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Not yo’ mama’s mountain chairlift

By on December 24, 2018 in Columnist with 0 Comments

By Julia Scott

I know not how on God’s white earth I had managed to board the high-speed quad chairlift at this mega ski resort, but somehow, this country bumpkin was with my family on our way to the top of the mountain.

It was the whopping-est high-powered, most ferocious monster I had ever seen, and I was ensnared within its malicious jaws.

As a farmer’s wife, I should have been accustomed to large, loud engines. Nevertheless, they have always intimidated me. And this was a RAGING BEAST!

The closer to the top, the more nervous I became. If not for wanting to stick tight to my family, the ear-splitting roar of the behemoth engine would have had me skedaddling to the lodge to nurse my irrational fears over hot chocolate. (With marshmallows, please. Stat!)

My husband, Greg, had been patiently, calmly explaining how the chairlift operated and how to exit. He knew if I didn’t experience a successful departure I’d be hard-pressed to do it again. As we reached the top, my precarious fate lay before me. We were next to unload. This was the moment of truth…

Our chair had slowed just as Greg said it would, but by now the engine was belching such a steady stream of expletives I could barely hear his words.

Greg hollered calming, instructive words to me. “IT’S NOT DANGEROUS, IT’S JUST SCARY! TRY TO RELAX!” he bellowed. “JUST DO WHAT I DO!”

I was completely unnerved by the roar of this enormous, ear-splitting, thundering contraption and the approaching bullwheel, compounded by the stress of the oncoming chairs behind. Relaxing was about as easy as hiccupping and snorting at the same time. This was not yo’ mama’s mountain chairlift — this was a HURLING DEATH MACHINE!

The chair had switched from the fast cable to the slow one by this time. I felt my skis make contact with the ramp. All I had to do was stand up with Greg, but deathly fear told me (in the same voice as Luke Skywalker’s father) that I wouldn’t be able to exit before the chair swooped off again, launching me into a high-speed bullwheel merry-go-round of murder!

There was still plenty of time to exit, but I was taunted by the image of this monster machine catapulting me far into the great abyss; my deader-than-a-dilapidated-dodo’s carcass entombed deeply, only to be dredged out in the spring thaw.

I tried to comfort myself with the idea that maybe these fears were a figment of my imagination (which is all too often crammed with all sorts of odd figments.)

But as anxiety escalated to terror, I stood too soon. Go figure.

I tried to ski out of it but there was just too much momentum. The moving seat pressed against the backs of my knees. In what became an exceedingly embarrassing moment before God Himself and a mountain packed with people tighter than a can of sardines (and patrol dogs too) — Miss Grace Olympian herself LURCHED into a colossal BELLYFLOP!

The others on my chair skied effortlessly down the ramp on cue like a well-oiled machine. But there I was, SPREAD-EAGLE PLASTERED to the ramp — blocking the exit.

Anxiety mounted within as the upcoming chairs loaded with skiers loomed forward, convincing me I couldn’t get out of the way in time.

I pictured an immense pile of people, skis and poles, snowboards, hats, gloves, goggles, bad tempers and appalling insults. And as the weight multiplied, underneath it all — there I’d be, squashed flatter than a road pizza. God help us all!

Just as I was deciding between burial and cremation, from straight out of the clouds above, like mercy from heaven — I felt the rescuing hand of Greg seizing the back of my coat as if I were an errant pup.

Our gang, and far too many onlookers became a bursting, belly-laughing chorus as Greg slid me down the ramp to safety.

Yup, another big fat slap across the self-esteem.

My neck had a charley horse and I thought I might have a hernia to complement it. But nevertheless, I survived the ordeal.

Several winters have passed, and I am now so slick about exiting high-speed chairlifts that sometimes I do it with my eyes shut, just to show off to myself.

And I can’t help but chuckle whenever I think of how the former “Hurling Death Machine” turned out to actually be “The Sweet Chariot of Winter Fun.”

Julia Scott, a Wenatchee resident, is praying for enormous snowfall this winter and plans to make good use of Mission Ridge skiing (and the chairlift!).

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