I have always had this envision of being at the top of a mountain as the count down to midnight begins.

10! 9! 8! 7! I gaze from that mountain top, taking in the clear dark sky, full of stars and below the lights that make up the homes and communities. For miles and miles I see everything and nothing. The crisp, fresh air is intoxicating. A distance smell of campfire and near distance pine, evergreen and fir. The snow is the perfect mix of packed base and powder.

6! 5! 4! I now focus on what is both in front yet also below me. The courage, the strength, the agility, and the speed that will be gained as I point my skis down this mountain.

3! 2! 1! HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! As I push off and soar down the mountain, with out even looking back. The past year is behind and I feel the rush of moving forward. Swish! Swish! A little side to side movement. And those moments I feel solid, bending me knees deeper, shins to the front of my boots, poles straight back, skis straight forward feeling as if I am at mach speed flying down the mountain entering the excitement of the new year.

Well, this didn't happen but what did happen was pretty amazing. 

The location is Holliday Valley, Ellicotville NY. One of my BFF's Angela and I decide this would be the place to celebrate New Year's. They have night skiing and it was a beuatiful night. Riding up the lift with puffy snowflakes coming down. One of the trails had a fire pit 1/4 of the way down for a pit stop (and small shot of fireball!) People were happy, friendly as it always seems to be when in a vacation setting. Conditions were good for east coast skiing. AND, we had heard they had a torch run for the midnight countdown. And then the discussion started.

Torches?!?! What do they mean by torches? In both hands or just one? What about your ski poles? And they are how many degrees hot? What do you mean melt your skis? And again...no ski poles?

We decide we better practice first not using poles. I see kids doing it all the time but they are significantly closer to the ground. OK, we can do this. I mean it's not like we are skiing in the West where a green trail is really like a blue trail and blue is more like a black here in New York. We find out that the hill, Cindy's Run, is doable and we aren't even going from the very top. And people of all ages are in line for the lift to do this so we have the "If they can do it, we can do it attitude."

It's time for all of us to get in line for the lift. There are more than expected so we each get one torch vs two. And it turns out it is more like a road flare. It's beautiful out. But then things start to change.

We are on the lift with a snowboarder and it starts snowing. Cool right? I mean that's what we want at a ski resort. But I mean really snowing! Like out of the blue, wind picking up and snow hitting your face wishing your goggles had wind shield wipers. Then we hear this rumble and feel almost like a tremor. First we thought it was practice for the fireworks that are going to be displayed at midnight. Then we re looking around to see if there are fireworks somewhere else or maybe some dynamite construction site, which makes no sense since it is 11:45 PM. But thats what it seemed like. The wind is picking up more, The snow is coming down harder. And we are on this lift swaying to this erratic rhythm. Making it to the top, we unload, no ski's remember for our very first time, and need to make it around and down to the meeting point. There it seems the snow is coming down even harder! And then this crack of light! Seriously what is going on!?! It's got to be the fireworks for nothing else makes sense.

It's a Thunder Snow! And not just thunder and snow! Add lightning and wind! Crazy! What's even crazier is this abnormal weather happened in Iowa with calm snow Christmas Eve then thunderstorms and warm temps on Christmas Day. God is really wanting our attention!

And then it stopped. 

It was so peaceful and beautiful. We received a flare, got it lit and almost 200 of us snaked down Cindy's Run. We were told watching from the lodge, it was a spectacular sight with the fireworks as a grand finale.

I'm not sure what this means. You can read into it so many ways as to how 2016 is ending. How 2017 is beginning. How we view looking at the past and forward into the future. Either way I can now check mark this skiing New Years Eve adventure on my BucketList.

Here's to 2017!