From about 1986 to 1989, roughly my junior high school years, Breckenridge was my home mountain. My mom would drop me and a friend or two off at the Peak 9 parking lot in the morning and pick us up there at 4:30 p.m. We spent many of the hours in between looking for good jumps along Peak 10’s Cimarron. These were the days of spread eagles, backscratchers, and, my personal specialty, daffys — but not of purpose-built terrain park convenience. So once we found a decent kicker, we’d commence to pull lap after lap on the Falcon SuperChair, logging countless vertical feet on the same trail, in order to practice our Hot Dog-style moves one jump per run at a time. Next thing you know, it’s late afternoon and mom’s waiting. It was a simpler age.
Simple, however, is not how I’d describe our day at Breckenridge on December 28, 2015. For starters, I forgot our skis.
Yep, you read that right. We got up, loaded the car at a leisurely pace, and headed west, me telling the boys about where I wanted to take them, what I wanted them to ski. And then, about 15 minutes from home:
“What?” Michelle said, looking around in a panic.
“I forgot the skis.”
We raced back to the house. Then raced up to Breckenridge where the boys and I raced around the mountain and Dade had to occasionally race to the nearest restroom because his stomach wasn’t quite right.
Our goal was to ski at least one run on Peak 6, Peak 7, and Peak 8, and to spend some quality time on the backside of Peak 9 and in The Burn on Peak 10 — the two areas that ultimately eclipsed Cimarron as my favorite junior high-era terrain, and have endured as go-to territory during my adult skiing days.
And we did all that. Midway down The Burn, in fact, we paused to catch our breath. I told the boys a little bit about the history of the forest fire and that many of the trees we were carving turns around now were mere saplings when I was their age and experiencing the area for the first time. Over on Peak 9, we hit Inferno and Devil’s Crotch, two double black diamonds (one with an obviously awesome name … I had a t-shirt when I was 13!) that Dade and Roan made look much easier than I remember them being when mom was still carting me to and from the mountain. So, yes, we got it all done.
But here’s the thing: Because of all that racing around, and because I had an agenda — and the boys knew I had an agenda — it felt like work. Like we were out there with a checklist just wanting to mark off each item so we could move on. “Okay, we’re done with that one, Dad. What do we have to do next?”
And that’s definitely not what this project is all about. We don’t have to do any of it. Skiing is freedom. And peace. Not a grind. To that end, we’ve made a pact. We’re going to keep it simple. If we find one run we want to do over and over, we’ll do it. If we want to take a break for hot chocolate and a ski-lodge brownie — better yet, one of those ski-lodge brownies smashed into a ski-lodge Rice Krispies treat (you know what I’m talking about) — we’ll do that, too. Simple.
Oh, and I promise to not forget the skis again. That will help.