ASPEN - I learned a valuable lesson Saturday on how the die-hards on the ski slopes approach a tough season such as this. Instead of complaining about the conditions, they make the best of it.
I skied Aspen Mountain with a friend and friends of the friend. They are all skilled skiers with years of experience on Aspen Mountain. I dare say they know every nook and cranny. Years of trial and error have taught them where they have the best chance of finding decent snow as well as what aspects are skiing best at any given time. They also have a network for sharing information during chance encounters that's phenomenal.
When they guess wrong and find themselves on a slope with lots of rocks or bare patches, they shrug it off and either pick their way down or bail out to an adjacent slope.
My friend has little tolerance for people who bitch about the conditions, particularly those who haven't bothered to hit the slopes. When people ask him how the skiing is, his unfailing answer is, "The best day ever." A fellow die-hard gave him a knowing grin after he said that the other day. They know the snowpack is lean, but they won't let it ruin their winter. That's a good lesson for everyone.
Speaking of good skiing, conditions at Spring Gulch couldn't have been better Sunday. (No lie.) The cold snap solidified a decent base. The groomers have made excellent skating and classic tracks. The weather couldn't be beat. The bluebird day attracted hordes to the cross-country skiing area outside Carbondale.
Conditions were slightly slick for people without the proper wax. My group of four made a nice climb up the southside trails and whisked along the always-delightful Finlandia trail. By noon, the temperatures were high enough that the trip down was on a perfect surface without ice.
It was, as my friend would say, the best day ever. Now if it would only snow.