Travel Stories

The Mountain and Me

Words: Redge Bendheim. Cover Photo: Mike Brindley

I have no snowshoes, no skins or splits, no avalanche gear, no season pass, no lift ticket, and no money. My goggles constantly fog, my down jacket is too puffy for the times, and my beenie has long lost its elastic capability to hug my head. My snowboard is something between crap and functional, though in surprisingly good condition. But nature doesn’t care about my destitute state – the snow still falls and the mountain still stands. The resorts may have cast me off, but nature stands patiently as a mother hen holding her wings outstretched to receive me in my ragtag state. Or is she more like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, showing innocence and comfort yet ready to pounce on my unprotected and unprepared condition. Like my board, she is most likely something in between.

In college finding time to escape to the mountains and small lift lines was easy. Tuesday, Thursday – class.  Monday, Wednesday, Friday – snowboard (Saturdays on the mountain were a zoo and to be avoided at all costs). My body healed faster, my energy was higher, and season passes for students were cheaper… way cheaper. Something of a dirty marketing trick to get us hooked, then crank up the prices when we graduated – dirty indeed.

“The resorts may have cast me off, but nature stands patiently as a mother hen holding her wings outstretched to receive me”

        With the passage of time, and the onset of career, marriage, and kids, life becomes something beautiful, refined, amorous, and an absolute catastrophic mess. A rock hard mess of finances, mortgages, commitments, and calories. Balance becomes important, as well as recognizing the beautiful things in life and hanging on for survival.

        Through it all, I have been able to snowboard a day or two each winter.  Pathetic, I know.  Yet the beauty of it is I remember each day. And each day stands out as a beautiful memory. This year time has somewhat loosened up for me, and I can commit to more days on the mountain, however my humble financial circumstances aren’t exactly harmonizing with lift ticket and gear pricing. In fact they aren’t even performing within the same genre, like mixing jazz and country, or Bach and Slash. Not to mention that I live in Southern California, and we aren’t exactly known for our back country abundance.  But hey look at the bright side, I have mastered sitting in traffic on freeways – it took a while, but man I got that one down.

At least some underused kit gains value with age.

So what is to become of a person like me? Priced out, counted out, worked out, and dying for some escape. Maybe the answer does lie in Mother Nature, and it’s up to me to make things happen. I think she would support that mentality, right? After all she seems pretty independent as well, relying on her own forces to make things happen.

Perhaps I just need to take matters into mine own hands and find a way to get on any mountain with snow. I feel like some sort of swindler, gambling addict, or failed entrepreneur who won’t let money get him down. The adventure shows promise and I will compel a way to partake. Force one in fact. Desperate, but somewhat inspiring. Like the crazies mentioned above, I too am most likely bound for failure – a bankruptcy of any everything but passion.

“I feel like some sort of swindler, gambling addict, or failed entrepreneur who won’t let money get him down”

Maybe I should take more joy in my preparation. Even though I may not be on the mountain, and my gear is impossibly retro in a not-so-cool way, I can wax my board, sharpen my rails, obsessively plan out my one or two days of boarding, binge watch Youtube snowboard clips, write essays about wintry famine. Is any of it worth it?

Again, like Mother Nature, perhaps I am just in a season of drought, awaiting a time when circumstances will allow for plentiful days in the snow. All things can’t be experienced at once, and like the rains that fall on dry land, the next day on the mountain will be just as heaven sent – creating one more lasting memory.

Photo: Mike Brindley
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