Saturday, March 6, 2010

Skiing St. Elmo

Sunday, I invited my daughter to visit St. Elmo. She surprised me by eagerly accepting. We loaded skis, camera, picnic and selves into the car and headed to the 10,000 foot high ghost town.

I glide through town, searching for an image saturated in the WOW factor. The sky isn’t quite blue enough. Cars litter the historic feel. Wooden cabins hunker beneath the snow, hibernating until summer brings begging rodents and the incessant buzz of hummingbirds.

I snap the Home Comfort Hotel. The hotel rooms were heated by a single stovepipe carrying smoke from kitchen to roof. For guests lodged at the front, away from the kitchen, well, tough luck.

Across the street, the rebuilt town hall preens in isolated splendor while the pristine snow cloaks the remnants of disaster. Fire purifies, vitrifies, galvanizes and hardens. It also destroys, amply illustrated by the barren lots.

As I snap photos, daughter searches for balance on the slick street. With a shriek, she splats into the snow pile that barricades the boardwalk. We share laughter as she flails her 40 inch feet in the air.

We slide out of town and practice turns on the hack road. I force unwieldy skis around the corner, panting with effort and exhilaration. Daughter crashes in a geyser of white. Then, her binding released and refused to capture her boot.

After struggling to the point of chilly boredom, I gave her my skis and sat to analyze the situation. Snow diamonds melt into my jeans and leave me cold. The binding is broken. I clip on her good ski and navigate the slope on one foot. My thigh screams with the added effort. I enjoy several unbalanced runs while daughter masters my ultra-long skis.

Worn out and wet, we pass through the guardians of history and return to the car.