My weeklong ice climb

I expected to be surprised by Maine’s trees. But I was surprised that I couldn’t get any.

Along the coast north of Brunswick, the woods of the Northeast, Maine’s wilderness, are green at either end. I heard, from people who had made a cross-country ski excursion of it, that the gradient was steep. I didn’t know that white snow was more difficult to ski than tan snow. The color blind could double down on the whiteness. It didn’t matter. I could ski faster on the more white snow.

I’m the one to be surprised. I tried harder. I tried harder. I stayed away from the lone snowball-throwing and make-out-in-the-rain sites on the way back, but at other times, I did pick up a new trick: If I tried an uphill uphill angle, the tail end of the ski ran parallel to the ground. I grew more adept at tobogganing, climbing rocks, weaving in and out of the traffic on Route 24, and whirling around curves to extract the lost few miles from behind. I’m the one to ski slow-motion uphill without difficulty. I’m the one who’s capable of dealing with tiny streams and roaring waterfalls to find the next lonely spot to take a picture.

I always go into each new experience with the sense that maybe I could have done things a little different, a little faster, or a little safer. I know that if I sprinted away from some icy field, I might have skied faster, and that if I had held my line instead of traveling off guard, I might have stayed close to the trail. I couldn’t tell, however, whether or not I’d stayed near enough to the trail. Not on any of my trips. Most of the time, I didn’t notice. Perhaps that’s the point.

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