Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A COLORADO ROCKY MOUNTAIN HIGH

Spring Break for the Hay family means heading west and into the mountains

HEAD FOR THE ROCKIES. After a long, cold winter and just when the signs of spring are beginning to emerge, Spring Break arrives with its offer of respite and recreation. Lots of folks head south for the beaches. But our family heads for the Rockies. This is the 10th year we've made our way to Breckenridge, Colorado for a week of skiing and snowboarding amid mountain grandeur. What would otherwise be out of our budget range is affordable via the hospitality of David and Lillie, Becky's folks. So, I'm grateful to be posting this entry on my laptop while glancing up at snow falling on the mountain peaks just outside the condo's windows this morning.

ALL IN A DAY'S FUN. In a little while, we'll pull on our gear, ride a shuttle to the chair lifts and spend the balance of the morning surfing down the trails. Snowboarding gives me the same kind of simultaneous release, relaxation, and invigoration as water skiing or a hard bicycle ride. We pack our lunch and store it in lockers at a mountain-top restaurant. Afternoon skiing and snowboarding becomes a matter of adventure and attrition. There's a lot of mountain to explore. Breckenridge has developed downhill trails of varying degrees of difficulty on four peaks. But a body can only take so much in one day. By mid-afternoon, family members head back inside, one by one. I try to stay on the mountain as long as I can or until the lifts close at 4:00 pm, whichever comes first.

DEALING WITH THE COLD. This year it is not so much fatigue as it is the cold that is cutting into our trail time. Spring skiing in Breckenridge usually means 30-40-degree temps on the mountain and plenty of sunshine. This year, we're having generous snowfall every day, the temps are in the teens and twenties, and strong winds whip. I don't feel the impact so much gliding down the mountain as I do on the 10-minute chair lift ride to the top of a long run. For every 10-minute descent that is invigorating, there is a 10-minute ascent on a chair lift that can chill you to the bone. Good cold-weather gear minimizes the impact of the cold and wind, but after four or five hours, it takes its toll. This is not a complaint (no whining), just a reality of the sport and environment. I find that a good bowl of soup or hot chocolate at a mountain-top restaurant in the middle of the afternoon does the trick and spurs me on to ride my board to the end of the day.

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