Aspen Princess: Choosing my own mountain path
Last weekend we decided to go to Steamboat and miss closing day at Highlands. I know, sacrilege, right?
It’s like not skiing on a powder day. There’s a fair amount of guilt involved as well as the feeling that you’ve somehow let people down even though they probably don’t care, won’t notice or will be too drunk to remember if you were there.
It’s been a weird season. My ski partner Catherine moved to France, and without her I did not have the discipline or the desire to continue our tradition of “Bowl Babe Fridays” wherein we would meet to hike the Highland Bowl, without fail, every single Friday.
There is no getting out of BBFs with Catherine, no excuses, like ever. Over the course of our weekly BBF tradition, she went through two pregnancies and gave birth to two children. It didn’t matter if she was suffering from morning sickness, so starving and nauseous that she had to eat, puke and then eat some more. It didn’t matter if she was nine months pregnant and due any day and the size of a baby whale. It didn’t matter if she’d just given birth, like in her spare bedroom, a week before. It didn’t matter if her boobs were about to explode because he hadn’t pumped since the morning but opted to do another lap because the conditions were too good not to. She was hiking the bowl if it killed her.
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Obviously, weather was never an excuse. We hiked that damn thing is sub-zero temperatures and gale-force winds. We hiked even if it hadn’t snowed or if the conditions were supposed to be sucky.
The funny thing is, the conditions were never sucky. It was always worth it, every single time.
I don’t have the same obsession with skiing that Catherine has. She is a day-counter. She will not let anything stand between herself and skiing 100 days every season, not even two children younger than 4. She is willing to make any and every sacrifice it takes to ski as many days as she possibly can. I have no doubt she will do this until the day she dies.
My feeling is, this is Colorado. There will always be another powder day. I will always get to ski whenever I want. So why stress about it? Shocker, I admit I may have other priorities and other interests. I’m more likely to schedule my day around a yoga class than a gondola lap. I know that makes a lot of you cringe. I know you’re thinking, “Why live here?” or, “See what happens when you move downvalley?” But that does not mean I enjoy these mountains any less than the guy who feels like he has to ski for an hour every day no matter what just so he can earn his 100-day pin. It just means I don’t feel like enjoying these mountains is some kind of requirement I have to meet every day by getting on a chairlift.
Yoga is still my favorite thing to do, and it is a priority and I try to do it every single day because I truly believe it is the fountain of youth. If I can spend part of my day upside down, if I can still do a full split and I can still stand on my hands and I can still do a solid backbend then I honestly feel there is not much I need to worry about on the aging front. I love that all I need is my mat and a cute and flattering outfit (doing yoga in a bad outfit is the worst because you have to look at yourself in the mirror the whole time).
It’s true that something has shifted in our lives over the past few years, a sort of settling down and a settling in to our own little cocoon of an existence. I realize that part of this is from moving downvalley to a remote location where no one is just going to swing by for a visit. As we grow older, there is this sort of dispersing that happens; we all begin to choose a different path in life, one that takes us in all different directions, and this is the path we chose.
We’re still right here, but somehow it does feel far away. I do struggle with the guilt I sometimes feel because I’ve chosen to step away from the Aspen scene because my husband became the world to me and together we created our own world, our nest. Our beautiful, cozy nest that is surrounded by steep mountains and cliff walls and a lazy river and lots of wild animals that seem perfectly happy to cohabitate with us. I chose to acquire land and a house that I loved over living in a cramped space so I could be close to the lifts. I know not everyone agrees with that, but it is the path we chose.
Last weekend, we decided to go see my folks. I don’t mean to sound fatalistic, but I cherish every minute I have with them. Even though they can still kick my ass on a road bike and are in way better shape than I am, I know that can’t last forever. So we enjoyed a quiet, relaxing weekend with my family, and it was just what we both needed (though my Dad did manage to drag Ryan on a 45-mile bike ride).
Ryan and I hiked the bowl Easter Sunday. It was windy, but still super sunny and warm. The skiing wasn’t great, but I don’t really care about the skiing. I just love being there. I love that place.
I knew that would be my closing day because it was a perfect day. It was just us and the mountain — no costumes, no booze-saturated brain, no dancing on the tables and no hype.
The Aspen Princess really misses Catherine today. Email your love to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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