Desert season is the dessert of summer: the treat of crisp cool days and campfires among the falling leaves. A time to squeeze the last few sweet drops of warmth out of the year. A fragile fort to hide out from old man winter for a few more weeks. An illusion that fades as soon as the sun sets on the sandstone bluffs and the chilly air creeps into camp. In those cold nights, fall becomes summer’s cold shoulder.
In the mountains, the cyclic truth of the aspens cannot be denied. Snow dusted tents above tree line signal an end to any sort of civil affair with the alpine. But the desert welcomes with open arms. The vast landscape hosts a bi-annual pilgrimage, each spring in hopes of change and each fall in hopes of hanging on. A certain equilibrium is found between the blank red walls of the canyons. Bodies no longer captive to the oppressive heat or burdened by layers to survive the cold. In tune with nature, a Goldilocks state.
Mountain bikers rejoice as the trails turn tacky with a flash of gold. Gears wear thin, yet grins grow wide. Climbers find greater friction between rock and self. Sending temps and seasoned fingers help to push grades. Trail runners relish the frosty morning miles that seem to tick by effortlessly. A faster pace, a farther place. Harvest season for mountain athletes. Reaping the rewards of hours logged during the extended days of summer. Lamenting as each idyllic day grows shorter.
But, we’re skiers. And as such we cannot ignore the lure of a fresh blanket on the mountains. A siren from peaks, calls us from the deserts and dwindling aspen groves. While the wilderness readies for hibernation and the wildflowers fade, our spirits awaken. Muted colors and a frigid west wind announce the transition. As the leaves leave, we are left waiting for the true nature of the mountains to be revealed once more. Patiently passing the pleasant days, awaiting a return to the white room.
Evan Green has been backcountry splitboarding in Colorado for the past five years. When not working as a geologist he can be found scouring over topo maps looking for a new pow stash or behind the lens shooting mountain sports and landscapes.
For more literary forays into mountain and ski touring life, see our Stories.