6:34 a.m. Saturday, January 16, 2016. Dade, Roan, and I pulled out of the driveway en route to Ski Cooper. We were 30 minutes behind schedule. Michelle was originally scheduled to roll with us, but she couldn’t stomach skipping the Broncos’ game, a divisional playoff against the Steelers, on Sunday. She kissed us goodbye and we hit the road.
6:58 a.m. By now, we were officially stuck in traffic somewhere between Green Mountain and Floyd Hill, and my trusty CDOT app was showing yellow, red, and black all the way through Eisenhower Tunnel. Oh well. As I’ve explained to the boys, “you gotta pay to play.” Earlier in the week, Dade had asked me to pack some old school rap music for the road. Creeping along I-70 seemed like a good time to introduce him to Public Enemy’s It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back. Bring the noise!
10:34 a.m. Arrived at Ski Cooper. Yep, it was a four-hour drive, but …
… midway down our first run on Powderkeg — not 30 minutes after stepping out of our vehicle — I already had a smile. The jam-packed traffic and snow-packed roads and overturned 4Runner (“That’d sure ruin a perfectly good ski weekend, wouldn’t it, boys?”) were already distant memories, like a mildly stressful dream that maybe didn’t even happen at all. And then we were racing down Mother Lode to Timberbash so who even cares if it did or didn’t. We were skiing, and when we’re skiing, that’s really all that matters in the world.
12:28 p.m. No time for a regular lunch break, so we ate sandwiches and elk sticks on the Piney Basin Triple Chair while Roan told jokes. Normally, I maintain a strict no-kid-jokes-allowed policy. Seriously, they’re awful, and if you claim to enjoy your son’s or daughter’s or niece’s or little cousin’s knock-knock jokes, you’re either sucking up to the adult who’s paying the closest attention to your son or daughter or niece or little cousin at the moment or you’re a grandparent. I’m neither, but I was eating a ham sandwich on a chairlift under a bright blue sky with my boys, so I figured what the hell.
“Go ahead, Roan.”
“What’s the difference between a tuna, a piano, and a glue stick?”
I’m not going to type up the punchline. You’ll have to ask him to tell it. But he played it to perfection — the delivery, the timing, everything — and I did get a good laugh out of it. Which should tell you everything you need to know about the kind of mood I was in.
1:37 p.m. Based on the map alone, a run called Corkscrew seemed a good candidate for Ski Cooper’s toughest trail. It’s a black diamond right along the area boundary and through the trees. Sounded perfect.
We were thinking glades, of course, but it turned out to be a relatively steep … well, corkscrew-type ride among the trees. And there was no picking our own way through this section of forest. Instead, we put our skis in what amounted to a track — like a snow-covered waterslide — and just went where the path took us, leaning around high-banked turns and ducking under a stray pine limb here and there.
At the bottom, Roan summed it up best, “That was a lot of fun, like a roller coaster on skis.”
2:14 p.m. After one more trip down Last Chance and back up the Buckeye Platter surface lift (Roan had a lot of fun on Corkscrew, but he thought the Poma lift was way cool, too), we piled back in the Pilot, made some snacks, and headed south to Crested Butte.