Reminder of a Great Memory:
In late February, I stood inside Jonathan’s Photo Warehouse, sweating profusely from the 5 kilometer walk in the warm, New Zealand summer sun. However, I managed to ignore the droplets of perspiration rolling down my face, distracted by the slow service and inefficiencies of conducting business in this country. After a long wait, I told the print shop employee the name of my order and he left to retrieve it. He returned with a confused look on his face and said “Only one wee photo, aye? You do know that you have to pay for 5 photo prints regardless?” I said thank you and explained to him that I only wanted this one photo. “Good on you then, cheers!” he replied as I exited the store.
Too excited to wait, I pulled the picture out of the sleeve. A smile came across my face and a feeling of relief permeated through my body. This was followed by a feeling of self-consciousness for loving a photo of myself so much. But the appeal has nothing to do with me. I’m not looking at the camera, and my face and body look exhausted from the big hike I had just done to get to the top of this mountain pass. The background scenery is covered with low clouds and doesn’t even give justice to the real beauty of Teton Pass. But when I look at this picture, its not what I actually see that I love but rather how I remember feeling in that very moment.
Leading to That Moment:
I had just returned from a road trip from California to Colorado, skiing at 5 ski resorts along the way with my best friends. I had 5 hours at home to eat, do laundry, re-pack and get some sleep before I was picked up in the early morning for my next adventure to Jackson, Wyoming. I hopped in the car with two other Backcountry Club members who I had never met before en route to northern Wyoming at the beginning of an encroaching snow storm. After 16 hours of driving, multiple highway closures and dead ends, we finally gave up on our objective and opted for a pitcher of beer and pizza. We spent that night crammed in the back of the mini van, laughing like we had known each other for years.
The Best Day of My Life:
This photo was taken on our first day of ski touring after we met up with the group. My group of four was extremely energetic and enthusiastic to be doing something we loved on a beautiful day in one of the most beautiful places. We were touring up Teton Pass just outside of Jackson, Wyoming. We decided one stretch right before the top of the pass that the avalanche risk was higher and it would be safest to cross this portion one at a time. As I emerged on the other side of the ridge, breathing hard and muscles on fire, I was exposed to the other side of the pass. At this moment, it was as if all the happiness of the past weeks filled me at once.
I began to laugh and cry simultaneously. In that moment and the rest of the day, week, and month I felt appreciation for everything. I was appreciative to go to school near such beautiful places, let alone go to school at all. I was appreciative of every moment in my life that brought me here. There are so many people in this world who could never dream of owning a pair of skis, let alone taking an entire month to drive travel this country with no purpose other than climbing mountains and skiing them.
A Fleeting Moment:
My friends passed right by me. They were so unaffected by this moment that was so momentous to me. I took a deep breath, pulled myself from my temporary trance and joined them for a snack. I held onto that feeling for the rest of the day, and every day since.