"Well", I thought, "this is it. This is the last tubbing of the year/decade/century/millenium*"
These were my thoughts as I trudged up the snow field about a quarter mile east of our cabin. I was on 253 of about 610 paces (I had made a rough observation of how many steps it took me to get from the bottom of the snow field to the Great Aspen near the top several days earlier).
"This is the last run of the century." But I couldn't help but feel disappointed.
"Where were the lights, the music?" I thought, "The media coverage? This is the Big Event. The Last Run."
I was hiking in pitch blackness about 5 paces behind Tubber 55, Mark Dallon. We only had the narrow pools of light cast from our small headlamps to help us see the next pace or two in front of us.
Earlier that evening we had walked up an old logging road, left mostly unmaintained except by ATV riders. The lower half mile or so was steep but in generally good condition, and the few inches of snow that had fallen since early November had filled in the puddle ruts and small streamlet beds on the road left from summer torrents.
Since it hadn't snowed since probably early December, the trail was well packed with snowmobile and ATV traffic, assuring us a ride with as little friction as possible.
While this would, either during daylight hours or during my younger years, be considered "fun," it was now unsettling at best.
I had come up several days earlier that week with some acquaintances to spend an evening at the cabin and introduce the kids to tubbing. I made the mistake of taking our first run in the dark on the lower logging road.
The lower logging road is totally reckless--even in the daytime; but I had forgotten this in the year I hadn't been down it.
The snowmobiles dropped us off near some arbitrary point and we let loose. It was one of those runs where you just have to trust your tub to Do the Right Thing.
Not only was the trail steep, it was also full of hairpin turns and hearty trees along the edge of the trail which probably couldn't have cared less had we hit them.
I took a rookie with me that night and I thank my lucky stars I don't have a lawsuit on my back.
Now, Mark and I are hauling down this low-friction incline and we say to ourselves, "Hey, let's hit The Jump." So we hit it.
As my pancreas rebounded off my liver and smashed into my left lung, I said to Mark, who was recovering from his landing, "That was not a good landing." I had not been so internally bruised since taking a 20- foot drop on Mount Kessler into cement-like snow.
"Wheee," said Mark softly.
After several more runs, in which we avoided the jump altogether, we decided we'd had enough entertainment and walked back to the cabin.
Now we're slowly trudging up this snow field, illuminated only by our headlamps and I'm thinking to myself, "Is this how I want to remember the first century of tubbing?"
We finally reached the Great Aspen, and then pushed a few hundred paces more to Big Doug, the stately Douglas fir at the upper perimeter of the snow field.
As we hid away our wet gloves and put our overcoats and heavy mits on for the decent, I told Mark what I was feeling. He told me that he didn't believe too much in Big Events anymore. To him, life is chiefly a series of many small normal events all linked together in a big chain. When looked at collectively, big accomplishments can be seen, but there are rarely Big Events.
Then I realized what was bumming me out. I was looking at this last run as the Last Run. This was to be the Run that epitomized all other runs and was to be the culmination of the best we had accomplished. But this was not to be.
I saw this run for what it was; this was the last run of the century, yes, but it is merely one run in a thousand I had already taken, and the first of a thousand more I hope to take next century. The thousand runs together make up what is great about tubbing and enjoying the life we'd had so far and this run only needed to be, for me, another time to spend close to the snow in happiness.
Alright, cut the violins--sorry for the sap, guys. But it was a learning moment for me at the top of the snow field under Big Doug. We then began our run which incidentally turned out to be as good as it always is when the snow is deep enough and soft enough and quiet enough. Another good run.