I don't think too much about what happens once he gets up to the Pass. I don't do snow sports, so I can't relate to, or even visualize, much of what he describes about this sport he loves so much. I know he would never go without a helmet; I know he doesn't do crazy jumps and I know he always stays "in bounds", not taking off into uncharted, forbidden parts of the mountain. There is risk, but he seems to mitigate it and have fun.
So, it's the highway I fear and last Monday was no exception. He and Son-Two were looking forward to a day of "powder", relishing the 19 inches of newly fallen snow they would find at the Pass. And they did. They were having a grand time, as I understand it, until Hub hit a tree. Thwack!
He hit it hard. Really, really hard. Because he goes fast. Because he loves finding powder off the groomed runs and in the less-traversed areas. He loves maneuvering his board with speed and grace, finding peace, beauty, challenge, thrill, and utter mindfulness of the moment as he plots his course through stands of trees and down the mountain.
But last Monday he hit a hidden clump of hard ice buried under that fresh powder, which threw him off his carefully planned trajectory and into the trunk of a tall fir tree. Son-Two was nearby and heard the sound of his dad's chest hitting the tree, saw him fall, saw him lie motionless.
Hub felt himself hit the tree. Felt his ribcage collapse inward. Felt pain shoot through his upper body. Felt the breath whoosh out of his mouth, none coming in to replace it.
He lay still, consciously and carefully assessing the possible damage. He caught his breath and was able to tell Son-Two he was "OK". He considered possible broken ribs, a broken sternum. He assessed for shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea. He stood and tried to move around a bit. Pain. Stiffness. But breath came naturally, heartbeat was fairly regular, no light-headedness. Nothing life threatening. He was grateful that he had no collapsed lung or a severed aorta. Only a physician would have the presence of mind, after a dramatic accident, to start the systems review and diagnostic analysis that led him to determine he could make it down the mountain without assistance.
He descended slowly, traversing his way to the bottom, then to the parking area. Son-Two drove the dangerous highway home. I was in the kitchen when they arrived, and heard as they came through the door, "Dad hit a tree…he's OK."
He was stiff and sore for a few days, but declared he was better by mid-week, when he started packing for his 4-day Idaho trip with 3 other buddies to go skiing and boarding…again.
I would have taken to my bed for a month and stayed away from the sport for the rest of the season -- maybe forever. I guess I'm a Drama Queen that way. But not Hub….he's in amazing physical condition and has a "keep on with it" attitude about most things, so he was ready to go again within a week of his collision, even though he finally surmised he might actually have a cracked rib in there.
I've been watching bits of the Sochi Olympics this week and they are fine athletes all, but I have my own almost 64-year old Olympian in the family, traveling a dangerous, but exhilarating path to golden glory. May the Force always be with him.
At least, that's the view from here… ©