Most of us have a love/hate relationship with life in the mountains. We admire the happy-go-lucky attitude, but we hate how no one is ever on time or can meet a deadline (What’s a deadline?) We adore the clean air and gorgeous surroundings, but we get irritated by the, ahem, other people who crowd our (yes OUR) towns and slopes. We dig how laid back folks are about their jobs without concern for climbing a ladder, but the job market can fluctuate wildly. But for me, the biggest issue I had with living up in Xanadu was summer. I know, I know, summer in the mountains is spectacular. Hell, the reason most people end up living in a ski town for 20 years is because someone says “Oh, you have to stay for the summer- it’s the bestest ever!” And of course, they stick around and it IS pretty sweet. No humidity, never too hot, tons of sun, cool nights to sleep with the windows open and plenty of things to do outside when you wake up. Paradise.
And no sooner do you start dreaming about freshies, when fall rolls in and everyone gets amped for skiing again. So you say “Well shucks, I might as well stay another season right? I wonder if Biff will let me sleep in his garage again?” Before you know it, the one ski season you promised your parents becomes a lifetime.
All because of that first summer. In the immortal words of Wooderson in “Dazed and Confused”, it is L-I-V-I-N!
But after a few years of this seasonal cycle, I noticed a problem- one that just started to wear on my patience like a smoker in a lift line. Getting to actual summer-like weather… took forever! Here’s a photo I got from a buddy in Breckenridge on June 20th of this year:
Here’s the thing: it just started to wear on me. Don’t get me wrong, I love, love, love skiing as much as the next snow angel, but after 7 months of cold, I needed a break! I wanted to start doing the OTHER stuff Colorado is famous for: mountain biking on the 401 in C-B, bagging a 14’er in the Collegiates, running the Peaks Trail on the 10-Mile range, or camping under the stars in the Eagles Nest Wilderness.
Hell, I just want to wear some damn flip-flops!
But every year, I would play the same cruel game with myself, somehow thinking spring and summer would arrive as soon as the lifties went back to Brazil. I’d look at the calendar and see that it was May. I’d think “Well, May is like, SPRING in most places right? I’ll be flying down the Flumes Trail on my Trek in no time!” So I’d wait. And Wait. And wait some more. Then it would snow a foot. I’d hit the Basin for a few days here and there and drink beers on “The Beach”. Maybe take the annual trip to Moab or Fruita to see if the bike still worked. I’d visit friends in Boulder and Castle Rock to hang out on a deck and wear shorts. Just waiting. But after a while I’d realize anything even resembling summer, wasn’t comin’. Sure, we would get teased with some warm days in the mid-60’s by June, but then it would always snow again and drop into the 40’s. Back to square one.
And unless you had the moolah to run off to a surf camp in Costa Rica for a couple months, you just had to tough it out until, (let’s be really honest here shall we?), July. You know and I know it. Above 8000’ feet, it doesn’t feel even remotely like honest-to-God summer until July.
But when summer does arrive, it’s everything we remembered it to be. Just like…. Ahhhhhhhhhhh.
But then as soon as I had a chance to break in the new pair of Rainbows, it would be over. The chill came back into the breeze. I had to dig out the puffy for any late August camping trips. Keeping my windows open at night was no longer comfortable, just cold. Summer was already headed south for the winter by, what, Labor Day? Yeah, that’s about right. How many times has it snowed on Labor Day in YOUR town? And we can all agree snow on Labor Day is not the sign of a good winter ahead. It’s just a drag.
It was just started to go by too fast.
So that brings me back to my earlier point (I had one didn’t I?) about our Catch-22 feelings with calling Colorado’s mountain towns our home. Well, not my home anymore. I moved away about 2 years ago and if there’s one thing I really do enjoy about my life down here in the flatlands, it’s that summer arrives when it’s supposed to. And as much as you might hate to admit it, you’re jealous that I get to wear shorts in May and go to the ocean. But that’s okay. I’ll be jealous of you again in October.
Your Rocky Mountain Ex-Pat: Roger Mecca
To read Roger’s previous post click HERE
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