Biff America: Giving quarter, getting none |

Biff America: Giving quarter, getting none

Jeffrey Bergeron
Biff America

I try to maintain a Zen-like attitude during the busy season, reminding myself that guests are here to have an amazing experience in a place that I sometimes take for granted. Were it not for them, my only employment option would be mining.

Keeping that in mind, I wave folks through intersections. I politely negotiate around families of 20 as they grocery shop, and I lend flashlights and candles to a family renting a Vrbo next door during the rolling blackout.

To be clear, I am not portraying myself as a Mother Teresa. It’s not as if I’m giving these people a couple of my kidneys. I simply do what anyone who lives in a resort community should do: try to be both a good host and maintain one’s sanity. I’ve lived my entire adult life in resorts around the country, and it is a small price to pay.

But all that said, by the time the new year was only a week old, I needed some me time.

I got to the trailhead late in the day and was delighted to see mine was the only vehicle. I picked the location because it is a much less popular cross-country skiing destination due to its remote location and steep, narrow decent. Though I have never timed myself, I would guess the approach and climb is about 90 minutes with a ski down of about a quarter of that. But with the recent snow, what an amazing descent it was going to be.

The stress and frustration melted away as I climbed alone on that cold afternoon. I had earbuds in and listened to a play list titled, “Your favorite songs of 2021” on Spotify. Each song seemed to take me back though the past 12 months of doing things I love. It reminded me that despite 2021 being a year of divisiveness and disease, I had much to be thankful for.

I got to the top of the climb as sun had just sunk below the horizon. I should have put on my headlamp, but I did not want to take the time. Trees lined the dark trail with one track in the middle and deep snow on either side.

I pushed off and began to pick up speed. It’s been said of XC-skiing, “If at times you are on the brink of control, you are doing it right.” I was not going fast by backcountry skiing standards. But on low-cut boots and skinny skis, it felt fast.

When it comes to skiing, there is the letter of the law and the spirit of the law. The skier safety code suggests that downhill skiers have the right of way, and in this case I was the uphill skier. But the spirit of the law suggests that if you are climbing up a steep, narrow trail and someone is coming down on flimsy XC gear, most folks would step off the trail.

Silhouetted about 50 yards down the trail was a skier, head down heading uphill. I gave out a “whoop!” to let him know I was approaching. He did not even look up. At about 25 yards, I did it again. Same result. Where we would intersect, it would be too narrow to pass, but fortunately there was a wide spot about 10 yards above. I cranked a Tele turn off the trail through the deep snow between two trees into the woods. I was a little ticked off. It was a miracle I did not fall.

I did a kick turn to get a look at the bonehead who refused to yield. Turns out it was an adolescent moose. It ignored me as it slowly continued up the trail.

Of course, I could not fault the beast as it was only doing what comes naturally. By the same token, I’m reminded we should also give our fellow humans the same consideration.

With ungulates or humans, we are all just doing the best we can. It is a mistake to assume that most actions are more intentional than instinctual.

It was getting dark, and I had about one-third of the downhill left to enjoy. I dug out my headlamp to light the way. Then I began to wonder if it was still mating season for moose. Since I’m a good-looking guy, I decided to get out of there fast.

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