June 01, 2021

The Struggle is Real

userBy Gwen Dildine user0 Comment

Steve has a shirt that says, “the struggle is real,” in reference to a Tyrannosaurus Rex trying to do a push-up, pull-up, and bench press. I gave it to him for Christmas as a funny nod to his profession as a personal trainer. All parents of young explorers can attest that we could make a similar shirt.

That shirt might depict a small child hiking up the side of a mountain in tears or peddling those last few miles back to the truck asking, “are we there yet?” or perhaps starring in agonizing boredom at yet another empty hook at the end of a fishing rod as if a fish was supposed to appear after each cast. We go anyway. Right?

The Struggles of Outdoor Recreation

One picture in particular inspired this post. It was Allen’s third and final day as part of Ski Bluewood’s EZ 1-2-3 beginner package, and he was doing so well thanks to very patient and exceptional instructors. Allen and I could barely get a boot on without someone experiencing at least slight irritation with the other. We were enjoying the typical beginner runs up Skyline Express Triple Chair. We all know the delicate balance of speed and control on Country Road to avoid hiking down the mountain. He seemed eager to try a run under the lift, so I figured Slalom was a logical next step.

Slick Ear Trail (Photo Credit: Steve Dildine)

The Slick Ear Trail is remote and challenging. As you can tell in this picture, I was so carefree and happy on the decent. How could I not be? Look at that view! The return journey was not so glamorous. My desk job caught up with me, and I ended up counting 100 steps followed by ten deep breaths on repeat. Steve commented that evening that he was working through the details of carrying me as my silence was worrisome.

A Picture is Worth 1,000 Words

After matching my every turn to perfection, we stopped to review how we would cross under the lift to continue on Slalom. I also accidentally added in a tidbit about how twenty years ago his grandpa broke his arm in likely the very spot he was standing. That was not the teachable moment I needed to motivate a newbie down a mountain.

The optics of Slalom aren’t great for a new skier. The large pole supporting the lift in the middle of the run, the people on the lift you swear are judging your technique, and an angle of approach that makes the run look steeper than it really is. As I attempted to coax Allen down the mountain via the pizza technique, he actually ended up doing the grater (sliding perpendicular with the mountain destroying all its freshly groomed qualities) with a splash of tears. I looked back and saw the most amazing site–the sun was now behind that large pole and the silhouette of all the riders clearly not judging their fellow snowsport enthusiast while happily awaiting their turn to shred the slopes. I took a picture.

Tucannon River (Photo Credit: Steve Dildine)

Steve took the kids on a last minute camping trip. They were supposed to cross Little Goose dam and spend the night. Did you know dams have very specific schedules? In hindsight, it is a good idea to keep such gigantic and complex structures on point. They obviously didn’t swim across, but they found a great dispersed camping spot. Our daughter even caught a pumpkinseed fish that evening. It didn’t go as planned but memories were made.

Keep Going

I posted that picture (of the sun behind the ski lift pole at the top of this post) to Outside Walla Walla’s social media accounts. I had to laugh at the splendor of what was captured, contrasted by the absolute drama happening behind the camera. Don’t worry. I vividly remember learning to ski and to this day don’t understand how the poor souls who taught me to ski agreed to stay friends. I channeled my inner David (the super hero skiing instructor), and we worked through moments of fear, anger, disappointment, and fatigue only to arrive at the bottom in a state of euphoria at the feat that was just accomplished. Any guesses what we did?

We did it again! My point is that we post a lot of pretty pictures and talk about many wonderful places. I want you to know that for all those moments there are so many frustrating and exhausting ones as well. Just as I start thinking to myself that we are crazy for attempting any number of adventures, a little, sweet voice will profess that, “this is the best trip ever.” So guess what we do?

We go again.