Marolt: More skiing can wait
I think those Easter candies that look like jellybeans that are actually hard, sugar-shelled chocolate malt balls give me nightmares. I ate about a pound of them popcorn-like the other night and then had a dream that my driveway was covered with about two feet of brown snow. I felt this incredible pressure to get to the mountain, but I couldn’t find the right wax for the weird dust layer anywhere on my ski bench. I was relieved to wake up to find yellow grass in the yard that reminded me the lifts really would not run today.
I don’t remember ever being sad about the last day of skiing. I know some may see that as a sign of weakness in a ski town, and I accept that. I’m not in the running for ski bum of the year. I’ve never been competitive over who in town loves the sport more than me. I ski enough to make myself content with it, and after that I don’t find it hard to stop and do something else.
If I showed up to the lifts one morning in the middle of February with a foot of fresh snow on the ground and found a sign dangling from a post at the bottom of Lift 1A that said, “Closed for the Season,” then I could see myself being distraught. Life would seem long around here with no skiing in March. It’s not like that, though. The date the lifts power down was set since before they opened in November. If closing day caught anyone by surprise, I don’t think they paid enough attention to skiing to miss it anyway.
To me, it seems like the less you skied the more you would miss it once the opportunity to do it isn’t there, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. The people I know who finished with four scans left on their Classic Passes don’t seem too concerned that it’s time to oil the chains and pump up the bike tires. It’s the few who skied everyday of the season that get the glassy eyes as they stand in the slush and wait for the last chair up Lift 6.
Ski seasons die slow deaths, and I’ve become accustomed to reading the signs that they really want to go. There is that one day every season when the snow gets a barely perceptible bit of body to it under the revitalized sun. The dry snow of winter that excites the skis and makes them want to charge straight ahead to build momentum for snapping right and then left in a series down the slope that makes the body pump adrenaline is beginning to feel the urge to get to the ocean. I believe there is a sort of primordial urge of ours to follow it there. I don’t fight that.
Then there’s slush. It’s fun for a few days. Searching for the perfect exposure to grow Aspen sweet corn is excitement enough. Then, the skis stop carving and the legs stop caring. It becomes the sport you love in slow motion that you are living instead of watching. There’s no fast-forward through the boring parts. It becomes all about the sun. It feels good on the face and the thighs as you ride outside on the old lifts. That’s when I start to remember what summer promises, and it makes me want to wear shorts instead of long underwear.
One of the great things about this place is the change of seasons. They seem to me to be about the perfect length, all of them. If winter starts to feel too short or long, or spring, summer or fall, for that matter, then it might be a sign for me to move on to a place that offers a different climate that suits my new tastes better, but I haven’t felt that for 52 years. Looking forward to the end of ski season and the beginning of spring confirms I’m still in the right place.
So, Easter Sunday is a moguly day of obligation for me. I head to the mountain after church and the egg hunts, just because. Most years I don’t really feel like doing it, but I do it anyway. The skiing is almost always as poor as I expect it to be, but the day never fails to deliver that wonderful upside surprise. From the top of the mountain I can look to the west and see the bottoms of the valley starting to turn light green. Seven months isn’t too long to wait for more skiing.
Roger Marolt is full. He probably won’t be on the mountain for the extended weekends of ski season. Contact him at email@example.com.
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