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Aspen's Fond Farewell to Ski Season

Jamie Lynn Miller's picture

And on the Eighth Day, Aspen rested. It was like that final scene in 3:10 to Yuma, or any true western, where town is quiet and breath is baited and all life is hidden from view. If Ben Wade hadn’t left that hotel with Dan the Rancher, nary a tumbleweed would have blow into those deserted mid-afternoon streets.

Monday afternoon around 3:10 it was just the two of us, alone on the sidewalk. We were both headed to the library and had blown across the steps at nearly the same time. He had his headphones and his dark glasses on and his sweatshirt hood pulled up to create a little more shade across this mid-afternoon street, a day after the official end of ski season. I barely recognized him and he barely found his voice to say hello. “I’m so…drained,” he lamented. “I’m gonna get some movies and then go to bed!”

Another ski season, another five months of catering to the masses behind the bar at night and teaching the children of America during the day, another closing day celebration full-throttle and into the night - he was just another tired local, greeting the first Monday of off-season.

Closing eyes on Closing DayClosing eyes on Closing Day

It wasn’t the most prolific powder season, nor was it the most profitable in recent Aspen memory; but there were highlights. One of mine included the virtual non-existence of ski guilt, that nagging need to jump out of bed to catch the first bucket because it’s a powder day and a gift and people fly millions of miles to get here and we live right across the street and – and – hit the snooze button. It was OK to hit the snooze button this season. It was OK to join the crack-of-noon club (even become a charter member) because we might as well let the snow soften up and drink the whole press pot of coffee, while we’re at it.

So I was over-caffeinated and well-rested but more than that, there was an abundance of sunshine and random powder days that kept it interesting and an end-of-season dust storm that blew in from far-away lands: Mongolia, Arizona, Utah, Mars? So even though the slopes on closing weekend weren’t pretty, they were pretty slushy and everyone loves slush bumps.

Parties sprang up on Aspen Mountain like end-of-season ski sales, a gathering on Bonnie’s deck, a hullaballoo in the woods under Chair Three and hot dogs, burgers and beer at the bottom of Buckhorn, the perfect vantage point from which to watch the chaos and the costumes and choreographed descents to the keg.

Die-Hard RevelerDie-Hard Reveler

Unlike last weekend’s Highlands’ closing i.e. Halloween in April, Aspen’s last hoorah was more like Ms. Pac Man: you had to keep your eyes peeled to find the bonus creatures. For every six normally dressed skiers, there’d be a seventh whizzing by in a pink terrycloth bathrobe, a tele-skier in a Chippendales police outfit dropping a leather-panted knee or a guy in a neon one-piece, a little too tight for effective form, making his way down Face of Bell.

It was in the mid-50’s but that didn’t stop the Wolfman with full mask and Black Tie, or the Teletubbies: Purple lounged at the Sundeck, Red skied down Spar. Neither acknowledged the other. Xena the Scantily-Clad Warrior was more suitably dressed for the weather – provided she didn’t catch an edge.

Local Japanese eatery Takah Sushi celebrated the last night of the season with more dress-up games. “Come as your favorite rock star” inspired a very convincing Courtney Love, complete with unsettlingly smudged makeup and missing shirt button, while Belinda Carlisle served sake in a side ponytail and one-shouldered sweatshirt. Live music by local Jes Grew featured Willie Nelson, the braided years, with Angus Lee in red tie and parochial school uniform and Elton John in glitter, on keyboards.

Xena, Queen of the HillXena, Queen of the Hill

And Aspen said goodbye to old friends and local favorites, the Steak Pit/Double Dog corner of our world. Owners Bob and Cindy Glowacki ushered in the final hours of business with friends, fans and moments of exceptional banjo picking by Bob the Bartender. “Friend of the Double Dog’s a friend of mine” sang Bob, to a teary-eyed audience enjoying a more intimate rendition of the Grateful Dead’s “Friend of the Devil”.

On the Seventh Day there was ski season. And it was good.

Aspen Mountain will be open weekends, through April 24. Hopefully, the brown snow will blow back to Mongolia.

Photos Courtesy of Dana Rosen