So many people crowded into the Highlands Mall on Sunday that you may have thought ski patrol was handing out free avalanche beacons, or there was a wet ski-suit contest.Those of us who made the pilgrimage, however, were there with a singular purpose. We were saying good-bye to an old friend.While I didn’t press my palms or my face on the back window of the RFTA bus as it drove out of the village, it was hard walking away. I can’t help but think about what could’ve been if the lifts on my favorite mountain kept running for a few more weeks.Consider these figures: The summit depth on the mountain Sunday, according to Skico, was 103 inches – 8 inches more than Snowmass and 36 better than Ajax, which don’t close until April 16. I don’t even pretend to be a meteorologist, but I’m sure it takes a while for 103 inches of snow to melt. Maybe I’m selfish, but I wish I could on the hill enjoying the skiing until all that white stuff finally disappears. I’m sure locals echo such sentiments. It’s good to end on a high note. I guess. A few inches of fresh powder greeted skiers standing in line for the Exhibition chair at 9 a.m. A couple hours later, the slopes were blanketed by warm sun – it seemed only fitting. While I wasn’t hiking the ridge for obvious reasons (see previous On the Hills), a co-worker who came into the office said there was so much traffic that people were in two rows. As of 1:30 p.m., he said 811 people had indulged in a little bowl-ing.I asked him about his recent trip to Kona on the big island of Hawaii. “It was good,” he said, “but I like today much better.”I’m sure once the snow melts, the baseball glove is dusted off and the mountain bike is tuned, memories of this winter will dissipate. It’s is going to take a while, however. After all, the 28 feet of snow that fell this season made for the best skiing of my life. My only wish is that next year is comparable. I’m looking forward to putting on my mittens once again. I’m looking forward to buying that first hot dog of the season at the Merry-Go-Round. I’m looking forward to turning the pages on my calendar until I see December.We’ll see you in eight months.
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Friends of Colorado Avalanche Information Center has contributed to the state’s avalanche center for several years to help with forecasting for backcountry visitors. It cannot hold in-person fundraisers this year so its asking supporters to sign up for an annual membership.