Playing Hooky - Alex Taran Reminisces About A Winter Adventure With Her Companion Valentine

Words by Alex Taran -

I would not quite call it “playing hooky.” Yet there I was 4 hours from my adult responsibilities, two skis under my feet, trudging slowly uphill. While my dog Valentin reassured me this was the best decision I could ever make, I knew that most people in my pre-med program would never do this.

4 hours earlier I sat there at my computer trying to justify why I should not take the leap, why I needed to be responsible. Going to Tahoe at 9 am on a Friday was not only late, but irresponsible....Right? I was unsure.

It had been dumping for weeks without much break, I had been studying for weeks without much break. In the end I couldn't do it, I couldn't just sit there. I knew what my soul needed. I grabbed a pair of Nomads, a pair of Maidens, and my “go bag“ (yes I have a bag ready at all times with what I need to go touring) and threw them in the truck, opened the door for the dog, and followed him in. I turned the ignition and started driving towards the Sierra Nevadas.

As we neared snow line Valentin knew, he stared out the window, crying and did not shift his gaze, until the moment when I let him out. He ran, rolled, and ate snow. It was so deep I could just see only his furry head sticking out, until he started bounding and his body would momentarily appear before sinking back into the snow. He didn't worry about what he was supposed to do or feel.

We started walking uphill, and I was still unsure. Was I playing hooky? Was this wrong. At first I had to keep telling myself “No its alright, you made sure you did your lab before, you have gone through all the problems in the chapter... this is okay!” I couldn't shake the feeling though.

Amidst a battle my mind, I continued to put one foot in front of another, and the treeline started to drop further and further below the skin track. As we crested over the ridge the wind whipped my face, and snowy landscape once hidden by trees and ridgline came into view. My worry finally dissipated.

This is where I am supposed to be. This is not “playing hooky”, this is sanity maintenance. Here, now, with this furry thing, this wind, this snow, these skis. This is me and this is just perfect. The snow blowing off the ridges started to turn gold as the sun lowered in the sky, I ripped my skins, and turned to Valentin.

“You wanna go skiing?”
He started to bound through deep snow, downhill.
I took a breath, looked around, and answered my own question. “me too, dog, me too.”

Alex Taran is a long time Icelantic athlete with a wide range of life experience, especially as a skier. There was an era when you would see her holding it down as one of Snowbird's elite ski patrollers, red locks a blazin', not taking any shit whatsoever from the men she worked with. There was also an era when you had to travel to the southern hemisphere to catch up with Alex as Chile is a place very close to her heart where she brought avy beacons to those who had none. Alex is proud to say that she can actually say more expletives in Spanish than English... and one day she may be your MD as she is now in the pre-med phase of aspiring to become a doctor. 


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