The season of color and change is upon us.
Singletrack through the aspen forests has transformed, once again, into glittering tunnels of gold. Wet leaves, as if precious bullion strewn, decorate the ground and, what is left of the canopy, glows gently, illuminated by that peculiar, long autumn light.
It’s also the time of year when our seasonal trail crew members begin to depart, one by one, each one taking with him a small part of our organization’s spirit and somehow, simultaneously, expanding it. The moving on of the seasonal crew leaves emptiness where dirty boots, work gloves, backpacks and laughter once filled our office. Their departure plucks at my heartstrings, reminding me that nothing in life is constant but change. It is bittersweet for those of us who stay behind, year after year, as we envy and applaud our co-workers’ fluid, adventurous lifestyles and plans for long desert expeditions or world travel.
This time of year, flitting moments of introspection seep quietly into the day, and that familiar speck of melancholy over another summer’s passing is replaced with the tickle of anticipation for the coming snow – corduroy under skis, squeaky singletrack underfoot, the soft rumble of snow bike tires. Hoar-frosted sage and pines. What is to come is as beloved as what we’ve already passed through.
The blistering heat and intermittent days of suffocating smoke have finally dissipated with the shift in atmospheric patterns. A bite in the morning air tells us it is time to move equipment off the mountain before the snow falls, making exit dangerous or impossible. Half of the trail crew is quickly withdrawing thousands of trail signs from the upper elevations, while the other half gets to work marking cross-country ski track and winter singletrack before the ground freezes. In the garage over the next few weeks, the year-round crew will prep the snow-cats, snowmobiles, grooming drags and four wheelers that’ll keep our winter trails alive until spring. We just keep rolling on, one season to the next. It is wonderful to be in this work.
In the 2021/22 snow season, Mountain Trails will groom more winter trails for cross-country skiers, snow bikers, snowshoers and trail runners than ever before: Round Valley, Clark Ranch and, depending on snow conditions, Bonanza Flat, will all get daily attention, as Mother Nature allows.
Even as we scramble to prepare for the change that is soon to come, there is one constant: our gratitude for the support of the donors that make this work possible. Maybe it sounds sappy, but it’s true – we couldn’t do what we do, year after year, without the financial support of Trail Lovers like you!
With gratitude and excitement for what comes next,
Lora Smith, Executive Director