Location: Mount Hood, Oregon
Images: Richard Hallman
Over three feet of cold smoke brought our winter stoke back with a fury. The energy has been nothing short of electric. HI5’s, laughs, and hugs have been the standard. Reality is winter never left, it just missed our expectations so we all became sad. So I asked myself why is so much of my happiness dependent on time in the mountains?
It brought me back to a conversation years ago with a swami I have known most my life. He asked me with his thick Indian accent……“Why do you spend so much time risking injury or death in the mountains?” I told him the mountains inspire me, they calm me, while making me feel connected to the universe. He smiled telling me I am wasting energy, one can find those things through meditation. I fired back asking if he had ever climbed a mountain or skied allowing him to understand my connection to the mountains? I was angered with what he told me. “No my boy, but for thousands of years we have had meditation to help us with all you seek in the mountains. Happiness is found inside, not outside.” I was pissed but knew debates with Hindu’s were fruitless thanks to my dad always telling… “There is no right or wrong son. There just is what was meant to be.” Like always never got my way!
Funny how lessons are rarely learned in the moment but years later. Some time ago I sat by myself on top of Mount Hood for my two hundredth summit ski. Emotions went from from tears to laughter to reflection. I began thinking about why I kept coming back to this place so often. The answer blew me away. I always though it was about the skiing. The fact was I could only remember a dozen epic summit descents. I realized it was never about the skiing, it was about the experience. I started remembering all the summits laughing with my closest freinds. I remembered spreading the ashes of friends that died too young. It was always about finding happiness. Poop, swami was right.
Fact is our winters are no longer the same. We can blame ourselves for creating this climate change or it might just be our earth doing what is written. It simply doesn’t matter. What matters is our approach on why we come to the mountains. Thinking epic mountain days will in some fashion make everything in our lives better is a fools errand. Swami was right, happiness comes from inside us………but a little part of me still believes epic pow pow KAPOW days allow us a short cut to happiness.