Pandemic Ponderings

“Wait ‘til next year!” is the Plan B for baseball fans when their team doesn’t make the playoffs.

In 2020, it has become the preoccupation of the world’s population in various stages of lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic. We wonder: When will I get a haircut? Hug my grandma (or grandkids)?

… Or go skiing and snowboarding again?

First, I hope all of you are as OK as possible in these anxious times. I’m fortunate to be sheltered in a beautiful place—Sonoma Wine Country—with considerate neighbors and plenty of wide-open spaces for running, hiking, and bicycling. Flourishing grapevines remind me that life, like wine vintages, goes on.

Nonetheless, I brood about the ski season that wasn’t. Skiing is as ephemeral as the snowflakes that pile on the pistes. The sport compresses into a five-month window of opportunity, late November through late April. In 2020, we lost two months—40% of our joyfully anticipated season—because of coronavirus closures. My planned-and-booked trips to Whistler, Sun Valley, and Tahoe—gone.

It recalls the old paradox about whether a tree falling in the forest makes a sound if no one is there to hear it.

Is it really a powder day if there’s no one to ski it?

Look upon this website as my lemonade-from-lemons escapade. For many years, I’ve wanted to launch a Peak Eats forum, celebrating the best restaurants at the top ski areas in the world. Shelter-In-Place has given me time to learn the basics of WordPress and create these pages. I look forward to sharing my favorite on-mountain places and meals with you, and hearing about yours.

Skiers and boarders are by nature preppers. We carry both goggles and sunglasses, own powder skis and carvers, have base layers to add and air vents to unzip. In an odd way, the ever-changing heavens above and slippy snow below readies us for the upheavals of a global pandemic. On the slopes, there’s a new normal every time we make a turn.

Snowsports lovers are also optimists, believing that the sucker hole will turn to bluebird skies and a projected powder dump will blow in as scheduled… or a COVID-19 vaccine will soon prove reality.

Meanwhile, I’m buoyed by news that A-Basin (Arapahoe Basin) in Colorado reopened in late May for skiing and boarding; Oregon’s Timberline and Mt. Bachelor also operated. Even though things were a little weird (you had to make an advance reservation and lift lines were properly distanced), these glimmers of snowy life bring hope that things will get better.

I can’t wait for the 2020/2021 ski season to begin. May all its surprises be happy ones.

— Risa Wyatt

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