Ponder your Winter. Grey skies, wet sidewalks, dirty cars and cold fingers. Maybe even fumbled car keys in the frigid dark, frozen locks and dead batteries. Imagine the only way moisture came down from above was in that classic Northeast style. Yup, cloudy grey, damp, and near 100% humidity at 31 degrees, then rain. Its freezes on bushes, branches and grass. Pretty sight in small doses, but add the extremes like in Maine and you’ve got downed trees and powerlines across your commute! Yes, if all Winter precipitation were rain and freezing rain, the world would be a different place.
But that’s not the only way it falls. It falls as snow! The eskimos have “hundreds” of names for it, (although this is disputed by Wiki). And in Colorado, nearly everyone follows the weather. Commerce depends on snow. Summer cities 200 miles away depend on the gradual delivery from the snowpack. So this week as the snow came again after more than a week without, people were abuzz. Interstate Route 70 West was filling up. Smartphones everywhere ticked the totals at the resorts. People planned their drop ins. Snowfall ranged from 2-4″ at Cooper, 7-8″ at Beaver Creek, to 29″ down at Silverton.
We were fortunate enough to have a standing invitation Wednesday to join a wonderful friend at Beaver Creek to stay in her condo during her vacation. Her brother, some extended family and friend have annual trips to ski there. We, of course typically take vacations like theirs too. But this time we were Trampers, just visiting from the middle of our voyage.
A perspective I hadn’t recognized follows us now. On all my previous ski trips, I lobby for long trips of more than 7 days, wake up for first tracks and close the lifts. On the voyage, I’ve set this mode aside. We wake without alarms, ski a little or a lot.
We arrived in Beaver Creek, settled into the beautiful condo and waited for Megan. Plans had already been laid out for all of us, we were riding the 8:00 shuttle to catch the lifts as they opened. The overall village arrangement includes “a million beds” and free shuttle services to avoid parking hassles and fees. This meant leaving the condo in ski boots with sandwiches in pockets. Lately we’ve been at such small places that we park 50-100 feet from the door on the bottom floor of the lodge and carry our boots in knapsack bags into the sack-lunch area to dress. (The next day, Thursday, inside of the Ski Cooper cafeteria there were 11 other people total at 10:30 AM)
At Beaver Creek, clearly a fabulous and delightfully diverse mountain, the Trampers suffered culture shock. We were amazed traversing the connectors of that big mountain. I was humbled as I stood on the ledge of the Screech Owl Jump along the Birds of Prey men’s Downhill course. Those Olympians are SO, SO amazingly out of my league. We felt as we were skiing in a city, a big bustling city. We had fun, but felt our budget could be spared any more days of full-price/big mountain lift tickets. Maybe we can spend that hundred on dogsled rides? We chose to ski only one day there, then head back to our beloved Monarch where our season pass continues.
Most fortunately we loved our visit and hosts. Megan’s family was in the Vacation Mode. You know the one. Each person injects his or her expectations and the clock cannot and will not stop anything from fitting in. Apres ski, hot tub, happy hour, dinners and best of all; wine and cheese in their room. We went by, and thoroughly enjoyed the evening of chat, tasty box wine, yummy cheeses and snacks. The chat is MY favorite. Each of us seemed prompted to share a tale or story of some notoriety, many from or fed by skiing and the lifelong love thereof. Surrounding the fires of memory we shared the oral tradition in all its glory. All of us laughed therapeutically and hard.
My only regret was that all our searches during the ski day for the leeward relief from wind, the best snow or the best trails to share detoured us from sharing runs with anyone but our more direct host, Megan. Even then, our search blurred some of the blissful runs.
All-in-all, I hadn’t realized how unlike a vacation the Tramper Voyage is. We’ve set an alarm only 2 or 3 times in as many months. Ski for an hour or all day with our cheap picnic squeezed in the sack-lunch area. Skip a day, have a soak, or take a hike instead. And scarcely squeeze anything extra into the days. Even shopping or going 15 miles into town is spontaneous and barely weekly. We sure are enjoying this and hope the picture stays with us to color our future lives, and vacations.