The other day I got an email from my friend Julie, who asked me if I wanted to do America’s Uphill race on Aspen Mountain. I’m pretty sure she was just being nice considering I’ve made it pretty clear in several conversations that I’d rather stick needles in my eyes than race uphill. In fact, just putting those two words into one sentence makes me gag a little.
I wrote back, “Thanks, but I’m not as hard core as you. I’m actually kind of soft core. Or maybe soft at the core?”
The day after the America’s Uphill, Julie went on a hut trip and skinned almost 10 miles in a single day. Oh, and that was after she was out the night before way past my bedtime at Belly Up, dancing her butt off on the same legs that would carry her all those miles the very next day. The girl is a total stud.
Aspen women are a totally different breed: strange creatures who can accomplish boundless athletic feats, party like rock stars well into their 40s (and beyond) and still manage to look beautiful and fresh-faced every day of the week with minimal help from makeup or flatirons. What’s really unfair is that it seems like the more athletic they are, the more beautiful they are, as if the two are somehow inexplicably interlinked. I mean, come on, there have got to be a few ugly athletes out there, right? Well, if there are, they don’t live here.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m strong in a Jewish-peasant kind of way. I have these giant hamstrings and bulky quads that likely were passed down to me from ancestors who survived cold Russian winters on nothing but potatoes and vodka. But I am the furthest thing from lithe. I can do this skinning thing everyone is so into and drag my ass up the mountain. I know I’ll make it to the top eventually, but I take my time, chanting, “Slow and steady wins the race,” as I’m inevitably left behind.
Still, I’m always a little struck when I’m hoofing it up Tiehack, wheezing and counting my steps as a strategy for continuing onward when I would just as soon lie down. And these women come up from behind, one after the other, chitchatting like they’re lying on chaise longue chairs enjoying an afternoon cocktail. They fly me by on their little Dynafit racing skis like I’m in some beat-up old jalopy in the slow lane and they’re a fleet of Ferraris. They soon disappear over the next pitch and out of view as I curse under my breath and try not to have a total tantrum right there on the side of the trail, throwing my poles into the woods like John McEnroe used to slam his racket on the court.
“But those women are probably out there doing that every single day,” Ryan says when I finally make it to the top and air all my frustration and angst. “I don’t know why you compare yourself to other people.”
What, like my dear friend Catherine who hiked the bowl five days before giving birth and two weeks after and is still determined to hit 100 days this season with two kids younger than 4 to look after?
Like Christy Mahon who, after becoming the first woman to ski all of Colorado’s 54 fourteeners, decided to attempt to ski “The Centennial Peaks,” Colorado’s 100 tallest mountains? That she’s also beautiful, humble and insanely down-to-earth are just more reasons those old dogs who pride themselves on their silly little 100-day pins should check their egos at the door. What’s 100 days of skiing in a resort when this bad-ass chick half their weight is going to climb and ski 100 peaks in the Colorado backcountry?
There are girls like “All the Way May,” who was spotted at Food & Wine a week after giving birth in a tight little gray wrap dress that screamed, “What baby weight?” just in case you didn’t know she continued running throughout her entire pregnancy, including jogging to the hospital to give birth. There’s Kathy Fry, who posts all these photos of her early-morning skins up Aspen Mountain before I’ve gotten out of bed.
Then last weekend I got to hang out with Lexi McNutt, who is another one of these do-it-all-without-a-hair-out-of-place Aspen women who’s also a mind-bending endurance athlete. I followed her around like a little puppy, skinning behind her through the woods at max heart rate, trying to keep up as she broke trail and seemed to bound along like the wind pushed her thin, long-legged body up the slope without any effort. I asked her a million questions about herself, but it wasn’t until I read an article about her in a magazine that I discovered she’d been a lawyer. A lawyer! I mean, what are the odds that you’d get to be beautiful, athletic and smart?
It’s a genetic hat trick that’s not that uncommon around here, I’m afraid. These are just a few of the women I know — you only have to look around to see it’s only a sample of so many others who are out there.
Sure, I’m a little bit envious, but mostly I’m inspired. These women set the bar for living life to its fullest and pushing the boundaries for what women are capable of not only on the mountain but in life in general. That they also happen to look good doing it is merely a byproduct of the hard work they’ve put in, the hours they’ve spent pushing themselves to acquire a confidence that only comes from true achievement.
I might not be able to catch up or even keep up, but at least I can follow them down the same path knowing that, eventually, I’ll get to the top.
The Princess just ate a half a bag of Red Hot Blues while writing this column. Email your love to firstname.lastname@example.org.