Quandary muddles over mud season
Quandary, the old and wise mountain goat, has been around Summit County for ages, and has the answers to all questions about life, love and laws in the High Country. Have a question for Quandary? Email your queries about Summit and the High Country to Quandary@summitdaily.com.
Are we in mud season?
No, but good try. Typically in Summit we get two seasons where the weather isn’t exactly sure what the hell it’s doing, and the tourists are less likely to visit.
The first of the slow seasons every year is mud season. It is what some people call “spring.” This time used to run from March through early June here, but Summit has become a major spring break destination, meaning March is no longer part of mud season, and depending on snowfall we might only get a month or so for this off-season. Summit’s spring popularity was well on the rise even before certain plants became legal, but it has continued to grow rapidly since then. Between skiing in T-shirt weather and nights in the hot tub, there really is no reason not to enjoy spring, except for the mass quantities of mud; hiking trails can get a little dicey this time of year. If you do decide to venture out on a trail, check conditions — Breckenrdige even has mud meters at many trailheads — and stay to the trail. Your shoes might get a little dirtier walking through mud puddles, but when people walk off the trail it widens it and can be damaging to sustainability. So, you know, don’t screw it up for everyone else.
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Summer has now thrown itself in the battle for tourism heavy weight, making a serious push to be just as popular as winter. This means increased tourism dollars in the summer and increased populations for those few months. Our summer popularity is also aided by the amount of second-home owners who can only bring their kids out in the summers, or who prefer the sunny-side of life. Think snowbirds who flock to a warmer climate for the winter and then migrate back in for the summer.
Once the aspens start changing, generally so do the tourism numbers. Trips to the mountains to view our changing foliage, however, have shortened this off-season, commonly known as shoulder season. When you think shoulder season, think September, maybe October.
Again, we are pretty much at the mercy of Mother Nature to determine how long all of our off-seasons will last. This one varies by the beauty of the fall foliage and how quickly the first snow hits. Usually Arapahoe Basin Ski Area and Loveland Ski Area are the first to start making snow and turning chairs, which generally brings shoulder season to a screeching halt. Expect to see skiers on the slopes in October yearly, but just how early into the month is the biggest question.
Considering that Loveland Ski Area is less than a week from turning on the snow guns, it’s easy to see why our off-seasons have gotten so much shorter. There is just way too much fun to have here to relegate to a couple seasons. Even now, festivals like Oktoberfest and the Breckenridge Film Festival break up the monotony of the slow season, meaning you really only have a few days to try and figure out what to do with yourself. Take it from the locals though, a little down time is not a bad thing.
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