This morning I needed to wander. I needed to look around, to marvel in mountain silence. I needed views and soft snow underfoot, time to myself. I needed to be distracted by things that don’t move, that don’t much change. I needed some tree hugging.
So I went on walkabout.
I walked to the top of Storm Peak from the top of Storm Peak Express. The much easier way is to wait a few moments for Morningside to open. That’s a peaceful way to travel up, as well, and probably more to the liking of non-crazy people. But I needed to wander, to sweat, to be silent. So I hoofed it up, early morning sunshine and my own heart warming me from head to toe. And then I hoofed it even farther up to the power towers and the gates on Mount Werner. And it was just me. A few birds, million-dollar views, foggy goggles, sparkly snow and me.
Some of my most cherished memories on this ski hill come from the tip top of the mountain. Taking my lifelong best pal and Steamboat native back to St. Pat’s after she’d been gone from it for 15 years. Watching my uber shredding hubby restore hotness to the sport of snowboarding. Giggling like kids with friends when we are lucky enough to be up on the East Face on a powder morning together. No kids, no jobs, no chores exist at that exact moment. Feeling the rush of a moment of steep dropping out below you in No Names. Realizing that Steamboat is the center of the universe as you look out at the Snowy Range, the Gore Range, the Never Summers, the Flat Tops, the Zirkels, the Sawatch, maybe even the Elks and Mt. Sopris on a clear, cold day.
It never fails. Being up there clears my mind, gets me grateful, sets me right. And the skiing ain’t bad either. St. Pat’s was super fun this morning. I hadn’t been there for a few weeks, and it has finally filled in from a few early-season slides. The snow is soft and fun. And again, it was just me. (Which was maybe a good thing as my steep skiing skills are a little rusty after a few weeks off). On the push back across Last Chance, I stopped for a few minutes to enjoy the shape of those tip top runs: the Chutes, Christmas Tree Bowl. I listened to birds. I listened to shadows. I listened to silence.
Even my ski down was peaceful and restorative. I slid over to Pony and skied Longhorn, a super carvy groomer. It felt like the longest, most luxurious groomer of my life. Now, the rush back to write this blog, the race home to get final items packed to move and meet contractors at the house, and the grout-cleaning project all seem more manageable. Thank you, mountains.
Now, I know not every skier wants to hike for their turns or ski steeps or sit around and listen to nothingness. But we can all find a moment of peace and solitude in our mountain mornings. On a gorgeous blue-sky January day in Steamboat, those moments aren’t hard to come by. Here’s hoping you all find yours somewhere out there today.
Happy Wednesday skiers and riders!
Ali Givnish, Alpine skier