ASPEN - I'm finally understanding that skiing really is a social sport, or at least it's more fun when shared with others.
I've spent considerable time skiing alone, both alpine and cross country. More often than not, it's because I don't have the patience required when you get more than three people doing anything. I've also been accused of being a social moron.
But so far this young season, I've had at least one skiing partner and sometimes more for the few outings I've had. I skied on Aspen Mountain last weekend with a guy who's been in Aspen for more 40 years. He knows everybody who hits the slopes frequently, both young and old. Skiing with him is an education on who's who, particularly among "old" Aspen.
Here's the typical scene: We ski to Lift 3. After we settle into the line, we're almost certain to hear a "Hello, Erik." Then a few seconds later, "Hey, Erik," from someone else. If the line is long, he's likely to be greeted by four or more folks. The same thing would happen at Ruthie's, Lift 1A and the Silver Queen Gondola, but there are so rarely lift lines.
Erik and his network of frequent skiers share intelligence. We waited at the top of Lift 3 for three ladies who greeted him in line at the bottom and were a few chairs behind us. We stood off to the side at the top, and when they unloaded, they eased by and informed us that Walsh's had just opened. We eagerly followed for what was an excellent run on a powder-filled trail that only a few had beat us to.
Likewise, Erik is constantly sharing tips on what trails are skiing well in brief exchanges with folks in his network. He's a delight to ski with.
I've got a different small circle of friends for the cross-country outings. I went out with three cohorts last weekend and had a blast at Spring Gulch near Carbondale. There are enough picnic tables and natural rendezvous points among the vast web of trails that it's easy to regroup, allowing everyone to go at their own pace. Best of all, one of us in our group usually remembers to pack a few beers to share in the parking lot at the end of our outing. True friends, indeed.