My worst nightmare: Trapped in the city on a powder day |

My worst nightmare: Trapped in the city on a powder day

It’s any local snowboarder’s nightmare: Stranded in the city during Colorado’s biggest blizzard in 90 years.

There are many people who believe that snow is not a beautiful thing.

And if your closest encounter with it all winter is shoveling 900 pounds of it off your car in the middle of a city, hoping it doesn’t break through a roof, take out a nearby power line, or send a loaded tree branch down onto your head, I can see why it might seem less than magical.

Growing up in Denver and traveling to the High Country to ski on the weekends, the prospect of getting stranded in the mountains during a big storm seemed like the greatest adventure on earth. What could be better than to be stuck in a ski resort, where the new powder was all yours the next morning and the crowds were kept at bay on the other side of the pass?

Stranded on the city side, however, is far less alluring. It turns the adventure right around and shoves it headfirst into a slushy snowbank with a fire hydrant buried underneath.

There were sore shoulders and broken shovels and spells of urban cabin fever. But the worst part of it was the phone calls from my regular ski pals unaware of my city imprisonment who enthusiastically left messages wondering what time we should hit the hill in the morning. Or the calls from so-called friends aware of my situation (and my Missing Out complex), informing me on the epic days they were having in waist-deep euphoria without me.

Although my ears were ringing with ghostly memories of outdoor voices hooting and hollering while shredding a fresh line down a steep on a powder morning as I stared longingly at the mountains from the midst of a snow-covered world of concrete, the blizzard in the city experience wasn’t all bad. For one thing, it gave me renewed respect for city folk and their appreciation of the outdoors, regardless of its status of being concrete-laden.

Despite the appalling damage caused by last week’s storm, not all Denverites were cursing the snow.

Had any of my gear been in tow, I could have made the best of my chosen mountain lifestyle on the streets of downtown Denver, where other individuals flocked to the middle of the two-foot mounds covering Speer Blvd. and Broadway last Tuesday morning with their crosscountry skis, sleds and snowshoes.

On a day that those streets would normally be filled with bumper-to-bumper rush hour traffic at 8 a.m., last Tuesday they contained living postcards of entire families making snowman masterpieces on their lawns and happily drilling each other with snowballs in the middle of the street.

Nonetheless, there’s no place like home.

I’m making a vow to stay put in the High Country for the remainder of the winter. Should I become stranded again, I want to be sure I’m within reach of my snowboard and a mountain. If I ever again find myself skiing through rush hour on a powder day, I’m going to be pointed downhill. As for my close encounters with snow … they better be face shots from the ground up.

Shauna Farnell can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 236, or at

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