Monday, March 23, 2015 4:19 PM

Staying Encouraged

Recent news reports have featured an article about very serious mechanical failures of a ski lift at Sugarloaf Mountain in Maine. Allegedly the gear box malfunctioned that impacted the electrical motor causing the lift to suddenly stop and start going backwards.

Wow, does this bring back memories for me...1980. I was at China Peak (yes, it is China Peak now, and was then...in between it was "Sierra Summit") enjoying a beautiful day of skiing with my husband and brother-in-law. Because they were considerably faster than me, on the last few runs, I suggested they do their own thing and I would meet up with them in about an hour.

I had determined to make one more run for the day, and so climb onto the chair lift at the back side of the mountain. It was about 4PM and the lifts closed at 4:30PM. All was going well, the sun was gorgeous, the snow conditions were great as it had stormed the day before, and "life was good" as they say....until...

About half-way up the lift, the chair came to a rather abrupt halt. I immediately assumed it was someone who had fallen trying to get on, necessitating the stop. Customarily, when that happens, within a few minutes you're on your way. But not this time. Fifteen minutes turned into thirty, thirty into an hour, and so-on. After two hours sitting on an idle lift, "official word" finally came to all of us by way of the ski patrol below, that the gears had stripped on the box, rendering it essentially non-functional. 

By the time they "rescued" us from the chair lift, 5 and one-half hours had passed, darkness blanketed the sky, temperatures dropped precipitously, and my legs were aching from trying to keep them from going numb with the weight of the skis and all the other elements and circumstances. The patrol were forced to throw t-bars over the cable to then hoist us down once positioning ourselves squarely on the device.

What did I do that whole time? Kept encouraging myself to: stay calm, don't jump (no kidding...it was tempting and seriously, there were people thinking they could safely land into the powder, but the patrol kept warning this was not an option), I sang as many songs as I knew, prayed, kept moving to keep the circulation going, yelled encouragement to the others, and wondered where my husband and his brother were.

Once down, we had to ski to the bottom of the backside of the mountain, be towed up to the top by a huge snowcat and tow ropes, be put on another lift, and taken down to the lodge backwards!

There's lots more to the story...but all ended well, a few injuries, some minor frost bite and memories for a life time.

I hope that when you face adversity and are challenged, you can "stay encouraged", hopeful, determined, and stronger because of it.