The Outsider: Meet spring, the temptress of the seasons
Spring is weird in the mountains.
For locals, it’s usually the first time we have a strong urge to get the hell out of here. The weather is warmer, the days are longer and, like just about any human anywhere, we start itching for sun. And no layers. And just one sheet at night.
Or at least I do. It’s probably why I still take a spring break trip to Arizona around this time every March. It’s a ritual by now: play golf, do some gambling and try my hardest to predict how the Rockies will finish based on spring training. As always, my hopes are high, and as always, I expect them to be dashed before the All-Star break. Sigh.
But disappearing right now isn’t an option for everyone. I’m lucky enough to work at one of the few jobs around here that doesn’t get slammed with several tons of craziness right now. For most, there’s still another month and a half of work (and spring break crowds) before Moab, or home or a beach somewhere. Just because locals want to leave doesn’t mean they can — there’s a vacation industry to maintain.
So I’m one of the lucky ones. But, there’s a part of me that wonders why I’d want to leave Summit County this time of year. Oddly enough, the reasons to stick around look almost exactly like the reasons for vacation: beers on a bright patio, park laps under bluebird skies, late-afternoon cruises down 4 O’Clock, not to mention the occasional midweek dump that’s here and gone before the weekend. It’s the best of all seasons bundled into one.
When I was prepping to leave for Arizona my roommate was getting ready for a morning at Copper. It was kind of gray and kind of windy, sure, and even though part of me already wanted to be playing golf, another part was tempted to put aside my sun-lust for two laps through the Woodward park. Just two. It reminds me of something local skier and recent Aspen Open winner Ethan Swadburg said:
“The thing about skiing is that it never feels like a burden to go on the mountain,” he told me. “There is nowhere else in the world where I feel as comfortable and as happy as I am on the mountain. You get to be outside with your best friends all day.”
I agree. If you want to see this philosophy in action, go watch any of Z Griff’s On The Hill videos from late February. The past few weeks might as well have been spring anyway — random snow and tons of sun, both no bueno for snowpack — and so he’s been getting creative, meeting up with a Hawaiian surfer at Copper and throwing tamedogs (aka front flips) off wind lips near 6 Chair in Breck.
I guess it just goes to show that spring is playtime for everyone, everywhere, no matter how moody and unpredictable it can be. We all love Mother Nature in winter, but spring is a different kind of love. She’s the fun-loving 20something on the side (yep) who convinces us to stay out longer and bare way more skin than we should. And it only gets better from here: pond skimming at Keystone and the Eenie Weenie Bikini Contest in Copper this April, then lounging on the beach at A-Basin until they decide to close.
I did the responsible thing and kept packing instead of taking park laps, but the whole thing got me thinking (as I was halfway through this column): My springtime dilemma — to golf or ride in March? — isn’t a dilemma at all. It’s more like fodder for a hashtag (#mtntownproblems, anyone?) It reminded me of an old bumper sticker saying — “My life if better than your vacation” — but it also reminded me of one more comment about life in the middle of a vacation destination, this time from an interview with local snowskater Clayton Conway:
“It’s the same Summit County working-man struggle as anyone else, but it’s a little more 90-pound rucksack, a little less getting up at noon,” he said about balancing snowskating with a new home, a new fiancée and life as a whole in the High Country. “We work hard and play hard, but that’s the mountain lifestyle. We do it because we love it.”
I agree. But, that said, everyone should switch out the rucksack for golf clubs on occasion, or skis or a snowboard. Cheers to vacation, whatever yours is.
Nevermind, Red Bull Orbital big air
This one never got off the ground, figuratively and literally. Way back in mid-February, Breckenridge and Red Bull announced what would have been a pretty cool concept: a pro-level big air at Freeway terrain park, complete with local pros Bobby Brown and Eric Willett under a laser light show (a la “Afterglow” by Sweetgrass). It was set for March 19, the same weekend as the GoPro Big Mountain Challenge on Peak 6. The two at once might have made for the best kind of spring craziness.
But, about two weeks after announcing the event, the resort and the beverage called things off. All other Breck Spring Fever concerts and activities will move forward, including the new Mountain Dew Spring Open on April 2 and Spring Fever Park Jams on April 1, 8 and 15. Here’s hoping Red Bull returns next year.
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