The Agony And the Ecstasy

I hope some of you saw the PBS special fund raiser last Sunday night, Anrdrea Bocelli and the New York Philharmonic in Central Park. As David Foster, one of the guest artists, said. “Stunning!” For me, it was a small, bright light of art and love in this dark time of our country. it was so evident this night that the heart of our country is still there… still courageous, still loving, still giving. And yet we’re being snuffed out by politics, and greed.

The Agony And The Ecstasy

So okay, I know. Yet another snowmobile post.  But probably the last one of the season. (I think…) Why is snowmobiling so important to me, so important to my pals? Why do we all love it so? Many reasons… the incredible natural beauty we ride through every time; the thrills, because there are thrills; sometimes we get to choose them, sometimes not – how we’re feeling at the moment, whether, as my grooming buddy Gene, says, “your sporting blood is up or not;” we continue to challenge each other, even as we challenge ourselves. In those moments, we know exactly who we are, what we’re willing to take on, if we’re still as good as we were last week… maybe better, maybe worse. But the sled, the mountain, the challenge and our will to meet that challenge, is precious… and occasionally brutally honest. Now I ask you, what’s not to love about all that??

Have I succeeded and raised my personal bar? Oh yes. Have I failed, and lowered it again? Yup. Three days ago, I asked my groomer pals to go back to town early; the day had gotten unseasonably warm and the snow up there was getting slushy on top. They were doing okay, but I was struggling with it, and running out of energy in the process. On soft and slushy snow, a sled gets much harder to manage… it can sink down and bury the skis in an instant… the snow basically looks the same, so it ‘s hard to tell when there is a soft spot. The boys told me it was all mental, that I could do it, but we’d been up there only 2-plus hours, and already I was pooped… I was done. So we had lunch up there and came back. For me, a failure, perhaps ending this season on a bad note. But that’s life, after all. I can’t tell where “my sporting blood” is by sitting on my couch every day. Am I disappointed in myself? Absolutely. I’ve done so well, and now this. But does it motivate me to do better, be better? Again, absolutely. And I might well have an entire summer to stew about it.

The Agony

Two years ago, before I had my new sled, I was trying to stretch out, do new things on the old sled. Monty, Mel and Daryl were throwing easy challenges at me. I took one they didn’t give me, up a steep hill and around a small grouping of pines. The pictures below tell the story… I didn’t make it, and broke up the front of my old sled in the bargain. Monty patched it up so I could get down the mountain, and I learned then, what I couldn’t yet quite do.

The Ecstasy

Then, last year, I was able to get a newer aled… a 2002 Ski Doo, with only 500 miles on it. It had more power than my old one, was easier to handle than my old one, but, best of all, the studs on the tracks were longer, helping me to go places my old sled couldn’t go. It gave me a tremendous confidence boost when I first felt what the sled would do. And when I tried things on it that I’d failed to do on the old sled… I succeeded. It was heady stuff. Not that I was as good as my equipment… but I was better.
                                        The Three M’s and Daryl at Cirque Lake

Daryl, his son Monty and Monty’s wife Mel took me on one of the adventures of my life last Spring. It began as a simple little cruise into Arasta Creek, a drainage directly behind this mountain… Old Baldy.

                                                      Ol’ Baldy

We rode into Cirque Lake, my favorite spot,, had coffee, then back out into Arasta and over to Talus Lake, where we played around for a bit. Then Monty and Mel decided we should go up this, this incredible trail they had found to the top of the backside of Baldy Mountain. And so, up they went.
                           See the two small dots below the treeline? that’s them…

They came back down and said, “C’mon. You’re coming up with us.” Well. I wish you could have seen it. For me, it was one of those “no way in hell” moments. But they waved me on and started back up. I don’t understand these things, but something in me hit the throttle and I started up after them. Maybe it was some stupid thought like, “Hey, I got a new sled… I can go anywhere now!”

I was scared, and it wasn’t easy, and I never looked down, to the side, or back, but kept the hammer down and the sled upright, pointed toward the top. Following them up, and continuing to believe they’d never take me where I couldn’t make it… and I made it!

                                   For me, the thrill of a lifetime.


The views from the top…


                                                  I’ve actually been up there.

I want to share with you a few of the things I’ve seen this Spring. Besides my silly mortal challenges within myself and my misplaced machismo, this is what I bring home at the end of my day on the mountain. It sustains me, it grounds me, it renews my sense of beauty and purity, and of what is important to me.















Yes… it’s only snowmobiling. Yes, they can be smelly and noisy. Yes, it’s just another wintertime sport, far less “acoustic” than downhill or cross-country skiing. And yes, The Forest Service and the BLM are slowly closing lands that are public lands, and, until now, have been accessible to us. And, yes, oh yes, snowmobiling has helped me lift myself up and beyond the old man I was fast becoming. I am revitalized, I have new belief in myself, I am no less mortal, but much more spiritually grounded, more appreciative of this amazing world we live in, and appreciative of my friends who continue to show me new and spectacular beauties of this magical place we live in…….. because of snowmobiling.

Steve Hulse

2 Replies to “The Agony And the Ecstasy”

  1. Sounds thrilling, Steve. Great exercose out in the fresh air, in addition to being personally fulfilling. This past weekend I happened to see on PBS GP Tony Bennett Duets 2, which I enjoyed becaise I’m a Tony Bennett fan ( I’m much older than you). And then I saw the Tribute to the Big Band Era (w/John Tesh) – incredibly nostalgic. keep writing………..

  2. This looks absolutely amazing! I went snowmobiling for the first time but it was just on flat land. Going on mountains would be incredible!

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