It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon on the last day of February at Gore. Everything felt good. Everything felt under control. After several feet of fresh snow, the slopes were in excellent shape.
My ski companion, Gary Pless and I had just gotten off the new quad lift at the top of Burnt Ridge Mountain and had a decision to make - a run down one of the familiar trails (either Echo or Sagamore), or have an adventure and look for the short trail that connects with Twister to bring us back to the triple chair at the base lodge. It looked like an easy ski and we headed off down the trail.
We came across some advanced student skiers with their instructor, who were all about to ski through the trees via the Tahawus Glades. These glades lead north to Tahawus, a beautiful "blue square" trail on the mountain's north side, recently opened up because of the substantial fresh snow.
Just beyond the glades skiers, we came to a roped-off area (likely the new connector to Twister), and a trail that went off into the woods. Skiers coming out of the woods on this trail stated in no uncertain terms that we could not ski the wrong way on this trail. The only way to get back down to the base lodge was to either remove our skis and walk back up to the top of the Burnt Ridge lift, or ski through the Tahwaus Glades.
I have been skiing for about eight years and I have purposely avoided all glades, which tend to attract really good skiers.
When we decided to head down through the Tahawus Glades, panic began to wash over me - this glades thing was something completely new and scary for me, but not for Gary. We began to follow the tracks of previous skiers and the view was beautiful, but I was a little terrified.
I soon found out why glades have a black diamond label - trees were everywhere. Once en route, the commitment was made. While Gary headed nimbly off through the trees with no problem, I made little short sweeping S-shapes between the trees, stopping to catch my breath, getting my bearings, then continuing.
Finally, I met Gary at the end of the glades and the bottom of the Tahawus Trail. I was exhausted, but thoroughly pleased with myself for having skied, unscathed, through a real glades. It was a great feeling, and made the rest of the day of skiing all the nicer. I did not, however, accidentally or otherwise find myself skiing down any more glades trails that afternoon.
My lesson for the day: try something new and maybe even a little risky, something that challenges you. It's good to push the envelope.
Mike Corey is a contributing writer to the News Enterprise.