Growing up in the 1970s and 1980s, every Saturday ABC showed the Wide World of Sports. The iconic beginning of this show declared that sports show the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. They called it the human drama of human competition.
The same can be said about adventure travel. Hiking, canoeing, white-water rafting, and skiing to name just a few, take us out of our comfort zone. Sometimes we see amazing sights we never would have dreamed of seeing like whirling around a hill on a Minnesota cross-country ski trail to find a bull moose right in the middle of the trail. We might find ourselves in a Thai jungle and hear an Asian wild elephant crashing up the trail.
These are stories to cherish for the rest of your life and to bore grandchildren with. Sometimes, however, being in this position does not always lead to that once in a life time experience, or if it does it may not be the most pleasant memory.
I call these not your finest hour moments. Examples from my life include dumping three times while canoeing on the Middlefork of the Vermillion River in Illinois on a cold spring day. Another time was getting sick in the Everglades and hurling over the gunnel of the canoe oblivious that my head was hovering inches from the water where any alligator could have been lurking.
Skiing is especially good at providing not only the agony of defeat, but also those not your finest hour moments. Recently, on a cross-country skiing trip I passed a dude who was going just slightly slower than me. I switched ski lanes and took off. When I felt I was ahead of him enough to get into the right lane, I hopped back into the correct lane. I did not want the skier to have to slow down to accommodate my passing, so as soon as I got into the right lane I went into afterburner mode. Only problem was one of my poles landed directly on my ski, and I fell face first into the snow in front of me and in front of the guy I just passed.
Just this past year, I picked up downhill skiing for the first time in Utah’s Wasatch Mountains outside of Salt Lake City. I picked it up fairly quickly although I took one mighty crash losing one ski and my poles. I later learned the ski term for this maneuver is called a yard sale.
This past weekend I visited Sunburst Ski Area in Wisconsin. Without natural snow the snow was a little icy. On one turn I overcompensated and dug into the snow too much and not only slowed down, but I did a 180 degree turn and my ski fell off. This was on a moderate run in Wisconsin. Then I could not put my ski back on. All these skiers came around the corner to find me in the middle of the run idiotically trying to put my ski back on. It was not my finest hour, and worst of all it is all on video.
Adventure travel not only builds confidence, but it teaches humility. Tell me, what is a not your finest hour moment you have had while traveling? Please share in the comment box.
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Good to see people making mistakes and being able to look back on it. I love the term ‘yard sale.’ I am not a skier – I tried it in college and couldn’t even stand up. I have enough trouble with my own two feet. However, I think all of us can relate when things don’t go the way we planned. You can always look back at the memories and (hopefully) laugh.
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The potential mishaps are part of the adventure travel appeal, no? Interesting….
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They definitely are part of the risk just like losing or making a bad play is part of sports. If you succeeded in everything while adventure travel it would eventually not really be an adventure.
Those poor gators!
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