Everything that goes up must come down.
This is a loose sequel to my other short story: Up, Up, Up. Although this story stands on its own, I still recommend checking it out!
In the mountains the sun came up at eight and went down at five. It was 4:30 when we stepped off the gondola and the sun began its descent. We took the last ride up and it was a long way down. The cold bit at my wrists and forehead where my gear didn’t quite seal my body from the air. I pulled the wrist straps tight on the gloves, adjusted my helmet, and walked towards the drop.
We were at the highest part of the mountain the gondolas could take us. From there the French Alps stretched as far as I could see in every direction and the sun was painting the sky a golden-orange color. Down below us Val Thorens looked small. That was where we needed to go.
We had taken the same path down many times that day, but I still strapped my ski boots tight because my legs had gotten very sore and the beers I drank at the Après Ski Club settled in. It would be the most difficult run of the day. We both stood sideways on our skis for a moment to take in the sunset over the valley before dropping into the long run home.
The run starts off very steep and then meets with a more level, groomed trail. When you drop into the steep section, the mountain behind you blocks the sun and it becomes difficult to see the rocks and good lines. During that section we stayed focused. Breathing heavily and fighting against our burning legs.
Once we met the groomed trail we let our legs rest by simply standing on our skis while they carried us smoothly across the snow towards the lodge. You simply stand there and the mountains slip by and the town gets bigger and your legs feel better. And you think how beautiful it is and how warm the fireplace will be and the stories you will tell your friends. And you think about everything. And you let your mind wander and you keep gliding like that until you get to your lodge and it’s all over.
Val Thorens, France [Winter 2021]
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