Telluride, Colo. — The snow came late to Telluride this year. Until a week ago, our normal 70-inch base stood at a paltry 30 inches and amber waves of grass rippled on south-facing slopes, already ready for the summer elk. Usually, there are a dozen ...
So the ice hockey worth talking about is not merely the skating at our indoor rink or the town pond. No, the skating worth talking about, preferably with a pint in hand at one of the aforementioned bars, is high-alpine lake hockey.
Skating in Gold King Basin (elevation, 11,200 feet) near Telluride. Credit Mark RikkersWe have, in the 12,000- and 13,000-foot mountains surrounding town, a series of lakes, lakes that are typically buried under feet of snow, the roads that lead to them, impassable. But this year, the switch-backing roads that the miners carved into the hills over a century ago stayed clear; indeed, they emerged out of the meager snow fields like angry red scars, reminders of what is usually whitewashed with powder.
Even though the temperatures in town were freakishly warm, at close to 11,000 feet, these high-alpine lakes remained as hard as glass, enormous mirrors for the jagged peaks that surround them.
My husband and I and our two girls, ages 8 and 11, decided to head to one of the largest of the batch: Gold King Basin.
With the lake almost 10 times the size of a normal ice rink, there is ample space to play a family game of pickup hockey. My husband and I didn’t grow up playing this sport. We’ve played only once a week for the past few years on a coed team (the beer league), but our girls play almost daily and it’s fun for them (and humbling for us) to have something they can teach us.
“Stay back a little more on defense,” Siri, the older one, tells me, while Quincy urges me to “take the shot” and not be such a wimp.
After we skate for a while, my girls, pink-cheeked and fully present in the joy that is pond hockey, ask why it can’t always be like this, a rink to ourselves, nestled in the mountains.
I don’t know where to begin, don’t know how to explain the worry corralling my heart about what snowless winters could mean for my town. Or even bigger, what it means for them and the planet they will inherit. But I try to let that go, at least while we are on the ice. It isn’t often that we have this time together: My husband and I are busy with work; the girls are busy with the work that is called growing up. So I tell them it is a special treat, a byproduct of the snow not falling.
After all, childhood is as fickle as snow; here one year, gone the next. And so I let go for a little as we pass the puck and breathe in the mountain air, cold and biting in our chests, as the last scraps of sun gather around the peaks, our blades pushing off the ice like hope.
Snow and Snowstorms,Skiing,Ice Skating,Hockey Ice,Families and Family Life