mt. ellen scenic

An Ode To 3:00 PM Laps

Society is built on the early bird guilting the night owl. You never hear of the night owl catching the worm. And an early bird never seems to the subject matter of nothing good happening after midnight. We praise the early and reprimand the late. Skiing certainly follows that logic. And with good reason to be fair. First tracks on a pow day or groomers ripe with fresh corduroy: those things don’t seem to stick around for the tardy alpine enthusiast.

This writing, however, is not here to praise the early bird. I write this as an anthem to the afternoon skier. Skiing is skiing. And while you may not reap the rewards of first to the trail, I have recognized that there is an acute benefit to ending the day on the hill, even if you didn’t start on it.

As longtime blog followers probably know, I have striven to ski 100 days each of the last several years. I finally accomplished it last season, and I remain in the hunt so far this winter. I wrote about what I learned, but for whatever reason I didn’t touch on one of the biggest impacts skiing 100 days had on me. You see, in the quest for 100 I would often find myself heading out at 3:00 PM or even 3:30 PM to clock in a couple laps. At first impression, it was a slog, and one full of late day icy turns and flat light.

But over a period of time, a newfound appreciation started to percolate. Yes, we’ve all heard that any day of skiing is better than not skiing, but I’ve always felt that saying to be full of self-pandering. This isn’t that. This was a genuine appreciation of the sport, the scenery, and the emotions one feels the second snow pants touch lift chair, regardless of the time of day.

There is an incredible mental benefit just for making it out on the hill at the end of the day. Take for instance, the proper separation of work and home. After hours in the office, the late day laps help me decompress all things PR & Communications Manager before embarking on my next job of father of two. It’s a lovely transition, conditions aside, and especially relevant for someone with a short commute like me where there isn’t enough time for self-reflection. That late afternoon view looking out across the Valley is the perfect scenic soak for my emotional state. No screens, no crowds, no rush for first tracks. Just a man looking out across the topography. I’ve found the healing to be well worth whatever slick sliding I may end up doing.

So I encourage you, yes you, the procrastinating skier, the morning meetings participant, the lethargic mid-afternoon worker…get out there! Who cares if it’s not pristine conditions? These afternoon laps are food for the soul. It only takes a lap or two, and you’ll play participant to the healing process that is 3:00 PM laps. Maybe you’ll see me out there. If you do, come say hey, or perhaps even better yet, enjoy them for yourself.