The age of enlightenment is 8 years old
Sometimes, it really doesn’t matter if anybody’s watching you or not. This is what my 8-year-old niece Juliette learned last Saturday evening, when we took part in Sunlight’s torchlight descent. The descent is part of Ski Spree, a carnival every winter at Sunlight Mountain Resort. There are all sorts of activities, from the cardboard box derby (which amounts to careening down the mountain on soggy cardboard) to the Need for Speed ski race. For Juliette, though, nothing compares to skiing in the torchlight parade on Saturday night. That’s when the children from Sunlight’s Kids Club ski and snowboard program ride up the Tercero chairlift at dusk, then ski down the lower part of the mountain with flashlights, headlamps and lanterns, while a troop of ski instructors carrying red sparklers comes from higher up the mountain to Sunlight’s base.Every weekend since December, Juliette has been asking, “Is the torchlight descent this weekend?” It’s been something to plan for, anticipate and think about. Juliette spent the day skiing at Sunlight last Saturday, then stuck around the base lodge with the rest of the kids as the sun dropped behind the mountains. There weren’t huge crowds gathered to watch the torchlight spectacle. In fact, most people had gone home for the day, and the ski area parking lot was pretty deserted.But no matter. We bundled up – even more so than we do during the day – and headed out to snap into our skis as dusk turned to dark. Going up the chairlift at night was sort of magical. The mountain was so still and quiet, except for a few of the kids on chairs behind us screaming as loud as they possibly could (guess they were the ones who didn’t have any adult chaperones riding with them, eh?).When we got to the top of the lift, everybody turned on their lights and got ready for the descent down. “Everyone, get in line!” the instructors called out, as kids and chaperones – on skis and boards – queued up. From midway, where the lift dropped us, though, we couldn’t see the base lodge, which means the small crowd gathered at the base lodge couldn’t see us either. That realization suddenly occurred to Juliette. “What are we doing this for if no one can see us?” she asked me, a big smile on her face, as if this was just striking her as something really ridiculous and funny.Because, I thought, as we slid off into the snowy night, a line of bright lights bobbing one after another in a line snaking down the mountain. Just because it’s cool to be out here on a winter night in the cold with a bunch of exuberant kids.As I skied behind Juliette, I noticed she had answered her own question. She and the rest of the group collectively started spontaneously hooting and yipping, even though no one but us could hear us. The kids swung their flashlights around in crazy-eight patterns, even though no one else could see our brightly lit designs. When we finally came to the crest of a hill and caught a full view of Sunlight’s base lodge below, we already had linked dozens of turns without anyone else seeing our synchronized line. There weren’t very many people waiting for us on the deck at the lodge below, but those who were cheered and hollered like they were watching the most amazing choreographed artistry on snow. Sometimes, it really doesn’t matter if anyone is watching you. It’s a lesson for an 8-year-old, but it’s also something from which we all can learn. Carrie Click is the editor of The Citizen Telegram in Rifle and is the Western Garfield County bureau editor for the Glenwood Springs Post Independent. She’s never been night skiing, except during torchlight descents. Reach Carrie at 625-5088, ext. 101, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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