Paul E. Anna: High Points
September 13, 2012
What a great storm we had this week.
On Wednesday I awoke at dawn with great anticipation. The front that had moved through on Tuesday afternoon and overnight had lowered temperatures, dropped steady rain and raised expectations that Sept. 12 might be the first snowfall of the new season.
I know that many of you are still hanging on to summer, dedicated in your beliefs that the bright sunshine, the warm temperatures and the long days represent the best of times here in the mountains. But I am of the mind that this is Ski Country USA and once Labor Day slips into the realm of nostalgia, then it is time for ski season. Bring on the snow early and often. Nothing could be better than a September dusting unless it is a September dumping.
So it was that I peered out from under the covers hoping to get a glimpse of a frosted 14er out of my rain-covered window. Alas the fog and cloud cover was so dense I was barely able to make out the lowest reaches of the surrounding peaks. But what I did see was spectacular. There, under the misty sky were wet reds and dramatic yellows. It seemed that overnight the color wheel and the palate of nature had taken hold and turned what had been summer green into a panoply of vibrant fall colors.
Sure there had been some foliage action earlier in the week. Nature knows that it too has some responsibilities once Labor Day rolls around, just like the rest of us. But the front, with colder temps and the prodigious moisture, seemed to rush the activity even faster and farther. It was pure fall, just like that.
Not much later my phone pinged as a mass email from Jeff Hanle at the Aspen Skiing Co. came through with the lead line “First Snow in Aspen!” It was the exclamation point that got me. I felt assured that when the sky actually cleared and the clouds lifted that the 14ers, Daly and Capital, and the mighty, though shorter Sopris, would all be capped in white. There was even a photograph to confirm Jeff’s exclamation point.
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But when I opened the photo my enthusiasm was muted at best. True, it was a stunning picture taken that very morning at the Bells. It showed spectacular color on the surrounding Aspen trees, but barely a hint, hardly a scoch of snow atop the peaks. And yes, scoch is real word. It means “not enough snow to get excited about.”
And at just the very moment that I was looking at the photo, the sky parted and I could see the crest of the peaks. They were clean from the rain but no snow covered them or even draped down the sides. It had been a bit too warm to get any snow out of this September storm.
But fear not. It was a great rain that came our way. On Channel 9 News that evening the Hanle photo was shown along with a graph saying that if the storm had been snow instead of rain it would produced a rocking 14 inches. That may have been a bit much, even for those of us who love to ski!
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