Serving the planet and her people


9/3 Learning From Intuition the Hard Way

“When was a time your intuition told you one thing, you didn’t listen to it, and you learned the hard way that you should probably listen to your intuition?”

Yikes. Going with my gut on this one is cringe worthy, because I am certainly not proud of who I was. But the second I read this prompt, I thought of this story, so here it goes. And being authentic on this blog is about not hiding versions of me, so why not get it out there??

It was winter 2013, and my little ski bum lifestyle was crashing down around me. I thought I lived for snow, and thus dedicated my whole life towards accumulating days on my pass. I had quit a career in teaching English to work for a shop on the mountain, and it was, for better or for worse, a total frat house. I lasted about a year in the competitive, binge drinking environment, but right around New Years I started to lose it. Deep down, my intuition was begging me to find another opportunity, but my stubborn gemini side thought that, if I quit, I’d be a failure. So I stayed with a business that offered me nothing but trouble. I defensively picked fights with my coworkers and launched a whole story about my victimhood, using recent customer interactions as a reason for why I was so emotional (not the real reason, which was that the universe was showing me I had to GTFO).

The first week of January, when my boss finally had to let me go, and I felt oddly calm and confident. It was a moment of chains being unlocked and a door flinging open to my freedom of pursuing a new life, but then I fell backwards. Even though I applied for and got a job that would launch me into a beautiful new path, I thought I still needed time on the mountain. For some dumb ass reason, even though I was working full time, I answered a response to a Craig’s list ad I had posted about teaching skiing on the hill.




But…it was side cash. And the resort town worker mentality is cut throat -when it is busy season, you do everything you can to make monies, because “mud season” is around the corner and you will be broke with no way to find income until summer. It was like an old story of “you’re not working hard enough even though you have a salary and a lot of new responsibilities” was swimming around my head. And I believed the mean thoughts.

So I met this guy on the mountain to teach him some basic ski principles. I felt SO DANG AWKWARD from the moment I read his first email, to setting a time on the slopes to meet, to riding the chair lift with him. My intuition was freaking out, but I told it to shut up because maybe $75 (I don’t even remember!?) would get me a weekend’s worth of partying. Hot mess hood right there.

The time on the mountain was unbearable after just a few short runs. It was getting increasingly harder for me to handle the present moment, so I suggested we stop the lesson early. I was very suspicious of his behavior, because he acted like he was a beginner but I could tell he knew how to ski, and he was nothing like his bubbly, outgoing self in the emails.

That’s when he showed me his gun.

A fucking armed officer.

I had been blindly “teaching a newbie” who was really an undercover cop, ready to arrest me.

Turns out, they had taken video and pictures of us all over the mountain (Creepy!!!!) to use as evidence, and as I was being interrogated about the situation, I was beyond ashamed.

Also, why is this a good use of taxpayer dollars?

I won’t slide into my old mentality of protesting the whole thing, but come back to the prompt.

I learned the hard way to listen to my intuition. Working with my inner voice that says “back off!” is and will be a practice.

Here is a little letter I had to write to be published in the local newspaper (ridiculous) if you care to read more. What a shameful blast from the past!

Recently, the Manager of Security and Parking at the Steamboat Ski Resort suspended my pass and gave me a year ban from the mountain.  As part of my attempts to work back to good standing, I am sharing my story in the hopes that readers will learn more about the regulations in place to keep skiers and riders safe in this beautiful Ski Town, USA.  

My trouble began when I posted a Craigslist ad about babysitting and ski instruction in order to get a little side income.  Without my knowledge, authorities sought out my ad and turned me into a federal agent. You see, I was breaking the law “(c) Selling or offering for sale any merchandise or conducting any kind of work activity or service unless authorized by Federal law, regulation, or special-use authorization” and the United States Forest Service engaged in an operation to educate me and hold me accountable. 

This is the long and short of an incident that cost me my self respect, my reputation, and my freedom to step onto any land the resort leases.  Graciously, the mountain has not banned me for life, or even a decade, which is a result that others have faced after making the same mistakes I have.  I’ve discussed this punishment with many people and not a single one knew this was standard procedure, but it is what the government and Intrawest have enlisted in order to keep their visitors safe on the mountain.  Why none of us have ever taken the time to read the fine print when we sign for our tickets is the obvious question, but making these laws and consequences less of a secret is the real answer. This is a serious business, and many people work hard to ensure your time on the hill is carefree.  Never mind my $275 fee or surrendered lift ticket: lawsuits, injury, and liability are all very real possibilities when you come to the slopes. I could have faced all three had I recklessly used the mountain for my own profit (and could have been responsible for much worse).

I never imagined I would address the local public in the wake of an undercover federal operation, nor did I ever dream that in a shadow of guilt I would bear a Scarlet A of the 21st century that would damage my character and force me to expose my poor choices so that others will not trip where I have fallen.   I overlooked dozens of regulations; I ignored policies and assumed I was safe; I trusted strangers and risked my own well being--I was irresponsible every step of the way.  Posting that ad and attempting to go behind the professional Ski School was a major offense and I am extremely ashamed of my actions. This is a plea for those out there who think they can tour, teach, coach, assist or guide others on the mountain.  Do not try what I did. My confession may seem trivial to some, but it has been a shattering few weeks for me.  

I hope this article is a catalyst for informed dialogue on the Forest Service and resort policies so that the mountain does not have to continue with their efforts to prevent citizens from violating the law. Be careful. Respect those who keep us safe and understand the laws are in place for a reason. Ask more questions and bring yourself up to date whenever traveling to a state or national park. I didn’t do these things, and my deepest apologies go out to those I have negatively affected.

steamboat springs product of my environment
Sarah AlbertComment