Thirty–five years ago my husband and I loaded up our four children and all sorts of family possessions into our Ford LTD and headed north, far away from the sweltering Phoenix summer weather, for an annual week-long vacation. There was no limit of fun activities in northern Arizona but what we’ve always remembered, with a shudder, was our ride on the ski lift.
It seemed like a perfect outing. Snowbowl, the ski resort located on The San Francisco Peaks, was not a long drive from our cabin. Although the winter snow had all melted the chair-lift operated year round. Even without skiing we were told it was worthwhile going to the top of the peak to see the magnificent view.
When we first thought of the idea I’d pictured the Skyway at Disneyland. That ride was closed in around the passengers and the opening began from the height of an adult’s waist. All could enjoy looking down on the Magic Kingdom and feel perfectly safe. That was not the situation at Snowbowl. How they agreed to let us on that ride is totally beyond me.
Each lift was an open bench with a vertical bar to hold on to. My husband took the three- and seven-year-old with him. I had the five-year-old and baby. It took only a few seconds for me to realize what a precarious position we were in but those few seconds were far too late for me to back out. We were on our way. Yes, the view was outstanding but I was unable to enjoy it. I was too busy instructing my daughter not to move and wrapping my arms around the baby.
Slowly, slowly we made our way up the mountainside. Slowly, slowly I pleaded with HaShem to let us arrive safely. And He did! The problem was that once safely at the top we knew we’d have to go back down again. We had no gear with us so hiking miles down to the parking lot was not an option.
My husband was just as traumatized as I was. We delayed boarding the lift for as long as possible. Finally we took deep breathes and boarded the benches again. Thankfully we made it to the bottom without mishap.
I halfway expected someone to report us to social services for irresponsible parenting but no one did. For years I’d remember that outing with trembling. Several times I woke up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat as I dreamed about one of the children falling meters down onto the rocky ground.
Last week I finally had a chance to repair my trauma. I had my whole family with me at Mt. Hermon in northern Israel. Just like at Snowbowl the snow had all melted but we were told the view at the top was worthwhile. So most of us climbed on to the ski-lift that would take us to the top of the peak. We organized ourselves so that every young child was with an adult and took off.
This time, though, the ride was much safer. There was a restraining bar that closed around us and I was able to relax and sing with my grandson. It took us twenty minutes to arrive at our destination and once there we discovered we were above the clouds.
The view was unbelievable. No wonder there’s an army base there. There’s also a memorial to the three soldiers who were killed defending the Hermon in the Yom Kippur War. It’s a strategic position for protecting Israeli civilians.
Unlike our time on the San Francisco Peaks so many years ago we were able to enjoy ourselves on the top of the mountain. We drank coffee and wine, ate snacks, and took pictures. More important, my husband and I finally slayed the dragons of our old fear. Instead of shuddering we can remember this outing with serenity. What a privilege to feel safe in the Holy Land.