The changing seasons of life |

The changing seasons of life

Mike Schneiter
Glenwood Springs Post Independent

Mike Schneiter has the kids packed and ready to embark on a little adventure during a recent hut trip with his family.
Staff Photo |

This week was my first skin up Sunlight in 2013. It’s a weird thing for me, considering that in other years I’ve regularly made scores of trips up and down our beloved local mountain.

But this winter has been different. Slowed by a knee injury and the subsequent surgery, my winter season has been a slow, quiet season, literally and figuratively.

That’s the way life is. We go through periods of change, just as the seasons of the year cause us to adjust our activities.

I’ve focused more time on my family, reading and enjoying the crackle of the fireplace on cold winter nights. Instead of seeking out long winter adventures, I’ve been content to soak in the hot springs and to wrestle with my kids.

My longing for adventure hasn’t faded, but I know this time shall pass and it will be just a blip on the timeline of my life. Injuries can do that to us.

Similarly, the changes we experience in life cause us to adapt and to shift our focus. Jobs, kids, loved ones and responsibilities have a way of instituting necessary changes in the season of our lives.

Recently, I trudged through the snow with my kids in tow for many hard-earned miles — and a good chunk of elevation gain — to get to the Benedict Huts outside Aspen.

The Benedict Huts are two beautiful huts in the 10th Mountain Hut system. Constructed of old barn wood and grand log work, the huts sit in a thickly forested area near the site of old mining operations. The combination of thick trees and deep snow create a bewitching, absorbing silence.

The long slog up the Smuggler Road from Hunter Creek was a slow, arduous endeavor. Saddled with the bulk of our supplies and two kids, I pulled our kids’ ski sled while my brow was saturated with sweat.

My 6-month pregnant wife, always a trooper, helped me considerably by pulling our oldest child in a sled for much of the way. Moments of rest were hard to get when our youngest fell asleep and I feared that stopping might wake him.

At one time in my life, hut trips were a way to explore backcountry terrain, seeking out beautiful ski lines and wild places.

This time the focus was different and I merrily spent three days sitting by the fire with my family, playing games, enjoying food, building snow forts and watching for the ever-persistent pine marten who was seeking a free meal.

I never once felt like I was missing out on steep ski lines. How could I after seeing the bounding figure of my daughter as she ran the last yards to the hut? Her excitement for our little adventure was uncontainable.

Unencumbered by responsibilities and removed from the chains of technology, my family and I just enjoyed being … a feeling we experience all too rarely.

At home, my daughter wants to watch movies and I get sucked into the infinite void of Facebook, email, and news feeds. Removed from all that, we were just a family having fun and being focused on each other. Endless play and constant laughter filled our time.

My daughter cried when it was time to go home. How could I convey to her that I want life to be like this all the time? How do I explain that I would also stay if we could?

Cries gradually abated and the ski down was filled with a chorus of, “dad, go faster!” My oldest doesn’t understand what a meniscus is or how daddy is trying to take it easy because of that meniscus. Speed is all that they wanted. And every time I built up some speed, a roar of laughter came from the towed sled behind me.

Returning to the car, the snow has turned to slush and the parking lot was muddy. Our winter retreat is ending and the approach of spring is evident.

I’m sad because I enjoy the seasons, and I know I’ve spent too little time this winter doing the activities I love.

At the same time, I remind myself that every season brings its own joys. Bike rides, climbing adventures, playing in the river and camping are all around the corner.

One season closes and another season is born. Enjoy.

— Mike Schneiter is a Glenwood Springs H.S. teacher and coach, owner of Glenwood Climbing Guides and is a Brooks Inspire Daily athlete.

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