Deutschlandsberg to Rijeka. Rijeka to Trieste. Trieste to Venice. Venice to Florence. After an utter failure of my plan to travel on the overnight train from Vienna to Italy, I was left with no other option than to return to Florence through Croatia – and I had no complaints there. A very long and very chaotic 36 hours of traveling concluded a week of skiing in the Austrian Alps.
Reunited with familiar faces and friends, I spent a week in Deutschlandsberg, Austria working at the Ski Camp for Camp California. It warmed my heart to catch up with friends and see everyone thriving in their “real lives” outside of our bubble in Pakoštane.
We were graced with beautiful weather. Crystal clear skies overlooked the slopes and snow-covered pine trees framed the mountains. There is such beauty in nature this grand. The panoramic view of layered mountains, white snow, and massive skies takes your breath away. The view also reminds me why I love the seasons. The warmth of the sun and the cool water of the sea in the summer are a different type of beauty than snow-capped mountains and chilly days of winter. Both equally as beautiful.
My previous skiing experience only consisted of Mt. Sunapee in New Hampshire with a dear old friend of mine. By no means did I start the week a skilled skier ready for the Alps. Yet, following my new outlook on life, fear and uncertainty cannot prohibit me from living. So with a wonderful Austrian instructor named Heidi, and with moral support from fellow novice skiers, I graduated from the mountains in New Hampshire to the intermediate courses on the Austrian Alps.
It was exhilarating. After conquering every steep decent or icy patch, I smiled from my success and from not falling. It is our mind that faults us. When we over-think a movement, a choice, or a feeling, we destroy the purpose and outcome. If I thought about how high up I was, or how steep the slope was, or how I could hurt myself, then I would not have been able to go down that mountain. So if I was on the top of the slope with the wind whipping my face and cold biting my lips and these fears crept up on my mind, I simply sang the Jamaican Bob-Sled team song and bolted down that mountain. I trusted my body and cleared my mind.
We developed our technique as much as we could in a week, challenged ourselves with harder courses and raced each other in the end. After six hours of skiing every day for a week, I was thoroughly exhausted by the end of it. Our nights revolved around the traditional activities from the summer and sharing stories with old and new friends.
The ski camp serves has a halfway mark between their goodbyes at the final campfire last summer and the new session of friends and play that is awaiting them in six months. It is a week where friends can reunite and reminisce.
I am so grateful that I was invited to join the Ski Camp. I was able to see old friends, make new connections, visit a new country, and brush up on my skiing. Once again, my choice to go to Croatia has left me with another wonderful experience and more incredible friends.
I celebrated my new year in Austria, surrounded by people whose hearts were filled with joy, innocence, and happiness. There was no better way to enter the new year nor in a more beautiful location.