Last fall, I spent six weeks in Kauai, where I learned more about, and practiced, living aloha. Though I’m certainly not anywhere near living aloha perfectly, when I returned to Breckenridge, I realized I can ski and ride aloha on the mountain (as well as driving to and fro).
In very loose terms, aloha means love, compassion, gratitude and kindness (as well as hello/welcome and goodbye).
In Breckenridge, and Summit County on the whole, we all do a pretty good job of living aloha; island life is similar to mountain life in its love for the land and generally laid-back approach to life.
But there are times when our aloha gets tested — and it often coincides with powder skiing, or driving.
When driving through Breckenridge, we locals can calmly and patiently tell ourselves that visitors may be puttering along slowly, trying to take in all of the new sights, and also trying to figure out where that specific shop or restaurant is.
These days, rather than get frustrated, I tend to remind myself of how fortunate I am to live in such a beautiful place, where people regularly (incessantly, even) slow down or get out of their car to take pictures here and there.
Powder days test my aloha practice a tiny bit more.
Most of the time, a group of skiers and riders gather in front of a soon-to-be-opened lift line or roped-off run. Generally, we all share our enthusiasm by lining up in an orderly fashion, hanging out, and letting any people in front of us grab the chair or track ahead of us.
But sometimes the adrenaline-fueled excitement gets the best of us; I’ve watched people behind me step on top of my skis and nearly plow me over in attempt to get ahead of me as the rope drops. I’m not proud of it, but I’ve resorted to using my elbows — pink jacket and all — in an effort to maintain my “rightful” place in line.
The truth is: We’re all gonna get great powder. I’m a diehard powder hound — it’s what I live for in the winter — but being two to nine chairs ahead or behind someone will still give me plenty of freshies.
And as far as driving goes, I just allow a few extra minutes to get where I’m going, so I don’t have to stress. In Kauai, drivers stop all the time to let a car into a congested traffic area. They wave and smile. It can’t help but make you feel good; I’ve tried it both ways now — letting cars in (even if they’re rolling through a stop sign they should’ve halted at) and being let in (or forgiven when I make a stupid driving mistake, perhaps because I’m paying too much attention to the amazing light around a mountaintop).
Breckenridge, and really all of Summit County, built a reputation for its friendly community. It’s still very strong. And skiing and riding with aloha can help preserve the atmosphere we all love — and keep everyone coming back for.