TheBigOutside Blog

Michael Lanza, creator of and Northwest Editor of Backpacker Magazine, writes about hiking, backpacking, climbing, backcountry skiing, paddling and other self-powered outdoor adventures

Is skiing like French fries?

Click. Click. Push off. Glide. Emit sigh of long-repressed, utter joy.

I’ve been anticipating this for a while now—months, actually. I’m on skis for the first time this season. It’s Thanksgiving morning, 13° F, a few flakes bouncing around in the air, and three feet of powder on the ground. I’m heading out by myself in the Boise Foothills and I’m on the clock: I gotta get home to make the potatoes for 12 people for Thanksgiving dinner.

Chris Bondurant skiing Oregon's Wallowa Mountains

But it feels really good to be skiing again. So I find myself rationalizing: There will be about a quarter-ton of food at dinner. I’d be doing everyone a favor to ski longer instead of making potatoes, right? Don’t get me wrong: I’m as thankful as the next person for family, friends, health, cheap gas, blah, blah. I’m just particularly thankful to be skiing.

Of course, I give in to guilt, cruising back down in time to cook—all the while plotting how I’ll squeeze at least three days of skiing into this long holiday weekend. For anyone with a real life, as I definitely sort of have, such calculations essentially entail figuring out what stuff you’re supposed to do that you can get away with blowing off.

And because we live in an age of intense social pressures to live responsibly (oh, to have the late ’70s and early ’80s back again), this makes me wonder: Do I have a problem?

Read the full post and view a photo gallery of skiing pictures, plus see other stories and images of outdoor-adventure trips, as well as reviews of the best outdoor gear, at


1 Comment»

  Jo Ann wrote @

Mike, you have a wonderful problem. I hope you have it until you die. The time will come when you no longer go to work and no one will care if you live responsibly. You won’t spend your retirement stagnating in front of a TV (or whatever electronic marvel exists then). You have a passion for the mountains that will give meaning to your life and will also allow you to eat French fries without guilt.

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