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On zen and the art of skiing with your family

On zen and the art of skiing with your family photo by Jeff Walker, Eldora Mountain Resort

By Rachel Walker

It was supposed to be the easiest ski day of the season. I would take our four-year-old son Henry, who is getting really good at riding the lifts and snowplowing down the blue runs, up to Eldora, our local hill. My husband would stay home with our toddler.

I was thrilled at the prospect of a ski date with Henry. He and I dont get much one-on-one time. But as we were finishing up breakfast, Jeff, my husband, mentioned hed like to go up to the mountains, too.

What was I going to say? Naturally we could all go, I answered. But Henry and I were pairing off. Jeff and Silas, our two-year-old, would take the bunny hill.

Adding in those two changed everything. Our mellow morning became a whirlwind of lunch packing, gear gathering, and kid bundling. Jeff was eager to get on the road, and as a result we all rushed. Thirty minutes later, just as we crested the highway into Nederland, I had a terrible feeling.

Pull over.

A quick search confirmed my hunch: in our haste, we forgot the kids ski pants and jackets (they were just wearing their long underwear for the car ride). Sigh. We turned around, drove down the canyon, fetched the outerwear, and hit the road once more.

At Eldora, we split up, Henry and I going to the Challenger lift and Jeff and Silas heading for the magic carpet.

Thats when I realized I had no idea how to step into the fancy new bindings Id just had mounted on my brand new skis. The bindings are made by Dynafit and are a super light, super durable backcountry binding thats powerful enough to be used in-bounds. Theyre (supposedly) awesome. Theyre also extremely high tech. I fiddled and fiddled, while Henry patiently ate snow, before realizing I would never figure them out on my own.

We schlepped over to the baby slope and found Jeff and Silas having a ball. Jeff was skiing backward, and Silas was gunning toward him, his tiny skis actually obeying his signals to turn left or right.

Five minutes later, Jeff decoded the binding for me and I was in (I should have asked how to get outmore on that later).

Finally, hours after we originally intended to be skiing, Henry and I were riding the lift. But I was struggling to be present. My mind kept racing to check lists and wondering whose fault it was that we left everything to begin with and questioning if I loved my new ski/binding/boot set up as much as I thought I would. While I perseverated, Henry just hummed and looked out at the skiers beneath us. When the chair floated by a tree bedecked in Mardi Gras beads, he laughed and told me he wished he had ski poles for arms so he could grab one of the necklaces for me.

When we got to the top and off the chairlift, he pointed his skis to a small puff of snow and jumped, then turned to me with eyes wide and a huge smile.

Did you see how high I jumped? he gushed, equal parts proud and amazed at his own prowess.

And just like that, Henry brought my focus exactly where it needed to be: on him, me, and the snow.

The previous nights snowfall made for soft and forgiving skiing, and before I knew it, wed logged four runs and were heading up for a fifth. As I followed Henry snaking down the hill, I remembered why I love skiing so much: when youre on the mountain, the only thing that matters is the right now. Our junk show of a morning gave way to the quality time with my kid that Id long been coveting.

When I caught up to him, I hugged Henry and tried to express this emotion (call it joy or gratitude if you want), but he was already skiing off, calling out in his wind-chime voice for me to follow him. He didnt want to ponder what was great about our day. He just wanted the day to keep being great. Which meant, naturally, to keep skiing.

And so I did, determined not to get flustered or annoyed with minor delays.

And that was a good thing. Once we reached the lodge, I realized my fancy new bindings were as difficult to get out of as they were to get in. Instead if sighing or swearing, I just unbuckled my boots and stepped out onto the snow in my socks. Embarrassing? A little. But a seemingly fit ending to a funny day. Believe it or not, it left me wanting more.