Recently I went snowmobiling with my husband at the Kachess Road Sno-Park here in Washington. It was my second time snowmobiling. I’ve blogged about it, and my mixed emotions about the environmental impact, before. But, still, what a blast.
I love being out in the wilderness, and with this COVID-19 pandemic, it suits me just fine to be dozens of miles away from civilization. And the conditions were perfect. The paths had been groomed just before we got there, and it was a sunny day. It was obviously cold, and we were riding on about 24 inches of snow, but we were equipped properly, and it was a glorious day all around.
I was really rather proud of myself on this second ride. We did 26 miles, and I was able to go faster than the first time, and we got to some locations that most humans will never get to see. When we weren’t tooling around on the paths or playing around in the large, hilly bowl that is kind of snowmobile nirvana, we were sitting there in the quiet, taking in the gorgeous views. Lakes, waterfalls, mountains and valleys galore. Check out the photos and video below.
I was really starting to get why people are addicted to adrenaline. I was feeling like Superwoman out there, speeding along with a powerful engine beneath me, whipping through switchbacks, hitting bumps and (I think) catching air a time or two, with a rooster tail of snow behind me. What a rush. I never wanted it to end.
That is, until I did. Ah, hubris.
I was following my husband up a ridge with steep drop-offs on either side. I don’t really do well with heights, but at this point I was feeling pretty invincible. I was carpe-ing the hell out of that diem!
Then, one of my snowmobile skis hit a rut and jerked my steering wheel sharply to the right. That made me panic and grip the steering wheel even harder, which was the worst possible thing to do because the accelerator is, of course, on the hand grip.
You know that feeling when you’re poised at the very top of a roller coaster? This wasn’t that feeling at all. There was no excitement, no anticipation. Just sheer terror.
The next thing I knew, I was plunging about 50 feet down a 60 degree decline, going what felt like about a million miles an hour. That, I probably could have handled, except for the fact that at the bottom of the decline was a 60 degree incline. I loved geometry in school, but I was rather busy, so I wasn’t going to calculate that angle, but I can tell you it was pretty effing acute. The entire situation was acute. I was sure I was going to crash into the rapidly approaching hillside, fly over my handlebars, and die.
It’s really amazing how things go into slow motion when you think you’re about to cash it in. The whole experience probably took less than 2 seconds, but I remember distinctly every single thought that went through my head as I screamed and employed a lot of expletives. First of all, of course, was the image of me breaking my neck, and the anticipation of the excruciating pain and then nothingness that I was convinced I was about to undergo. Then I thought about how badly it would suck to die on the second anniversary of the day we started dating, and how wonderful these past two years have been. And then I got very sad, because we’re just getting started and I really don’t want it to end. Not yet. Not any time soon. And then, oddly enough, I thought, “Well, at least I won’t have to deal with COVID-19.”
Then, just like that, I was at the top of the incline that I thought was going to be my undoing. I have no recollection of the ascent. I was too busy bracing for impact. I have no idea how my snowmobile managed to get up there. Somehow it defied geometry and physics, and I was alive.
But I wasn’t out of the woods yet. My snowmobile was tilted very sharply to the right, and I was sure that it was going to roll any second. So I turned off the engine and carefully got off of it and stood out of its path, waiting for my husband.
The wait seemed like an eternity, but in reality it probably wasn’t more than 15 seconds. He keeps a close eye on me. He was out front, so he didn’t see my death plunge, and couldn’t hear anything over his engine, but he quickly figured out that I was no longer behind him. Naturally he turned around and came back. I got to watch him ride along the ridge, right past me, because he wasn’t expecting to find me on a completely different hilltop. But he then saw me and made his way over via a much safer route.
Miraculously, I wasn’t hurt at all, and neither was the snowmobile. My husband hugged me and said he was proud of me. But I felt like a total idiot, and I was seconds away from losing it. I knew that if I sat down in the snow and burst into tears like I desperately wanted to do, the rest of the day would be ruined, and we had been having so much fun.
So I breathed deeply, and kept repeating to myself that I was alive. Alive. Alive. We slowly made it down off that hill. And lest we forget, we were still far, far away from the parking lot, so I had no choice but to press on.
My confidence was pretty shattered. I did sniffle a bit in my closed helmet, as we proceeded on less ambitious trails. My husband showed me a lake and a waterfall. He let me take things at my own pace. Snowmobiles do require a certain speed so as not to overheat though, so at one point he passed me and that encouraged me to speed up a bit. I was able to do that. That felt like an accomplishment.
It really was a wonderful day, despite the adrenaline rush and the dance with death. It really was. And I genuinely do look forward to going again.
So, yeah, that happened.
When all is said and done, I was grateful for the reminder of how good my life is. I hope I never take that for granted. Life is so incredibly precious.
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