Asher on Aspen: Skating into Winter |

Asher on Aspen: Skating into Winter

Shannon Asher
Asher on Aspen
People skate on Maroon Lake at the Maroon Bells.
Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times

I always try to hold out as long as possible but on this particular Thursday morning, it felt inevitable.

I rolled over in bed and peaked out my window — it was snowing. The ground was covered with a fresh blanket of white, fluffy flakes and I couldn’t stop smiling. Snow has always had this remarkable ability to boost my mood. Partly embarrassed, partly excited and partly hesitant, I proceeded to play my first Christmas song of the season while I got ready for my morning trek to the Maroon Bells.

The sky was still dark as I pulled away from my apartment. I alerted my friends that I was going to drive alone — mostly because I wanted to sing along to Christmas carols and feel no shame in doing so, but also because I had to get to work in a timely manner. It was the final day the road to the Maroon Bells was open and some girlfriends and I decided to drive up at sunrise to go ice skating at the frozen-over Maroon Lake. Only in Aspen can you skate beneath the most photographed peaks in North America and still get to work by 9 a.m. for your day job.

It’s been about 10 years since I’ve tried to squeeze my feet into a pair of ice skates. This being an impromptu adventure that we decided to embark upon just the day before, we all scrambled desperately to find ice skates around town that weren’t too expensive. Thank goodness for the Aspen Thrift Shop, which sold me skates for just $6.50. Even if they were boy hockey skates with bright yellow laces that were a size too small, it was still well worth the purchase for this spontaneous feat.

Turns out, ice skating does not come back to one as easily as riding a bike — at least not for me. I had forgotten how to keep my balance on skates. My knees were wobbly, and my arms waved around frantically as I attempted to stand up. A friend saw my struggle and offered me her arm. We moseyed along slowly until I felt comfortable enough to let go. Even as a full-grown adult, the sport still gives me quite a rush.

The majestic mountain peaks that floated in the background added an intoxicating touch of charm and whimsy. Some of my friends caught on quickly and others not so much, and that was OK. There was nothing competitive about this experience and I liked it that way. The ice was bumpy and rough in parts but smooth and silky in others. We all gleefully glided around the ice with youthful delight, giggling at every stumble and misstep.

Combining nostalgia and winter magic, this fresh-air mountain activity made me feel like a kid again. I could have stayed on the ice for hours. The scene that unfolded around me looked like something out of a Hallmark movie: hockey players set up their nets to prepare for a game; couples shuffled along shyly in their Sorrels; toddlers tried out ice skates for the very first time and one group of girlfriends indulged in an impromptu photoshoot.

Despite our countless layers, oversized mittens, pom-pom hats, fuzzy socks and heavy scarves, it was still somehow very cold. I pulled out my phone to capture a picture of the scenery that surrounded me. It was hard to leave my fingers outside of my mittens for more than a couple of minutes without them feeling completely frozen. The cold didn’t really bother me though. I felt like I was dropped into a snow globe. The backdrop was too serene to even snicker about how cold it was.

There was a moment where I shuffled off to the side to sit on a rock and take it all in. It was in this moment that I realized that I sincerely love where I live in this world. If I can get this excited about snow and winter in general, then this is exactly where I need to be. Furthermore, I was experiencing this moment with some of my best friends and frankly, the company is much more important than the locale.

With the mountain opening this coming Saturday, another season is already upon us. I feel lucky to live in a place where people pray for snow and where winter is so enthusiastically embraced. See you on the slopes this weekend, my fellow skiers and riders. May your skiing playlist be filled with all the Christmas classics and your holiday favorites. And don’t listen to the Grinches in your life — it’s never too early for a little Bing Crosby.

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