I remember the first time that I put my skis on my shoulder to hike out the gated access trail behind the North Peak restaurant at Keystone. I didn't know how long I'd be hiking, but I was eager to see where the path led. After a short 25 minutes of hiking, I found my self above the trees on a beautiful ridge, with nothing but untracked snow on the slope below me and no other skier in sight.
I made my turns with a huge smile on my face down through the open bowl and into the quiet trees below.
This wasn't my first time hiking for turns, I had been on several backcountry hut trips, and skied Loveland and Berthoud Pass a few times. So what's the big deal? Why is this particular hike memorable, or noteworthy?
The epiphany that I had was just how big of a reward is available for putting in a relatively small amount of extra effort.
As I merged back onto the crowded, icy run that dozens of fellow skiers and snowboarders were making their way down, I felt like yelling, "Don't you know, the slope we all dream of is right there! All you have to do is walk uphill for a few minutes."
A little extra effort is often all it takes to have a magical experience and get ahead of the crowd. This hiking-for-turns principle is everywhere - biking to work, not having as big of a house as you can afford, growing your own food, backpacking vs camping. I've heard it called voluntary hardship, quality vs quantity, badassity. Whatever you call it, I believe it's one of the most satisfying mindsets in life, worthy of cultivation.