On the Hill: How Aspen saved me | AspenTimes.com

On the Hill: How Aspen saved me

Christian Manie
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO, Colorado

I am guilty of that great sin.

I was sitting on the edge of the bed absent-mindedly flipping through some magazine or other, distracting from the fact that it had been three weeks since I had been on the mountain, telling myself that it was our lack of snow. It’s a common enough excuse dredged up by locals too spoiled by great conditions ” laziness is usually the common denominator amongst the excused. In any case, it had been three weeks.

That’s a long time for a guy who lives barely 10 minutes from the gondola. Even longer for the kid that skied first to last chair with religious dedication on those family ski trips many years ago.

But work gets in the way, especially if you have two jobs ” and if you live in Aspen you likely have two at least. Relationships get in the way ” at least, the lure of the warm bed and a sexy, loving body at 8 in the morning on your only day off. I was sure a lot of things must be getting in the way, but had trouble coming up with any aside from those two.

Then my phone vibrated with a message. A name I had trouble placing at first, so long had it been. Paul. South African Paul, whom I had not seen in 10 years. Long-since remembered memories of a similar existence to Aspen, on a beach very far away. Paul was coming, and he wanted to ski. So, suddenly, I was skiing the next day regardless.

And it was epic. I rustled up Marcel, for fear of Paul totally sucking on the mountain, in which case I could do a couple runs with him and then dump him to ride Ajax Express all day. But it was empty concern, as he snapped in and was never more than 30 seconds behind all day.

And we rode all day. From 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. We did a number of top bottoms, and found ourselves on Ruthie’s just after midday. It was fast and we loved it. A great day had by all. The boys on the hill tearing it up. Like the ski days of yesteryear ” impassioned and exhilarating.

It had been years since I had ridden all day ” not even close, not if you neglect to count a couple hours of apres.

It was almost a prescient act. The next day I fell off my girlfriend’s roof (don’t even ask). I completely ruined my already not-great knee, and doubt I’ll get up again this season. The day after that I was squeezed out of one job by the boorish economic downturn. Then I lost my housing. The next day I signed divorce papers.

I am really glad I got up on the hill with Marcel and Paul that (last) day. Because, despite it all, that one day still has the power to make me smile, and although it can’t change anything that has happened since, it reminded me of why I’m here at a time when it would have been really easy to forget. Or maybe I’m just particularly stupid and cursed with a uselessly high pain threshold. In either case, I’m glad for it.


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