Had I taken the picture above two weeks ago, there would’ve been no whitish hue across the high peaks. However, every year about this time everyone here on the Front Range peeks up that way during their morning commute anticipating the first legitimate dusting of snow signaling the changing of the seasons. Yes, the leaves generally start changing colours a couple of weeks or so before the peaks get hit with white, but seeing the mountains change really opens the door for thoughts of the next season and all the powder days ahead.
Summer is always full of fun times filled with long days of hiking in the mountains amongst beautiful wildflowers, mountain biking along high ridges, strolling along Pearl Street with friends, music festivals, beer tastings and sitting outside at restaurants with friends long into the evenings. Then, invariably, come late August or early September, the wind will pick up one afternoon, it will smell different, maybe the rain comes and voila!, when you walk out the next morning to go to work, you feel that sharp bite in the air and you grab a jacket for the for the first time in three or four months.
When that scenario plays out, my little group of friends will typically kick into emergency mode and start getting all the season’s unfinished projects (mountain biking, climbing, etc) moved to front burner and completed before conditions dictate they be brought to a close. Just a few weeks ago we rode the Monarch Crest, a classic high altitude traverse down in Central Colorado, knowing that our window for dry trails (re:no snow) was closing fast due to the changing seasons. Sure enough, a week after we rode it, severe weather here across most Colorado pretty well closed out that opportunity for another year.
Another way we “celebrate” the changes of the seasons is by sequestering ourselves into my garage for an evening to prep the coming season’s gear. For the change from summer to winter activities, we have come to affectionately call these little soirees our “Wednesday, Wax and Whiskey Sesh”. These are nights when we pop the top on a beer or sample a little whiskey while we wax and tune our skis. We also catch up on the latest doings in each other’s lives and in the case of this past Monday, start dreaming about all the powder turns we’ll make in the coming season. Of course during the actual ski season, these Wednesday evening sessions (about every 4-5 weeks) will convert over to reminiscing about all the powder turns we’ve made thus far and naturally, those still yet to come.
I feel bad for people who don’t get out each and every season and have things they love to do. If I didn’t ski, winter would seem way longer than it already is. If I only skied and didn’t mountain bike, trail run, climb, fly fish and camp when it’s warm, summer would just be a time when I had to mow twice a week until winter came back. Making the changes from season to season is easy when you fully throw yourself into life and just have fun with what Mother Nature gives us! Like the saying goes, “No such thing as bad weather, only improper gear and clothing”. Embrace the changes!
So, as you see, I’m usually not all that opposed to changes. In fact, I see changes as opportunities for new experiences, new views and new paths. However, sometimes changes can kick you right in the gut, like the loss of a friend or a family pet, both of which happened in my little household this past month. While the passing of life is painful for the people still living, it is one of the realities of existing we simply can’t escape. Sitting along the Bagmati River in Pashupatinath, Nepal a couple of years ago, watching pyre after pyre being built and seeing the steady stream of the deceased being cremated right before my eyes brought this reality home in very guileless and unnervingly graphic terms.
While adapting to changing seasons can be fun, changes like losing the people and things you love is certainly tougher to adapt to. When this does happen, my therapy is generally to get on my bike and go for long, long rides, maybe strap on my skis and go for a nice, long tour in the mountains or simply go camp by a river and just have time to think. The point for me is not to escape, but to experience ALL the emotions fully, without filters. My meditation is to fall into the arms of the places I love and simply let go. When I do this, I can honestly learn to accept and more importantly, sincerely learn to heal.
Because of my spiritual and philosophical beliefs, I fully accept the reality of change and accept that there is nothing I can do that will ever stop it. What I can do though is live every day to the fullest, tell the people closest to me how much they mean to me, never let an opportunity for fun pass me by and sincerely live with no regrets. I’ll always miss my friends who have passed and definitely will miss the pets that I’ve loved, but I will always have the comfort going forward in knowing I’ve amassed an over-stuffed cache of good memories because I never let a day pass that I wasn’t up for a bit of fun.
Travel light, climb high, ski hard, pedal far, live big.