Brandon

It should be the time of year when we’re ordering ski season accoutrements, taking ski-conditioning classes and watching Warren Miller films, all the while fanning the flames of ski stoke for a winter of fun. The pandemic has far surpassed the worst house guest in history, and has ruined fun, school, holidays and, yes, even ski-season stoke.

Last year I would have written this column and said, “I ordered new skis and I can’t wait! I got a screamin’ deal!”

This year, I can tell you, “I ordered new skis.” And calmly end the sentence with a period. Also, I got a great deal. I’m not ungrateful. I am, in fact, pretty stoked for the skis and the ability to ski them sometime in the near future. I’m just not getting my hopes up since, you know, pandemic.

This year’s Warren Miller ski film was shown virtually. There were giveaways and the promise of eliciting ski stoke via an in-home experience. I read this and tried to remember the date and time advertised. And then the COVID-dial decided that it would turn from yellow to orange to an unknown shade of burnt sienna, and I lost interest. I simply didn’t have much appetite, despite it being readily available in the privacy of my own home. So much for an in-home ski movie.

I hiked the Ajax Trail on Sunday to scout the snow on Aspen Mountain, and while snowmaking efforts are laudable, Saturday’s snow squall took the snow we had and dispersed it in every direction except on the mountain. Just a week prior, Corkscrew had turns on it, but by Sunday those turns were all but forgotten after the wind got a hold of them.

By the way, I should share that yours truly was hiking the Hunter Creek loop during said snow squall, and if that kind of wind and cold doesn’t suck any and all ski stoke out of you, well then a pandemic just might. I’ll take hot cocoa on draught in my living room until this all blows over, thank you very much.

OK, fine, I’ll turn this frown upside down and get over it, right? Wrong. Therein lies the problem. We want to pull ourselves up by the bootstraps and keep on keepin’ on with smiles on our faces. While I’m going to keep on and will even encourage others to do the same, there is no sense in not acknowledging all of the loss along the way. At least we can use sarcasm to cope when we finally do acknowledge the crap sandwich that is available both hot and cold right now. I hear Sriracha really adds to the flavor profile.

Skiing, once we actually hit the slopes, is going to be great. Crisp, fresh air blowing in our faces as we whoosh down white corduroy ribbons is always a good time. The lines getting there may be challenging, so let’s acknowledge that elephant in the room. If you’ve never purchased heated gloves or at the very least, a case of hand-warmers, this might be the season to do so.

Lift lines are outside as it turns out, so it might behoove you to make the extra layer a necessity in the coming months.

I just did a pandemic stock up at Walmart over the weekend. While picking up items we routinely use, this question came up, “but will there be a shortage of cashews/black beans/thank you cards?” It was the 2020 version of shopping at the general store on the Oregon Trail without 20-pound bags of flour. Hopefully neither of us gets dysentery, because we bought cold medicine, but skipped Pepto-Bismol. And while thank-you cards and blank stationary may seem frivolous, winter is long and sending mail might just help when you need it most.

Yeah, so things are good, except I’m spent. You’re spent, we’re all spent. And the fourth-­quarter analogies need to be reeled in since we only seem to be in the first inning of this never-ending game of cricket. Just like participation ribbons before them, new colors will be added to the COVID-19 safety dial to please the masses. If you don’t want red to ruin your life, simply add purple.

I’m just saying ski season is going to be a little different this year. Expect less. Pack snacks. Maybe you won’t ski 100 days, but any day you find on the hill or simply outside is a day to relish and remember. At least no one will jump your gondola car at the last minute.

Misery loves company and we are surrounded. We just need to be miserable in shifts. Why? Because teamwork makes the dream work.

The true spirit of skiing and being outside is rooted in life’s simple pleasures. Try like hell to use that as a touchstone and we’ll be stronger for it in the end. Whenever that is.

Keep social distancing social. Encourage friends, family and coworkers to keep the ski-town stoke alive in their hearts. We live in the mountains and can frequently experience cotton candy skies and fresh air, which is pretty sweet and something for which I am eternally grateful.

  

Beth is looking for silver linings. She can be reached at bethabrandon@hotmail.com