On the Hill: The countdown | AspenTimes.com

On the Hill: The countdown

Tim Dudley

Two down, three to go.There are five fall events, rituals really, leading up to winter and that first ride up the lifts, when all the runs look pathetic and spectacular at the same time.The first is seeing the first snow. Not the first flakes, but the night you wake up and the light behind your blinds is twice as bright because there’s a carpet of white covering the lawn outside.I got that last weekend in Jackson, Wyo. It dropped a few inches the night following one of those warm October days that feels more like summer with different colors. It melted by the end of the day.Honestly, I’d been pining for skiing long before that, but nothing teases more than seeing those high peaks and bowls again in their winter glory. I celebrated by spinning my car into a snowy highway ditch and getting stranded for about an hour on the Wyoming plains.The second fall event is the first ski swap of the season. I checked that off the list Saturday down in Glenwood Springs at the Great Ski and Sports Swap. There were old and almost new skis of every size and brand; long rows of bins filled with gloves, hats and helmets; racks of coats; stacks of goggles. I checked new goggles off my list of preseason necessities.There was also excitement, as skiers, old and young, jostled around the ski corrals and the equipment tables, looking for steals and deals.We’ve got until Thanksgiving to squeeze in the other three preseason rituals. That leaves more than six weeks to see the first ski flick, pick up the season pass and tune the skis.