My Turn: Thank you, Squaw Valley |

My Turn: Thank you, Squaw Valley

TRUCKEE, Calif. – Walking through the village at Squaw Valley, you feel positive energy exuding from the air. A child laughs in the distance as her mother tells her child to “stay close!” In this child, I found what many of us have lost: a sense of adventurous change. Many of us live for the hang-time we get flying down KT or Granite Chief, yet we forget the simple beauty of those runs we’ve come to love.

In this child I saw, hope, curiosity, and imagination; a portrait of myself, and many others who grew up to call Tahoe: “home”. Somewhere along the line we lost this. We were filled with excitement when we felt out first frost. Excitement was nurtured into practice when we first sat on that black chair. It squeaked as if to say “Welcome to the rest of your life.” We remember how it felt to fly down Mountain Run at 3 years old and how accomplished we felt when we were given the liberty to ride the mountain alone.

However, in this feeling of pure ecstasy and freedom, something was lost over time. What was beautiful became technical. Suddenly the mountain is viewed as a set of runs and terrain parks. The trees become nothing more than clever obstacles in which to maneuver. The sky shifts in and out of an orange-infused focus, and the air is harsh and cold. What this child gave me, without her knowledge, was the memory of how much the mountain meant to me as a child.

I was reminded of my first ski lesson as a “Squaw Kid” and how proud I was to be one. I remembered the first cliff I dared to jump, and even the old Gondola that opened my eyes to the utter grandeur of Lake Tahoe. These thoughts led to a recollection of the feeling I got when I first moved to Truckee at the age of 6. It was another world: dangerous, beautiful, and surrounded by more natural foliage than I had ever seen.

I remember myself dreaming of one day working for the mountain and being able to pay them back for all of the heartfelt memories they had given me. My dream eventually came true, and when it did, I gained what I had lost. I look at Squaw today, the way I think everyone remembers it as a child: As my babysitter, my friend, my teacher, and most importantly my home.

Thank you Squaw Valley, for all you have done for me and everyone else. Even more so for instilling in me the same curiosity, hope, imagination, and love that you gave me so long ago and that you continue to bestow upon other children to this very day.

Pat Forbes is a Truckee resident.

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