Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Memorial

A friend of mine was visiting Breckenridge last week to go skiing with some buddies. We thought it would be awesome if he stopped by the tree I hit to deliver a special payload: some of my broken ankle hardware from my fibula.

He hand crafted a laminated memorial and found the tree using the Google map I made in one of my first posts to this blog. I was worried that the tree I had marked on the map wasn't the right one, but as soon as I saw these pictures, I recognized the beast that destroyed my right leg.

Friends, family, meet the Tree of Death.

This is one of the snowboarders on my friend's trip, reacting my accident. This is exactly how it happened.

Here's the memorial. My friend's story follows. With exception to his zings and snowboarder-hating, the story is pretty awesome.
Here's how the day went down. It was our first day of skiing in Colorado, after having arrived on Wed. night. Our plan was to hit Breck on Thurs, Vail on Friday, and Copper on Sat. (Vail, btw, was absolutely epic. We received 8 inches of fresh snow Thurs night and the Eisenhower tunnel was closed Fri morning (thus preventing visitors from Denver) and on top of that, we were joined by a Vail guide that one of us happened to be friends with ... Ok, I digress. I'll cease the bragging since you had to sit this season out).

So Thursday at Breck it was myself, two other skiers, and a boarder (I know, I thought the same thing: snowboarding... weak, right?). I had briefed them on your situation and each of them had spent an hour or so catching up on your blog. I let them know that I had some authentic ankle hardware from the accident and they were pumped to memorialize the murder tree along with me. Starting from the Peak 7 gondola, we headed over to Peak 8 where we proceeded to dominate the summit from the Imperial Express Chair -- thousands of feet above the tree line. The visibility was pretty terrible so we headed over to Peak 9, which you may better recognize as "Pain Peak".

At this time you and I were corresponding via email while I was on the lift. Your recollection was that the incident occurred somewhere near the Mercury Superchair near Lower American... a GREEN CIRCLE, as you may recall ... SA-WEET! (Ok in your defense, you can really carry a head of steam bombing down from the upper runs: American, Columbia, or Bonanza).

The first run down we scoped out potential incident locations. While many of the tree clusters looked quite menacing on this nearly flat run (zing!), most of them had trail markings or other signage near them, which you had not mentioned. Our next run down we focused in on just a few likely candidates. My friend turned on his GPS and fired up the Google Map from your blog. This allowed us to see our location in real time as we honed in on your suspect.

We found a sinister looking tree nearly directly where you had identified on your map. To both its left and its right stood dense tree clusters, but this angry bastard stood alone. It coincided almost perfectly with your marker on the map. It was time for vengeance (or, at the very least, some public shaming of the tree).

Before I left for Colorado, I printed out a pic of one of your xrays, to which I attached the ankle hardware. I did my best to protect it with some "lamination", although as you can see in the pics, attaching tiny hardware to a luggage-crumpled piece of paper in the back of a minivan winding through slippery mountain roads is not nearly as easy as it sounds. I managed to drive a couple nails through it into the tree and bent them over to secure the notice, like a staple. An off duty ski patrol dude happened to come by, curious as to what we were doing. We gave him the abbreviated version of the story and explanation of the sign. He nodded his approval and skied off with the standard ski-bum farewell: "Gnarly!" (Seriously, I can't make this stuff up -- people really still say that out there).

Below are a few pics of the memorial. I tweaked the name of the tree to be "Tree of Pain" instead of "Death" since, well, people actually do die running into trees and I didn't want to come back to the tree and find it adorned with wreaths and candles. We also took the time to shoot a brief re-enactment of the event (too soon?). There on the Tree of Pain shall the memorial stand for all eternity -- or until the next tree-hugging hippie or stiff breeze comes along and rips it off.