Change is inevitable in every aspect of our lives. Sometimes a change is good and other times change causes us anxiety, confusion and sometimes even emotional pain. No matter how hard we try to “hang on”, we just can’t stop the ebb and flow of life that precipitates change.
I’m a student of certain Eastern philosophies and one of the things I’ve learned (and still learning) is the concept of detachment. This is actually a very difficult concept to warm up to because as humans we tend to attach instead of detach. We love our things, our friends, family and ourselves and the thought of losing any of that stuff can almost be paralyzing. But the cold hard facts are that everything is temporary in our lives and we must accept that we can’t hang on for eternity. We’ll lose things, break them, part ways with friends and ultimately we will all leave this earth and travel on to whatever afterlife your beliefs teach.
The way I see it, we have a couple of choices when it comes to this reality. You can fret over the changes that will surely take place, or you can accept the temporary nature of things as a gift and live more in the moment and cherish the time you have.
Think about it this way. Say you go to the store and buy a pint (or quart) of your favourite ice cream. You have to know from the time you plunk down your cash the ice cream is temporary…because why would you buy it if you didn’t plan to eat it? Again, you have two choices. You can eat it and fret the entire time about the fact it will soon be gone, or you can accept that the ice cream is temporary and enjoy every spoon-licking bite until it’s gone…then lick the carton dry.
I’ve been skiing at Arapahoe Basin for almost two decades and have loved it for the most part. It’s always felt homey and not overly commercialized like most of the mega resorts here in Colorado. For sure that’s been a huge part of the allure. But the crowds have grown and that homey feeling has slowly been slipping away. I attribute a lot of that to the Basin being part of the Epic Pass where you can pay one (big) price and ski lots of resorts on a single pass.
At first it never seemed to be such a big issue, but in the past few years the crowds and overall vibe has gradually changed as more and more people started discovering it. It’s especially evident when all the other resorts close and the only resort left standing on the Epic Pass after mid-April is the Basin. Think about the thousands and thousands of people who spread out during the season at Breckenridge, Vail, Keystone and Beaver Creek (and it’s ALWAYS crowded at those monster resorts) then all of a sudden those same people descend on The Basin’s modest 850-ish acres all at once.
I don’t think I’m alone feeling this way or this phenomenon is exclusive to the Basin. Little Eldora Mountain Resort partnered up with the Colorado Super Pass and is now sharing a common pass with Copper Mountain, Winter Park and Steamboat. I hear the same thing from long time Eldora skiers that it’s now grossly overcrowded, the laid-back vibe has changed and it’s just not that much fun to go anymore.
I get that money is the primary driving factor in the ski industry and for those small resorts it’s probably a big financial boon. Cash fat Vail Resorts is buying ski areas right and left and it’s no mystery that growing those share prices and keeping shareholders (and executives) financially happy is the end game…not necessarily skier experience. That’s business and that’s reality.
For quite a while now I’ve been paring away a lot of things in my life, detaching from some things when necessary and basically trying to get back to what truly make me happy. In doing that, I’ve discovered a lot of things I’d been doing had sort of become default decisions. I’d always buy a ski pass and it would always be Arapahoe Basin. I’d do this or that because that was the way people were doing it. I wasn’t always listening to my heart and saying “no” when maybe I should have. Pretty much I’ve been examining every aspect of my life and thinking long and hard about whether it really makes me happy. If it didn’t, well, I’d apply some of that detachment I mentioned earlier.
This season we decided to escape the norm and ski at some of the smaller, indie ski areas around the state in an attempt to simplify the experience and try to reignite our love for skiing. In a word, the result has been FANTASTIC. Friendly people, no crowds, MORE skiing, cheaper and dare I say, even more enjoyable than skiing some of the big trophy resorts.
Because of our experiences at these small resorts, we’ve made the decision to not buy our Basin passes for the first time almost 20 years. We are getting passes next season, but it will be to an independent ski area where we hope to slow down, enjoy the overall skiing experience again, make new friends and enjoy old friends even more. We also plan to spend a lot more time in the solitude of the backcountry where we can casually tour, take in the amazing scenery here in Colorado, get to know our friends on a deeper level and enjoy life at a slower pace.
I’ll miss the Basin, but I think I’ll more miss the way the Basin used to be instead of the way it is now. I guess you could say my quart of Arapahoe Basin Ice Cream is down to the bottom. I’ve enjoyed it while it lasted but when that last bite is done later this season, it’ll be time to put that carton down, savour the good times, then move on.
Ski hard, climb high, pedal far, live simply.