20150320_105147It was a great weekend.

Zeke and I headed up to Stowe to make some turns with Spaulding Adaptive Sports Centers and their Boston-based alpine ski program, which we’ve partnered with this winter. Stowe was the site of their 6th and final trip (prior trips included Cannon, Loon, Bretton Woods, Pico and Waterville Valley). So we decided to head up.

I grew up skiing and racing at Stowe. It was my home mountain. Since my injury, I have only skied there a handful of times. My memories from Stowe are woods trails, old ski friends and skiing off the Gondola. More on that later.

So I took Friday off from work (I’m a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner) to go up to Stowe a day early and ski without the crowds. What I got was a classic VT ski day.

IMG_0669 (2)I saw friends from all stages of life, including Shelly, my best childhood ski friend, as well as new friends I’ve met by virtue of now being in the incredibly supportive spinal cord injury community. One of those guys is Jordan, one of the KBF’s first and coolest grant recipients, who was injured less than a year after me.

The biggest adventure of the day was the Gondola. Neither Jordan (who also grew up riding at Stowe) nor I had been back up that lift since our injuries in 2006. Think about it, it requires clicking off your skis, shuffling through the line and walking into the cabin. Not only can we not click out of the ski, we don’t have our wheelchairs to get in and out (and that don’t fit in the cabin anyway). For the typical monoskier skiing with only a friend or two, there’s no way to get in.

Somebody joked about it, but we just looked at each other and said “why not, let’s give it a try.”

OneTop of Stowe Gondola thing you get used to in a monoski is a lot of awkwardness, albeit well-intentioned, from lift attendants (and people in other service positions, come to think of it…). These guys were cool. We pulled up to the ski school line and pushed our way onto the rubber mats inside the building. Our group started clicking us out of our skis and, lifting from the back and front of our monoskis, putting us into individual gondolas.

It was pretty emotional for me sitting up at the top. I don’t get surprised often by things I miss from before my injury. And I don’t generally consider my injury to be an impediment to what I want to do. I guess I was surprised that such an awesome experience was right there and I never bothered because of the hassle. A lesson learned.

The next day we went back up to Stowe to ski with the formal Spaulding program. We skied with another ripping Kelly in GondolaKBF grant recipient from the area, Cleary (who ripped the bumps on Hayride…). Also met some awesome new monoskiers in the Spaulding Program.

And of course, we hit the Gondola again. Being out there with friends, that’s what it’s all about.

– Kelly