Quandary talks ski resort closing estimates and antlers vs. horns
WHEN DO THE SKI RESORTS CLOSE?
All these bluebird days can make a mind start to wander and a skier start to worry, but there should still be plenty of snow-filled runs in your future. Depending on what resort you consider your usual haunt you might even have months left this season. However, for most of the resorts in Summit, the projected closing date falls in the week of April 13. The good news: That gives you another month of tearing up Peak 8 or night skiing at Keystone. The bad news: That only gives you a month. Have no fear, though. This is only the preliminary closing date. This old goat has been caught in enough spring storms to tell you that the date might get pushed back.
If A-Basin is more up your alley, you’re even luckier. The Basin tries to stay open until at least the second week in June, longer if possible. You might get a bath as you’re carving turns, but at least you’re still on the mountain. Just be sure to lather on as much sunscreen as possible, and realize the hotter the day the faster you’re going to wear out.
The other advantage of late closing dates? The Colorado doubleheader. Welcome to one of the few places in the country where if you can fit golf clubs and skis in your car, you can use them in the same trip. This goat recommends starting the day on the hill, then hitting the links. A lot of times you can get cheaper tee times in the twilight hours, and there might be fewer people to contend with. Even if you ski until the lifts close, you should still be able to fit in at least nine before you need a glow-in-the-dark ball. Again, remember that in the High Country you’re never truly alone. Us four-legged hazards live and play on the golf course, too, so be vigilant if you are enjoying an evening on the course.
Regardless of when the mountains officially close, it’s time to make the most of all the ski days you have left. Remember when the flakes start flying, the boss’ phone can start ringing.
DO ANIMALS LOSE THEIR ANTLERS?
Yes, all those fair-headed animals with their dainty branches do lose them in the winter or spring. Those of us with horns however, keep them for a lifetime. Horns are blood-pumping, awe-inspiring daggers of doom, worn proudly on an old goat’s head until the day he dies. Antlers, on the other hand, grow and die many times in an animal’s lifetime. Colorado’s antlered animals include deer, moose and elk, while those of the horned variety include the mighty mountain goat, pronghorn antelope, bighorn sheep and buffalo.
According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, antlers are bone covered with skin and hair (aka velvet). They grow anew every year in the spring and summer, and by the time the winter rolls around the blood vessels near the skull have closed up and the entire antler will eventually fall off. This means those impressive racks you see on an elk have grown from bony nubs to branches in merely three to four months. Horns, on the other hand, are formed with karetin on the outside, and if you lose ’em, you don’t get ’em back.
Antlers are rich in calcium and so, once they drop, the little varmints eat them up quickly, which makes finding one on the ground impressive in itself. Have you ever wondered why big antlers make a bull elk the apple of a cow’s eye? It’s all about the calcium. The ability to grow a big rack is proportional to the animal’s diet and genetics. Generally, the larger the rack the healthier the elk or deer.
When you think about it, it makes sense that animals would lose their antlers in the winter. Once mating is done, they have lost that purpose, and only elk have really learned to use their antlers to compete for food. Therefore, it doesn’t make sense to carry around that extra weight for no serious benefit. Deer would have to consume extra food to keep the antlers viable, and in the winter, that’s not always a realistic option.
When animals lose their antlers it isn’t in one fell swoop, either. In fact, it can take days after losing one antler for the other to drop off. It’s nice to see those branchy-headed show-offs get knocked down a peg or two in the winter months, but I always know they will pop back up bigger and better. Just remember, when you see a deer strutting around in October looking so proud of himself, not far away, there’s a goat that’s been horny all his life.
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