Ellwayville: Personal Peaks

Indeed, this was the craziest year ever. Election years are always a bit insane, but we began with a level of lies, animosity and outright thuggery like I have never seen before. And we ended up with it getting even worse.

It has also been a tough one for me because I recently held the kindest, most pure-hearted fuzzy friend I’ve ever had in my arms as she died. Ever since, I’ve been sending smoke signals up to Doggie Heaven. It was also crazy on a positive note because the Broncos won the Super Bowl, right when everyone in Elwayville might have been starting to wonder if any team in this town would ever wear another championship ring.

We should start there. Let’s start with feeling happy again. There have already been more than enough angry op-eds, blathering TV heads, and outright moments of insanity for everyone. So let’s not forget how to feel good, especially just because OUTRAGE is what the media has gotten best at selling. Here’s a little roundup of what I’m feeling really good about this season.

#1 The Ski Train

Is there a Nobel Prize for skiing? (There is apparently one for rock and roll—congratulations and exceedingly well earned, Bob Dylan!) But if alpine sports were to receive such an honor for promoting peace, powder, and goggle tans, the Winter Park Ski Train would be one of the first institutions to earn one. As a former ski train kid who fell in love with everything—mountain travel, athletic women, weekends in motion—while riding said train, my adult mind is reeling at the chance to ride the train again this winter, with the opportunity to avoid I-70 traffic for turns and indulge in a stiff libation on the relaxed ride back home.

#2 Earning Turns

Staying on the skin track, I’m also stoked about the ongoing growth of uphill skiing. Nothing eases the mind and works the body better than a good snow climb. As Sisyphean a task as it may seem to some, I think skinning gives you the chance to slow down and enjoy winter a little bit more than those folks counting up vert like airline miles. The sun seems sweeter, the snow squeakier, the turns more meaningful, and beer even colder when you get back to the bottom. I will be heading to Eldora and Monarch, who are both making a big commitment to uphill traffic this winter. I, for one, wish them much success enabling the uphill burn.

#3 Staying Friends with Friends

I’m not going to let us all off the political hook so easily. Boundaries have been crossed before and after this election. Most of us (#guilty) have made politically and perhaps personally charged statements in the heat of the moment that we might now regret. This is the perfect time to make amends. My parents, diehard Democrats, and their best friends, rank and file Republicans, never let politics get in the way of their love and respect for each other, and shared some very thoughtful, productive discussions. As a staunch Independent, I’ve never wanted to be chained to the dogma of either party, and like my parents and their buddies, continue to find in my own diverse community that we all still want the best for everyone. That’s not political, it’s human.

#4 Remembering How Good We’ve Got It

An old friend and colleague recently contacted me and asked me to help him tell his life story. A thoughtful, articulate, fiercely intelligent individual, he grew up in Cambodia during the reign of the Khmer Rouge. He witnessed and endured the kinds of atrocities and depravities most of us will thankfully never be able to imagine. It’s a rare gift to be able to share his story, and to hear how through sheer will and blind luck at times, he survived to find success here in Colorado and raise a strong family of his own. I’m most amazed at his great sense of humor, and how often after relating some harrowing tale, he will say, “I was very fortunate that time.” I tell him, “I think your definition of ‘fortunate’ is very different than mine.” We could all be a little more grateful for all the opportunities and amenities we enjoy in this country.

#5 Wintertime!

October is my favorite month, but winter is my favorite season. Being outside in the cool air with the beauty of the blank landscape feels better than just about anything. Whether it’s skiing, stargazing or just walking around town with the love of my life, I’m always inspired by cold weather and snow. It’s the wonder of the West that we get to revel in it for so long. Be safe. Have fun. Be nice to someone.

—Elevation Outdoors editor-at-large Peter Kray is the author of The God of Skiing. The book has been called “the greatest ski novel of all time.” Don’t believe the hype? You can buy it here:

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