On The Hill: When April acts like Trump
Don’t hate an April blizzard. It just is.
As I sit here trying to write (aka browsing the web and stoking the fireplace), all I’m hearing about is the spring storm to end all spring storms: on the radio, on Open Snow, on Facebook, on our very own Twitter feed. A few people are simply talking about it, with no strong feelings one way or the other, while vocal groups on both sides are either stoked for a bonus powder weekend or freaking out that their flights to Cancun, Bali, Fiji, Nicaragua — wherever near a beach — might be hampered by this freak dump of two to four feet. Strange how snow chatter is so close to political chatter.
When I finally find my words around 10 a.m., the flakes are falling lightly and peacefully over Breckenridge, like gray ashes wafting away from a campfire — the type of snow we usually see on a cold February morning. High above are pockets of blue sky peaking through mist-like clouds over the Tenmile Range. It’s an unlikely combination so common in the Colorado mountains: snow and sky, all at once. And, like a true spring storm, hardly anything is sticking to the ground or street or trees. For now.
What does this all mean for the April Snowmageddon? It means it’s all happened before. By the time you read this on Saturday morning we’ll either be in the thick of it or we won’t, or Mother Nature might just be warming up for the finale on Sunday. I honestly have no preference — how’s that for a moderate stance? — and I won’t begrudge her a bit of randomness late in the ski season, even if it means way more snow than I ever expected so close to absolute last chair.
One of my most vivid memories of a snowy April comes from the record-setting snow year of 2010-11, when just about every resort along the Interstate-70 corridor broke or came close to breaking snow total records: Breck with 507 inches (record), Vail with 511 inches (another record), Keystone with 331 inches (nearly a record), Copper with more than 380 inches (another near-record), Loveland with 520 inches or so (short of the 1995-96 record of 572 inches). My numbers might be off by an inch or two, but you get the gist. S–t was wild that second spring of President Obama’s first term.
On closing day at Vail that season — Easter Sunday, April 24 — I had every intention to take it easy and hang on a deck, hopefully double-fisting a beer and suntan lotion. But the season that wouldn’t stop had other ideas. It brought another 14-plus inches in 12 hours overnight, and so I had no choice but to charge the Back Bowls. I rode Chair 21 for 54,000 vertical feet (my best of the season) between cornice drops into more than a foot of untouched fresh. When I got back home to Edwards, I capped off the day with a bike ride to and from the Riverwalk for that beer I’d been craving.
Absolutely nothing about the record-setting season was predictable, and, by the time noon rolled around, that was just fine with me, along with the dozen or so powder hounds I kept seeing in the lift line. Their whoops and hollers echoed across the bowls and into Blue Sky Basin. The ash-like flakes were falling. The vibe still felt like closing day — I ran into a group of three skiers dressed in caution-yellow hazmat suits — while the riding felt more like an abandoned Tuesday in March. So weird but so rewarding.
There’s a “South Park”-style point buried in there somewhere: Whether it’s an unexpected powder day or a completely unexpected presidency, the trick is to personally make the most of the hand that’s dealt, with as much clarity and good humor as possible. Dealing with humanity isn’t quite so simple, especially in politics, but finding the right mentality is half the battle, and it’s most definitely the first battle you fight before diving headfirst into the messiness of reality. Or April powder. Or an election booth. Or whatever.
So, when spring is as unlikely and frustrating as a certain Republican candidate — or the Democratic candidate eight years before him — there’s no need to see it as a sign of the apocalypse. It just is. Two weeks from now Facebook will be back to talking about politics and puppies, the weekend’s fresh snow (if we get any) will be gone, and the moderate in me will be glad Mother Nature doesn’t feed off the Internet’s doom and gloom. It just is.
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