30’s Thursday: The Old Man in the Mountain


A few years back I rode the chairlift at Waterville Valley, NH with an old guy. He looked to be in his mid sixties, and I was impressed that he was still out there skiing.  On his jacket was a patch that subtly, yet proudly stated “85+”, something I thought nothing of it at first.  We exchanged the common chairlift pleasantries — “how’s your day going?”, “are you on vacation?”, and so on.  When the routine conversation reached the end of it’s lifecycle, I pointed to his patch and asked what “85+” was.   To my amazement, he told me that it referred to his age!  He was in the 85+ and still skiing club!

There I was a 28-year-old prone to complaining about sore knees or a bad back, when a man 3 times my age sat next to me on Waterville’s Quadzilla telling me about a race he had coming up that weekend.  My God.  I had to know what his secret was.  In fact I asked him just that, “My God” I said, “what’s your secret?”  A big grin came over his face, as he looked me dead in the eye and said, “I never stopped.”

“You never stopped what?” I said.  “I never stopped moving,” he said.  He told me of friends he had and friends he’d lost and how for one reason or another they all got old.   They sat for too long behind desks or at bars and they just turned into old men.  His theory is that once you stop being active it’s hard to ever get it back.  You stiffen up for good.

I think of this conversation with that old man on the mountain every year around this time.  It’s been three months since I left Mt. Hood, and I’ve been incubating in an office for too long.  Portland’s rainy season has super-sized my indoor living time and I can feel myself getting stiff.

I tell ya — winter couldn’t have come any sooner.  My early season dips into that frozen fountain of youth have felt good, and I look forward to a long cold season of “moving.”  Hell, I might even get a “30+” patch for my jacket and start my collection early.

12 replies
  1. hollah
    hollah says:

    That is great there is a guy out here in brozeman that is an older fellah that still rips. It’s a great thing to see

  2. NHdude
    NHdude says:

    Hey Preston, you must know about it but even the old man in the mountain met his demise as he collapsed a couple of years ago here…huge bummer…

  3. Preston
    Preston says:

    NHdude –

    Oh I know that all too well . Every time I get an NH quarter back as change I shed an internal tear for that big rocky bastard. Never fun to watch your homeland crumble into the forest…

  4. Fonzie
    Fonzie says:

    ^^ way to take things literally.

    Good post for us young adults to read. There’s actually a few older guys (like 40+) that come through the local terrain park every now and then and hit some of the bigger jumps; it’s inspiring. What’s funny is at 25 to low 30’s, it’s not yet “nice to see” but more so “look at these washed up gapers trying to keep the dream alive” …haha!

  5. jakehuds
    jakehuds says:

    I thought this was gonna be about the rock looking like a old man, turns out it was actually worth reading. Sick. Inspiring. And yes that picture I do see and old man. I love yobeat.

  6. Michelle
    Michelle says:

    I think Preston’s on to something. My dad just got new knees at 75 and was hoping to get back on his skis this winter. He just ruptured his achilles tendon playing tennis a few weeks ago, but so it goes…I think he can keep coming back for more because he keeps coming back.

  7. cptshenanigans
    cptshenanigans says:

    i think i have a tear forming…

    nice story. props to all the old farts still farting down the mountain. when i’m 80 i hope my wrinkly ass can still ride

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