It’s that Time of Year

I often talk about how difficult spring can be for me. In spring all the snow is melting and I usually don’t have a real plan for the summer. I have always figured something out, but every spring I still stress about life, and what I want to do with mine. A sentiment that I think many skiers often experience.

Beautiful!

A photo posted by Aaron Rice (@airandrice) on

The last few years, I have essentially eliminated fall from my life. Not intentionally, it has just happened. I work all summer and then come October, I head to the mountains and begin winter, escaping most of fall. Or in the case of last year, I came back from Argentina and began winter right away. This year has been different. Summer in Vermont is short and quickly transitions to fall. Often winter takes it’s time arriving and we are left with a very long fall. The way I have arranged my life, I am experiencing a full fall this year for the first time in a while. 

Fall is not as easy as I remember. Excitement grows, just to be squashed by the next warm wave. The days are short and the temps are cold. Motivation to go on long rides with cold hands is hard to come by. No matter how much I hope the ski season has started, it really has yet to arrive. It is usually either too cold or wet for real good climbing. So what are we left with? Trail running is probably a good bet, but I can only do so much with out starting to be concerned about my knees.

Tis a very confusing time of year… #mtbvt @stowetrails #2point5mil #training

A video posted by Aaron Rice (@airandrice) on

 

The result is that motivation to do any physical activity is low. Most athletes* I know don’t do well when their activity level goes down. When I do less activity I begin to try to solve problems that don’t need to be solved. I find issues with the people I am living with. Things that I should be able to brush off or let go of, I start brooding over. I sometimes start to spiral into the hole of unmotivation. In this state is easy to feel like the first person who has ever been unmotivated. However, I know that this happens to nearly everyone at one point or another. I think for many people that do not ski, this unmotivation spiral happens in the winter. Man, am I glad to have skiing!!

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This is Dexter, he lays here all day, everyday, sometime I feel like this.

Instead of getting stuck in the unmotivation spiral, I am trying to figure out what I can do to cope. Writing about it here is certainly one thing that helps me name the problem and start looking critically at solutions. Obviously staying active is a good solution, but often easier said than done. Sometimes, I think unsuccessfully fighting the lack of motivation only hurts more. Rather, maybe this is a great time to focus some energy on everything else, the stuff that I never want to do. Schedule a doctors checkup and dentist appointment (I actually like going to the dentist, just not scheduling things). Instead of going on a long ride today and this weekend I am planning on focusing my energy on shooting footage for the film T-Bar Films and I are making. I have also signed up for an AIARE II course and will be finding a place to live in SLC next week. I have been baking a lot of pies and cookies.

Digging out of the unmotivation spiral is always difficult, but I am learning that even just the act of trying new techniques for breaking the cycle helps. The cycles of the season are natural and it is only natural to be affected by these changes.

I also always hold on to knowing that seasons change and before long winter will be here and we will be shredding pow all day!

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Wasatch pow. Photo: Eric Praetorius

 

*I kind of hate this term. I have never considered myself an athlete. I am just a person and I think everyone can enjoy physical activity and the more physical activity we do the better we feel and healthier we are. Saying we are athletes somehow makes it sound like we are different for everyone else in a core way, which I do not believe.

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Early morning turns to start the season!

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The first east coast turns of the season have been made!

A 5:30am wake up proved to be a tad on the early side. After a nice couple cups of coffee and breakfast I headed to the Stowe parking lot. Bits of wintery mix hit my windshield but there was nothing on the ground…

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Arriving at the parking lot things looked a bit grim. Whatever. I’m here, I might as well walk to the top and see what up there.

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Right as I started walking it began snowing. A quick inch fell! Just enough!

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Snoliage at it’s best! After a 15 minute wrestling match with my frozen boots I got them on, and made the first turns of the season!

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West vs. East …. Grand vs. Cozy

Growing up in subrural (the rural equivalent to sub-urban) New England I was always surrounded by forest and the largest mountains I saw were the White Mountains of New Hampshire. When I first visit “The West” I was in awe. Everything was so big. The mountains seemed like they were 10 times the size and everything was steep. I am certainly not the first east coaster to experience this feeling. When I moved out west after graduating from college I began to really explore these mountains that felt so large. I found that they really weren’t that large. A season exploring an area and it would begin to feel small again. I began asking myself what the true differences were between the East and West Coast.

tight New England trees

Tight New England trees

BIg

Big Colorado expansiveness

I have often described the East Coast as cozy and the West as grand. A 360° view in the East is a rare sight. Only the occasional mountain top or large field has a truly wide panoramic view. The West is the opposite. There are lots of arid area with no trees, and where there are forest, you can usually see right through them. Always being able to see a long distance will make a place feel big for sure. I think this is why people always say the sky is bigger out west.

About as open as it gets in VT.

About as open as it gets in VT.

The West is also steeper. Mountain with 2 or 3,000 feet of prominence can be found all over the east, but generally they aren’t steep. They are essentially a very large hill. For sure, out West there are much bigger mountains, but even the smaller ones seem bigger because they are steeper.

big and steep

Big and steep

I believe that there is still a mentality of westward expansion in the minds of East Coast youth. Whether that means moving to Portland, or San Francisco, or moving to the mountains of Montana or Colorado. When you grow up in the East you are always looking West for opportunity and adventure. I can’t say from personal experience, but I don’t think the same can be said for people that grow up out West. Maybe there is some drive to move to a big Eastern city like New York, but there is certainly no mystery and magical allure like the West has for us Easterners.

Easterners laugh at UT tree skiing

Easterners laugh at UT tree skiing

Growing up in the East, when I moved West I often found myself feeling exposed and out of place. I was endlessly exploring the grand expanses Colorado and Utah had to offer, but I would always be happy to be back in the cozy shelter of trees. I spent almost 3 years on and off in Colorado and Utah. This summer and fall I am back in Vermont. I am very much in the woods. Line of sight stops 3 feet from the forest edge. There are huge white pines surrounding the house and the small yard gets a maximum of 4 hours of sunlight a day. I feel very at home in this setting. However, for the first time in my life I find myself craving the wide view the West offers.

Wide view

Wide view

I’m sure somewhere in the world there is a compromise to be found, and I will just keep looking.

 

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