After the last ice age, hunters in remote regions of what we now call China, strapped long pieces of spruce wood to their furry boots. They attached horsehide to the bottoms to help them gain traction as they maneuvered uphill on slick surfaces. With a purpose to hunt elk to sustain their villages through the winter, they traveled in small groups into the snowy mountains.
Though their purpose for skiing differed from our modern one, perhaps we share a timeless sentiment that Jordi touches on in his writing:
Grateful for the accumulation of snow this winter, Lake & Park students and educators set aside three Wednesdays in January and February to visit Crystal Mountain.
We awoke and arrived to school early on each of these days to make the two hour journey away from Seattle and into the Cascade Mountains. We passed time on the bus with puzzles, books, songs, rounds of “20 questions” and counting bald eagles. At Crystal, the children were divided into small groups of mixed-age peers and sent into the snow with knowledgeable and playful ski and snowboard instructors.
Following the guidance of their instructors the children learned how to balance, how to go, how to stop and how to safely ride a chairlift. Aside from developing the knowledge and specific skills necessary to direct a pair of skis or snowboard down a snowy mountain, our days at Crystal Mountain were filled with such rich moments of discovery.
We built confidence and self-reliance through overcoming fears
“The thing that surprised me at Crystal Mountain was that I skied down the steep hill without falling over. And that I made it to the carpet without falling…” – Ken
“I was surprised when I went off a jump because I didn’t know I was going so high.” -Finn
“I was scared to go on the gondola. I felt air! But it was fun.” -Ardin
We learned to enjoy the challenge that comes with pursuing a new physical endeavor
“I was surprised when my teacher asked me to do jumping jacks on skis! Snow kept spraying in my face.” -Keira
“The most memorable moment was when my skis popped off and I flew into a pile of snow and tasted it.” – Liam
We enjoyed the company of and leaned on our friends for support
We paused to enjoy our natural surroundings
“The feeling of the wind and the sun and the snow felt good.” -Leah
“Up on the chairlift, ice and snow blow.
Sometimes if you are careful
The snow will feel warm.”
“Snow feels like glistening
white crystalized water
slipping through your
“In the silver mountains a skier flies
through the midnight black shade.”
We departed with hopes and dreams for future adventures
“I hope that next time I can ski backwards down the whole hill.” – Harper
“I hope we can go on a bigger chairlift next time.” -Ian
Before departing the mountain after our final lesson, we all boarded the gondola and floated to the summit at 7,002 ft. Blue sky greeted our arrival and framed a striking Mt. Rainier that sat majestically just across the valley. As Rose said, “I could see all the other mountains in the Cascades!”