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Until recently, I largely lived out of suitcase. Well, a duffle bag to be more precise—and a poorly organized one at that. Trips would stack up one after another, and I’d often get home with just enough time to do laundry, fold it and pack it right back up. I realized after a while that it didn’t really matter that the same clothes were being rotated as the cast of characters would rarely be the same at any destination, so they were none the wiser that I was wearing the exact same thing I wore last week (and probably the last month for that matter).
I’m a professional skier—the luckiest guy in the world—getting to travel the world doing what I love. However, while it may appear via social media and ski films that it’s all deep powder, helicopters and rainbows, in reality it’s a lot of long flights, sketchy avalanche conditions and expectations that never seem to be met. Of course, it’s still amazing and there’s no other way that I’d rather make a living, but the difference between what’s portrayed and reality is often stark. The dogma that things can always be done faster, bigger or in some more exciting fashion is ubiquitous, and it seeps into everything from travel days to hiking couloirs. Skiing? Gotta go as big as one can. Driving? The shot will probably be better if I’m going faster. Eating? What’s the biggest thing on the menu…how can we turn this into a contest?
My point is, I’ve rarely, if ever, slowed down. Of course, there’s down days, but in the back of one’s mind there’s always a nagging voice, questioning is this okay? The idea of a vacation never really occurred to me. Or, if it did, relaxing needed to be coupled with some sort of other adventure to rationalize it. So, when the idea of Snowmass came up I, the ultimate activity spaz, decided for once, maybe just kick back and enjoy it. No pressure I told that voice in my head.
Friday 4:45PM: We cruise into the Crestwood Condos and briefly debate if there’s still time to squeeze in a mountain bike ride. Remembering that a big part of recharging is not putting the pressure on oneself to do everything immediately, we opt instead to kick back on the deck with a beer. We walk over to Snowmass Village and grab one of the better dinners I’ve had all year at Il Poggio. Maybe this unrushed pace isn’t so bad.
Saturday 8:15AM: Despite my best efforts to sleep in, I just can’t shake the habit of getting up at sunrise. We go for a leisurely hike—slow enough to still be sipping coffee—before picking up some ebikes from Four Mountain Sports. From there it’s a mellow ride down to Woody Creek Tavern for lunch. The rides long but downhill and we happily cruise on what feels like our own private bike path down to one of Hunter S. Thompson’s old haunts.
12:30PM: We saddle up at the storied tavern and fill ourselves with what seems like an aggressive amount of food for our long bike ride to Maroon Bells and then back to Snowmass. Having never rode an ebike, all I can think to myself is these better live up to the hype.
3:00PM: While I’ve been fortunate enough to see many iconic mountains, the dramatic reveal of The Maroon Bells as we round the final bend into the parking lot stands out as one of my favorites. With bikes far out numbering cars on the road, the pedal may be the most enjoyable road bike ride I’ve ever been on. Plus, my post-meal bike fears were unrealized and I feel like an absolute hero thanks to the ebike. We walk around, snap far too many pictures and I eye up some potential ski lines for some time down the road. Surely thinking about more aggressive adventures is permitted.
6:15PM: We ride back to Snowmass and enjoy an early dinner before an evening cocktail on the deck back at the condo. Maybe this vacationing thing isn’t so bad, I think to myself before heading to sleep.
Sunday 9:00AM: While I’ve enjoyed the leisurely pace thus far, that adrenaline-seeking part of me is dying to be satiated. I’m not on the first gondola to go mountain biking, but I’m pretty close. Somehow, after spending nearly thirty years in the mountains, I still don’t dress appropriately for the roughly 3,000’ elevation gain. The chill only lasts a moment as I drop into the trails, taking as much speed as I can into the tacky, yet manicured dirt of the various bank turns and jumps. I get a few laps in before the inevitable call of the road gets to me. Just as well…was probably getting a little overly confident on the bike and those trails are going to be covered with snow before I know it.
12:45PM: Taking advantage of the late check out, we squeeze in one last bite from Fuel. I try to quell that sense of urgency knowing the trek home that’s ahead of us and, for once, that subconscious drive seems to subside. While I can’t say I completely quieted that restless voice in my head, I do think I’ll be taking a bit of that Snowmass mentality with me on my next adventure.