This year’s Christmas travels have us in Aspen, Colorado. What a way to end the year. We’re at the summit of Ajax Mountain at over 11,000 feet — so high that we’re actually in the mist of a cloud. The sheer beauty of the mountains, the snow on the pines, the gentle schuss sounds. My family is dropping down the fall line across perfect corduroy snow well ahead of me. I stop to catch my breath and reflect on my blessings, especially at this time of year. I’m with my husband, daughter, son and his girlfriend on a sparkling, sunny day in the Rockies, looking up to a blue sky through the glitter of snowflakes floating above. The sun reflects off fresh powder weighing down the evergreens, the dried leaves of aspen papyrus whispering to my right. It’s the quiet beauty of winter. Perfection.
But it’s fleeting.
From out of nowhere, the startling scrape of a snowboarder bombing down the slope behind me destroys my winter daydream. He’s a wannabe shredder, behaving like he owns the place, oblivious to others on the mountain. An icy arc, as if from a colossal snow blower, shrouds me head to toe. The descent of my mountain nemesis at an insane speed has terminated abruptly — unsurprisingly — in a tail over teakettle wipe out inches from where I stand.
I breathe easily now that he’s down. I make sure he’s survived, brush myself off, return to my reverie and continue down the mountain.
Not all riders are reckless; I have family and friends who snowboard responsibly. I just wish that as a group they were less aggressive and more considerate, remained in control and showed more respect for sharing the terrain.
Catching sight of my family waiting for me ahead, I can’t get my son’s pronouncement of several years ago out of my head: “Snowboarding — it should have been a fad.”