LIKE A BAT OUT OF HELL

Powder - - POSTHOLE -

I was sur­prised to see a pic­ture of my­self right on your front page (“Where Ev­ery­thing Makes Sense,” 47.1). I’m the snow-cov­ered skier on the chair­lift at Alta. At first I wasn’t sure, but then I saw my same boots, bind­ings, gloves, jacket, gog­gles, even the bent rental poles—one striped with black duct tape. The In­tro was a great read, evok­ing the shit-eat­ing-grin-in­duc­ing feel­ings we’ve all had sit­ting on the chair­lift get­ting nuked on. I par­tic­u­larly liked the bit about the sheer hap­pen­stance, con­sid­er­ing the story that got me to that chair­lift in Alta was any­thing but.

I had been on an end­less road trip, chas­ing storms from Ta­hoe to Jack­son. But it was a dry win­ter and even­tu­ally, ev­ery­where I went was slick brown ice and I re­treated far­ther south and east, into the desert, skis cov­ered in sad red dust, un­used on my roof racks.

Even­tu­ally I found my­self in New Or­leans, chas­ing bro­ken dreams with whiskey shots. My money was dry­ing up, and I was wondering what to do next. Then I checked my phone. Big storms were mov­ing through the West. Sev­eral feet of snow­fall was ex­pected ev­ery­where.

I got back in my car and drove out of the swamp like a bat out of hell, catch­ing a speed­ing ticket as I said say­onara to Louisiana. All through the night, eye­lids droop­ing, pound­ing gas sta­tion cof­fee, stop­ping only to re­fill and re­fill and how many times have I stopped for gas now? It was day and night and day again, and the only thing I could taste was burnt, shitty cof­fee. Thirty hours of straight driv­ing and I pulled into Salt Lake City. My tires had started to bald on the drive, and the half-bro­ken lit­tle Subaru skid­ded its way through the thick fall­ing snow to the Park and Ride at the base of Lit­tle Cot­ton­wood Canyon.

I woke up buried. I strug­gled to get the car door open and got my first face shot of the day as a foot of snow emp­tied off the roof. Fast for­ward a few hours of sit­ting on the bus through un­godly traf­fic up the canyon, buy­ing a pass, wait­ing in the week­end pow­der day lift line, and there I am, as cap­tured, obliv­i­ous to me. Gone were the thoughts that had plagued me all through the desert: What the hell am I do­ing out here? Why am I home­less, drift­ing around the coun­try alone in my rapidly de­te­ri­o­rat­ing car, hem­or­rhag­ing the money I saved up all sum­mer? Am I crazy? All that was there was the an­tic­i­pa­tion, the sheer breath­less am-i-ac­tu­ally-right-here-right-now, can’t-stop-laugh­ing­like-a-mad­man joy of be­ing alive, out­side on top of a moun­tain in the puk­ing snow with two planks strapped to my feet. And then I got off the chair­lift and pointed my­self down the hill, and I skied. Zack Sk­lar

Bend, Oregon

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