High pressure ushered the coldest temperatures of the year into Gunnison Valley on the coattails of the seasonís first three inches. So with the half the leaves yet to fall we were optimistic. This might be the year. The giddiness throughout the town was palpable. I watched a neighbor from the street glide by on skate skis. Marveling at her form I thought quickly of the months to come. Deep powder days. Long tours. The quiet of the snow falling through spruce.
My daydream was interrupted by the sound of P-tex grinding on asphalt. I started to laugh. My fellow enthusiast, suffering a loss of form, was now sprawled out on the street. She looked back at me pointed and howled. I stood in a cloud of blue smoke, breathing carbon monoxide with 40 feet of six-millimeter static line draping from my handótied to the bumper of my roomateís Crown Victoria.
Iím not usually one to skitch (i.e. being dragged behind something), especially on tele-gear. Most years I would have waited at least the 15 minutes to drive to the nearest incline to make that first precious turn of the season. But I needed an excuse to relegate my faithful Tua Cirques to rock-ski-dom. I also needed to put a long summer behind me. Now.
We all aspire to get into the backcountry, but when it comes to the first turn of the year itís less about location and more about sensation. In the early season, pastures, golf courses, town roads, and backyards are for a moment as backcountry as we need. And regardless of where you make it, that first turn is perhaps the most important of the year. It doesnít just represent what is to come, but what will pass. This would be my first turn of the year in many ways; first since ACL reconstruction; first since having my heart broken; first behind a Ford first thing in the morning. I needed to immerse myself in this ski season. And as the towline grew taut; my season began.
-Adam Howard, Editor