I don’t have pictures of a lot of the truly exciting or fascinating things about Patrol. Sometimes, that’s because I was caught up in doing it and there was no time for a camera. Sometimes, it’s because I didn’t have the cameraphone on me, or it was too cold for the cameraphone to work, or it was too damn cold to even think about taking off a glove and unzipping to get the cameraphone out in the first place.
Hence, much of the beauty or interest of the job is missed to the lens. But it’s never missed.
Weird people patrol, I find.
A friend who goes to lots of National Ski Patrol events reports that patrollers are uniformly weird and even repetitively weird: Every patrol has their Angry Dragon, their Bagel, their Girl Hands, their Stallion, etc. Their me. Like family, we don’t always get along or agree. But there are a few things about which we never disagree: The job. The amazing beauty of the world we work in. The pure happiness of sliding on snow.
This job has changed the course of my life. That might be more than lots of us can say, but most of us would say something similar. It has been good for us. It provides those who patrol with an anchor and a second home. Sometimes, it’s simply a place to go that isn’t home. For some, for a time, it’s the only home. For others, it has itself become the course of their lives: they become full-time, year-round professionals.
There are guys and gals on my unit who have been patrolling this hill for more than 50 years. That’s more than tenure. They are become this place; they are the neighborhood; they are the Mountain.
I won’t be one. Sooner or later I’ll be somewhere else. But I’m glad they’re here, and will be.