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Everyone dreams of flying at some point in their life. To the people who study such things, it can be an expression of our personal power, a symbol of freedom, or a cry for escape.
But for those of us who love the winter, arcing down powder-covered mountains like angels in the clouds, these kinds of dreams are an annual rite. As natural as the changing leaves or the first smell of woodsmoke, the nighttime reveries spent soaring on our boards are our own internal alarm clock signaling that a greater season is coming, when all the chains of gravity will be released.
In fact, it may be hard to tell the two apart—the liberation of an alpine turn or the possibilities of sleep. They seem to merge together so seamlessly, as similar as an incantation is to a prayer, especially that first cold morning when you wake up smiling and say, “I dreamed of skiing last night.”
But how are they the same, you ask?
1. All Your Friends Are There
Notice how sometimes you dream about someone you haven’t thought of for years, then for weeks they are all you can think about? Skiing is like that. The way every powder day or après beer or cold chair that you share brings some other memory back, especially—the longer you ski— about some friend or family member from the past.
2. You Never Have to Work
Lots of people dream about being late for an exam or wedding or some great date, but nobody dreams about being at the office all night. And no one skis who would rather be working. On the mountain, no one is counting, except maybe how many inches have fallen since morning, or the tally of your laps.
3. You Can Get Really, Really Scared!
Ever run from zombies in a dream? How about getting cliffed out on a sketchy backcountry route while skiing with the “local” you met at the bar the night before? Yes, you really can hear your heart echoing in a tight backcountry chute.
4. You Can Fall Impossibly in Love
Sometimes on the slopes you see a face in the lift line, or ski first tracks on some unattainable line when the conditions are absolutely perfect. Sometimes in your sleep you kiss someone you have never ever met. They are all moments that are gone as soon as you experience them, but leave a lasting imprint.
5. You Have Superhuman Powers
Back to that whole flight thing. Other than dreams and skiing, are there any other venues in your life where you can soar so high, be so free, and move so fast? It makes it hard to sit still just thinking about it. The only thing missing is the cape.
6. You Get Lost
In the trees, sifting through cedars in the snow as the wind blows piles of powder across the slope like hurrying ghosts, you may have no idea where you are, but you know it’s going to work out alright. That same optimism flows through the narrative of your night, traveling across the towns you imagine, or the destination-less trains that you take, all with the knowledge that no matter how far you travel, you’ll always find your way back.
7. Living the Dream
8. You Don’t Want to Wake Up
We have all been there, deep in some magic place or with some special person we don’t want to leave when something or someone abruptly wakes us. And we have immediately tried to go back to sleep in a vain attempt to chase it.
The end of every ski day feels exactly like that.
9. You Are Yourself
When you are skiing, you are exactly who you are—uninhibited, living every moment of motion, glutinous for the brief chance to be active on the ever-changing elements of the earth. How is this not dreaming?
10. The Lucid Subconscious
But the main reason people dream of skiing is because, just like dreaming, being on the snow puts you in an alert subconscious state. Your mind retreats to a relaxed focus where you just read the mountain and ride the arcs, forever diving into an endless realm of possibilities and adventures with every turn and every breath. And when you find yourself in that state, moving faster than your conscious mind would ever allow, you will never want to wake.