I did fall a ton on my first double black diamonds. And during my first experiences with powder. And on my first tree runs. In my defense, oftentimes, they all mixed together depending on the slope during my trip out to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula two weeks ago.

The summary of our trip is simple: Eight skiers and one snowboarder took to the slopes at Indianhead and spread out across all of the runs, from the bunny hill to the double black diamonds. We stayed at a marvelous and cozy AirBnb 0.7 miles from the ski hill, ate our Saturday dinner at Kimball Inn—even without the God-given poutine on the menu, it was still delicious— and raced to the Norske Nook on the way back to get pie.

I haven’t always been able to fall down double black diamonds, mind you; when I first started dating my husband, I was only good at dive-bombing blue squares, my enthusiasm for going fast (my formative years, my dad took me cross country skiing) and my faith in judging my raw ability overshadowing timidity. As my brother-in-law put it, the first time he saw me skiing, I was descending the slope quickly, but while I wasn’t exactly pizza-slicing, I wasn’t turning, either.

One of the main things I knew about Robert McLernon when we started dating was that he was a downhill skier and in his senior year of high school, he was co-captain of our varsity team. As I got to know him, I also found out he had started skiing much earlier through Otto Hallaus (and with his family) and that he generally thought that skiing anywhere around the Twin Cities wasn’t intense. No offense.

I was a little nervous to ski with him.

I didn’t want to be that slowpoke on the hill that would hold him back from having fun.

But then we went skiing (at Afton, of course), and it was easy. He tried to give me tips when I asked and at the beginning, he would stay with me down the hill or help me up when I fell. He’s even lapped the run to return a ski that popped out of its binding and didn’t quite make it to the side of the slope with me. As I’ve gotten better—as I’ve gotten more confident—we’ve settled into a rhythm where generally we take off together and I meet him at the bottom of the hill. Sometimes I’m closer to him if he’s doodling around in the snow and doing helicopters or it’s a short enough hill to dive bomb, but sometimes, especially when he’s skiing with his brother, he’s criss-crossing across the hill aggressively leaning downhill.

We’ve also been that cheesy couple who have skied with me facing backwards, into him, as his skis direct us down the hill.

Throughout my various stages of skill, he’s always been patient and never made me feel like I was holding him back. And that’s the attitude you need to share a passion of yours with someone else. If you’re very lucky, your passion can become theirs to a varying degree; Robert McLernon doesn’t have to ask me twice if I want to go skiing. Otherwise, it’s the simple act of something with a person you love that makes the memory.

I can’t tell you how much it means to me when my friends go ice skating with me or ask about how my lessons are going. And hopefully, the interest I show in their hobbies means just as much. It’s not always an interest in the hobby that matters; it’s an interest in the person.