Every year when the snow starts flying in the high country we as skiers start to get that giddy feeling deep inside. We dust off all the memories of previous season’s powder days, bluebird blue skies and all the great craft beers and green chile burgers we’ve consumed after a big day in the backcountry. We believe deep in our guts that this coming season will naturally be the best ever.
Once the season finally does come though, we inevitably get into that mode of judging the snow and weather conditions before we head out. We’ll unknowingly adopt a cumbersome matrix of variables we must consider of where, when or even if we should use up any of our valuable time to ski “subpar” conditions. On top of that, we typically wind up having to cater to the wants and needs of the individual skiers in the group because some will want to be hard chargers and only want to ski the hardest terrain available and others will want to just have a casual day. Leave at 4:30 a.m. to beat traffic or leave later, but that means the snow will be chewed up but geez, sleeping in sounds so good, but hey, we can’t get fresh tracks. Before long everything starts fracturing and what was supposed to a fun day of forgetting about the rigours of daily life becomes a chore.
How is it that we as adults, supposedly the smarter ones in the food chain, manage to totally eff up a good time by complicating the things that are supposed to help us UNcomplicate life?
This past weekend we decided to skip the backcountry and meet up with some friends for some inbounds turns up at Arapahoe Basin. It was shockingly busy, especially for the Basin, but hey, it was all about a casual day, making turns, working on technique, getting some Vitamin D, listening to a little music and of course having an adult beverage at the end of the day.
For the first couple of hours we did just that…we skied some casual groomers, worked on our tele techniques and battled for space on the piste to make more than three turns without having to avoid dozens people laying all over the trails. Typical day and as usual, after a few runs it started to get annoying and the excitement of the day started to wear off a little.
About two hours in, our other friends, the Tourney’s, showed up. An early alpine start for Team Tourney is probably only a pipe dream given that they have a third and first grader in the mix, but hey, sometimes you just have to take what the defense will give you. Let me just say right here that the Tourney’s are awesome and some of my favourite people, ever. Despite the inherent chaos of having two elementary age kids, they’re out most every weekend killing it on the snow and in the summer they’re out camping, climbing and crushing it on the mountain bikes. Juggle that with volleyball, gymnastics, school, baseball and everything else, well, yeah, they’re freakin awesome.
The first ride up, Brooke (8 years old…almost 9 though!) rode the chair with me and Jason. In the course of eleven short minutes, I was completely up to date on the doings in the world of a third grader, dialed in on her plans to play volleyball via a full ride scholarship to Denver University or Colorado State University (but not University of Colorado, thank you very much), clued in that her future husband would be balanced with cuteness, athleticism AND smartness and finally, we were educated on the pros and cons of her options for middle schools which were rapidly approaching and decisions needed to be made. Not once did I hear about crappy hard packed snow, the blasting wind or the insane crowds.
When it came time to ski, I found myself completely intoxicated with the unfiltered laughing and playful exuberance those kids had. They were just having fun without worrying about the senseless BS we as adults tend to glom ourselves up with. Green trail, blue trail, black diamond trail….just colours in their eyes and not a badge of honour or shame, nor a barometer of the day’s successes or failures.
Four turns in, I was actually giggling too. I was no longer worried about whether my tele turns were silky or clunky, whether the snow was chewed up or if I had to ski around 300 people every quarter of a mile. It was just fun again…and it continued to be fun the rest of the day, including when Brooke cleverly charmed me out of my French fries during lunch.
I always like to think of myself as pretty open to personal growth, so I’d probably need to be the first to admit that getting reminded by a third grader that simply enjoying everything about the moment at hand instead of getting wound around the axle with the things that don’t really matter was pretty damn awesome.
When I grow up, I want to be like Brooke.