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Fond farewell to another season

It’s that time of year once again, when the readjustment of life begins. The ski lifts have closed and the days have a different glow now that skiing’s not on the agenda. All, or at least most, hopes and aspirations of winter have been realized, or dashed, depending on the case. If you were aiming for 100 days on the hill and only made 85, well, that’s the final count for this year. Perhaps you were gonna ski Highland Bowl at least once this winter, but woke up on April 4 without getting it done. Odds are it’s not going to happen very soon, but you could make a mental note to raise the altitude on your attention span next winter. Oh, sure, you could put on the skins and hoof it up, but do you really think you might? There’s always tomorrow, but for now, the tomorrows have run out. Except for those things you’ve put off all winter, those things you thought could wait until later. Later has arrived and some things need attention, the sooner the better. It might have been prudent if you’d skied fewer days, but that’s just not the way it works in a ski town.Good ski runs are a little like smoke – their essence only lasts for about as long as it takes to get back to the top for another one. You laugh and smile all the way up the chairlift or gondola, talking about this line or that face-shot, getting air here, or surviving a close call there, or who’s going out with whom – and before you know it, the next run is done and it becomes the new focal point of discussion. You go home and put your feet up, trying to remember the best of the many layers of exhilaration, but mostly there’s a blur of realization that it was a stellar day. And now, we can say it was a dynamite season. Skiing’s a funny game, when you get right down to it. We all have our group of “ski buddies” we beat it up and down the mountain with, friends that we see with unchallenged consistency, even if only for an occasional run or bowl of soup. That’s in the winter, of course. If you’re like me, most ski friends are winter friends, and summer, well, that’s another story. As the lifts close, the nostalgia creeps up on most of us, taking us a little by surprise. A last run down the Face of Bell, by yourself with no one in sight on the entire area, gives one pause to think of the good times that were had, and how short it all seemed to be. It wasn’t that long ago that we were making the first ride of the season up the mountain, wondering how good the snow was gonna be and wondering how many friends we were going to see from last year. Those questions have all been answered, and already, at least for me, I’m wondering how it’s going to be next year. For some, the end of the season couldn’t come soon enough. Maybe they’re nursing the hangover from an ACL repair, or maybe they had a rotator cuff overhauled and have been looking forward to “spring break” for a while now. No matter where, just a warm, long way off from Aspen. But you know they’re thinking about next year as well.I’ve got a pasture full of horses to ride, some work to do around the place, and really should, at least, take a road trip up north somewhere. First, I have to throttle down, get used to a more laid back daytime pace, and give my mind, as well as my body, a little room to readjust its focus.But wouldn’t you know, just as I felt the slowdown coming, I looked out my window this morning and caught a glimpse of a snow-covered Mount Sopris staring me down. A lot of vertical, both up and down, and the energy won’t quite subside. Tony Vagneur is thinking about a summer ski trip down south. Catch his column here every Saturday and e-mail him at ajv@sopris.net


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