Get me out of this car. Here I was, in route to what was probably going to be one of the most exciting trips of my life. Ten hours, in a five person truck, with my mother, father and younger brother, driving through the middle-of-no-where snow-covered wilderness in upstate New York, with zero cell service, no radio signal, and a dead iPod. The destination? The legendary Whiteface Mountain.
Whiteface, located on NY-86, just 15 minutes northwest of the small town of Lake Placid is the home of two winter Olympic games, including the famous 1980 “Miracle on Ice” men’s hockey game. This trip was a big deal to me, as I would be snowboarding the same mountain where champions were crowned, dreams were fulfilled, and legends were made. All of this history was fascinating to me, but at the same time, being just a recreational snowboarder, I couldn’t help but be panicked that I would make a total and complete fool out of myself.
Even though I was beside myself with excitement when we left my home, around three in the afternoon, I wasn’t too pleased to still be driving at one in the morning. But, the minute the car rounded the final bend, the whole town seemed to magically appear before our eyes, in all of its majestic glory, immediately making the long trip worth every nanosecond. Driving down the two lane main street, I couldn’t help but fall immediately in love with the quaint, alpine-inspired buildings, the twinkling stringed lights adorning the rooftops, and the sense of serenity that the whole town seemed to emanate from its core.
Just a few hundred feet from the Olympic Center, our hotel, the Crown Plaza Resort sat on top of its own hill, overlooking the lake and town. It was an impressive piece of architecture. It was a naturally simple theme, with its hewn log siding and timber beams, blending effortlessly into its surroundings. The inside was gorgeously decorated in the same manor. It was scrumptiously clean, and it felt wonderful being able to walk into the room and having the feeling of being home.
The next morning, we were off early to get to the mountain. Once there, I couldn’t believe the size of that monstrosity. Its sheer size stunned me. The 3,166 foot vertical drop was a big step up from the 500 I was used to. Even though I was scared witless, I love a challenge. I could already feel the adrenaline surge and my heart pulsating in anticipation. I was ready.
The day flew by, with me accomplishing more than I could’ve ever imagined–traversing near vertical slopes, riding next to ledges with sheer drop-offs, carving through fresh powder, flying off jumps, and tearing down straight-aways with blinding speed, this is what I came for, breathed for, lived for. The wipeouts came as expected, but one look from the top made up for every cut, scrape and bruise. I will never forget the feeling of being so high up you felt you could touch the sky.
All too soon, the time came to leave and return back to Michigan. Looking out the back window of the truck, searing into my mind the sight of the town, I couldn’t help but think about how much I had experienced over the past three days, and how much I had learned about myself. Even though the going might get tough, I learned I could persevere, rise up to face the challenges, and above all, succeed.