Already a successful Aspen ski season and not just for the obvious reason

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I’m already considering my ski season a success, considering, one month ago, I was uncertain how it was going to feel ascending the slopes on skins or hurling down on alpine boards. I found out last weekend that both felt great.

I’ve always shrugged off warnings by siblings and friends that getting old is a bitch. “Whatever,” I told myself, “I’ll deal with it.” I’ve been blessed with good health, stable knees and, until recently, a sturdy back. I was feeling in excellent shape in late September after an extended hiking and backpacking trip, first to the Northwest, then to Utah. The wet weather at the start of October was little deterrence because I was hitting the Gym of Basalt frequently for classes.

Then, mini-disaster struck. I was scrambling around one frigid October morning moving garden hoses and clearing the way for the dudes that were coming to winterize my sprinkler system. I was shoving a stiff, unwieldy hose into an outside storage box when the lid started falling. Instead of just letting it go, I thrust my hips forward in an awkward way and instantly knew I royally screwed up my lower back. It nearly dropped me to my knees.

I bounced back to full health in seven weeks with patience, constant core-strengthening exercises, patience, three trips to an excellent chiropractor and more patience.

Ascending Snowmass to Sam’s Knob was a delight on Saturday — not only because the conditions were as good as they ever got last season but because I was pain free. Skiing the powder and the light, buttery crud on Sunday on alpine skis was even better.

I truly sympathize with folks suffering from chronic lower back pain. I couldn’t sit for more than 30 minutes without being frozen in a painful stoop. I’ve decided I’m going to play it smarter from here on out. Life will continue if I give up burpees, man-makers and box jumps. Hell, I could even say goodbye to squats with nary a tear. And I’ll definitely let that damned yard work go an extra day rather than rush through it and risk injury again.


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