Thursday, November 18, 2010

Horizontal Snow

Looking west from the High Mountain Lodge toward Sheep Mountain

When you live as high in the mountains as we do, directional dimensions can be a little confusing. Instead of the mountains being "up there," they are "over there"--directly in front of you. Clouds, too, don't seem so far up in the air as much as they appear to be in the next valley over, hiding behind a mountain, then drizzling down one of the valleys into the next lower drainage.

Why, even the stars scarcely know their place. True, the Milky Way still stretches across the heavens high enough that you have to look up to spot it in the inky-dark sky over the Lodge.

Nevertheless, it's pretty disconcerting to look out the window on a wakeful warm June night just before dawn to spot the Big Dipper upside-down on the horizon balancing on the line of the mountains, as if God had taken a drink, then upended the ladle in the dish drainer to dry out.

Up here, it's easy to believe the world really is flat and that the firmament truly is a bowl with holes in it to let through the light of the Empyrean in the form of the stars.

Consequently, we weren't all that surprised to wake up late last week to a snowstorm that had to come from a 360-degree torus of clouds encircling the Lodge. That was the only place the snow could be coming from: The sky above us was achingly blue and cloudless, but snow was drifting down quite steadily. It had to be coming from the horizontal clouds. No wind to speak of, but that snow didn't fool us; it was coming from "over there."

In successive days the weather got organized, and the clouds covered the whole sky. We had four successive days of pretty much non-stop snow. For the most part, the fall was gentle, though we had a few times when the wind kicked up. But over the course of those days, we got almost two feet of snow.

We bought our Winter Park ski passes last week when it was snowing, and one of the people waiting in line exclaimed that it was going to be the best Opening Day in many years. We couldn't wait! We skied the last day of the season in April, and we were going to ski the very next day that the lifts were open. Hoo-rah!

Alas, it was not to be. I had a choir rehearsal in Denver Tuesday evening, and Julie and I went down that morning to work on cleaning our old house and getting it ready to sell. It was balmy and warm (relatively) in Denver, but in mid-afternoon, Julie got a call from somebody wanting to spend the night at the Lodge because CDOT had closed Berthoud Pass and I-70 west of Denver.

So we spent the night with friends, and by the time we got back to the Lodge the next day, it was mid-afternoon. And today we spent time getting ready for guests this weekend. But even with the disappointment of not making Opening Day, there was some consolation in the sunset we experienced that night after the snow had cleared. You can't grumble too hard.

So we have yet to get our ski-legs under us. We are, however, within days of hitting the slopes. The next time the clouds band around the Lodge, we'll know to start sharpening those ski edges. It's only a matter of time.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Thank you, soldiers and veterans

Well, we're almost to November 10. If the weather holds, we expect a lodge-full of active military personnel and veterans for Veterans Day. The weather forecast is for snow, and we've already had a few cancellations, but even so, we're going to have a lot of wonderful people visiting the High Mountain Lodge.

Last week, the pool boiler went the way of all flesh, and we wrestled the installation of a new one with the help of friends. We left it firing merrily when we went off to a B&B conference in Colorado Springs, and if we're lucky, when we get back to the lodge, it will have successfully raised the pool temp above the temperature of a November Colorado mountain stream. It will be just in time for soldiers, vets, and their families to enjoy.

It's hard to find another group of people who have made such personal sacrifices for our country. We're honored to welcome them to the lodge and hope to thank them personally when they arrive.