Thursday, May 3, 2012

Early To Bed, Early to Rise...

Standing there waiting for the chair to collect me, an experience I've had thousands times over the past thirty years, it was almost like the first time. My feet felt unsure, my eyes unadjusted, something was missing. And then, before I could reassess my outing, I was swooped up and carried off. Into the dark. Up and up I was carried. My feet hanging below me, almost weightless in comparison with my past experiences. The cool air breezed all around me and I hunkered into my hood listening to the persistent humming of the chair and the relative silence below.

The day before I had been contemplating what I would do to celebrate Easter Sunday. We were skiing in Beaver Creek for the weekend and the mass schedules I had looked at were few and far between. But my very dear friend gave me the perfect solution...and what turned out to be the pinnacle of my trip.

Sunrise over the mountains
Sunday morning rolled around and the alarm sounded at 5:15AM. I quietly slipped out of bed, so as to not disturb the boy, layered myself with warm gear and departed for the base of the mountain. It was so early and so dark on Easter morning that part of me really felt like I could happen upon the Easter Bunny out hiding eggs and delivering yummy chocolate covered marshmallows and the like. Could have been the delirium of the early hour or my inner three year-old really holding out hope it could be true. As I crested the steps of the village, the silence was broken by the hum of the chairlift and a minor spotlight to help guide riders to the boarding spot. A handful of people boarded the chair for the top swiftly slipping into the dark night as they were whisked upwards. A sensation I experienced seconds later as I was lifted sans board or skis onto the chair and into the chill night breeze.

Sunrise Service Attendees
Atop the mountain, we all congregated in the mid chalet where coffee and hot cocoa (and jet puffed 'mallows!) awaited our arrival. A band played music while people listened peacefully, talked with neighbors, or peered out the window at the horizon in anticipation. Shortly thereafter, it began. The non-denominational sunrise service was wonderfully inspirational and full of hope and thoughtfulness for the day and months to come. Once the service concluded, we all gathered outside to see the highly anticipated sunrise while the most darling Austrian gentleman clad in lederhosen played "Saving Grace" on his alpenhorn. Truly sublime.

"Saving Grace"
Later (7 AM), people headed back to the chairlift to descend the mountain. I noticed two women head off in the direction we had skied down so many times in the previous days. Curious, I approached a ski patrol and inquired whether it was kosher to walk down. He said, "Sure, but it's quite a hike - about 4 miles - and somewhat tough in patches." No problem, I thought...this will be fun. And so I descended on foot and even caught up to the ladies where they were sliding down on their butts. It was late season and relatively icy and bumpy so I did have some battle wounds at the end (and on my end), but the sheer thrill of zooming down the mountain in the still twilight hours of the morning was exhilarating. I finished my adventure with a latte at the mountain base watching the ski patrol catch first tracks of the morning.
Alternative way down the mountain
Easter is the celebration of the resurrection of Christ. A rebirth or re-awakening. My awakening that morning was one of the most refreshing I've had in a long time. And one I'll try to remember on other mornings when the day doesn't look quite so promising.

1 comment:

  1. I love this. What a beautiful way to celebrate Easter.