Roberts: Mud season musings
The 2015/16 ski season is now officially in the books. I’m not convinced it was one for the books, but there was at least a little more to write home about this season.
For the most part, this season went the way a lot of my relationships seem to. It started out really strong, full of promise and potential, and then kind of fizzled out with no real explanation. There were a few flickers of possibility again in March, with some intense flirting in the form of flurries, but no indication we’d be getting back together with winter exclusively. In the end, it was fun while it lasted, but didn’t really live up to all the hope and hype.
Back in October I read all sorts of reports about this season being an El Niño year and what that meant for our snowfall. I saw estimates we could have a banner year, possibly even breaking the 400-inch mark. The water levels would be back to where they should be. The drought would be all but over. The Jordanelle might flood. We’d have so many powder days, we’d all be walking like ducks. There was a great deal of optimism.
Considering the couple of winters we had before this one, 2015/16 was by all accounts far better. But the bar had been set pretty low and we were easy to impress.
The tourists were too, it seemed. I can’t recall town ever being as busy as it was this season. Even on a random Tuesday afternoon in the middle of March there were lift lines that nobody knew how to maneuver. And getting a reservation at a restaurant on Main Street required about as much notice as quitting your job.
Perhaps all the visitors saw the same projections and forecasts I did. Or maybe it was the promise and curiosity of "North America’s largest ski resort." It could have been the strong economy. Or maybe everyone just wanted to know what it feels like to pay $8 for a candy bar. I’m not really sure, but it all seemed to create the perfect storm of way too many people and not enough parking.
The tourists are gone now, though, along with a good chunk of locals. Half the town seems to be in Mexico right now; the other half in Moab. Going somewhere sunny is the best part of ski season coming to an end. Though it’s been oddly warm here, too. Many hiking and biking trails are already completely dry. Tulips are starting to pop up. I’ve even shut the heat off in my house a couple of nights. The resorts did all they could to hang on, but the past few weekends it has kind of been like skiing in a daiquiri.
In a few weeks I’ll head to the airport myself — there’s a beach and fruity drinks in my near future as well. Skipping town during mud season is a rite of passage for those of us who live here.
But anymore, I wonder if the expensive plane ticket and resort are worth it. I love to travel, but the next couple of weeks are the only ones all year we can actually make a left turn in Park City. Going to Kimball Junction doesn’t require a Xanax and a four-hour block of time. There’s not a line out the door at your favorite restaurant. A lot of them aren’t even open. And you don’t hear anyone at the grocery store asking where the liquor aisle is. For the briefest time, our town is turned back over to its rightful owners. And it’s kind of a shame to miss it.
Amy Roberts is a freelance writer, longtime Park City resident, and the proud owner of two rescued Dalmatians, Stanley and Willis. Follow her on Twitter @amycroberts.
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