VAIL, Colorado - It's amazing what 2 feet of snow can do to the morale around the valley.
The chatter in restaurants Thursday night was all about the snow - how deep it was, how light and fluffy it was, and how long it had been since we've enjoyed conditions like these.
The chatter on social media sites echoed the joy heard around Vail and Beaver Creek in recent days as snow storms blanketed the valley and the ski slopes with what felt like bottomless piles of snow.
"Best day of the year! So uplifting! Had a smile on my face all day long! We needed this day! The best!" wrote SkiBum Mum on the Vail Daily's Facebook page. (The excessive use of exclamation points sums up the joy felt by so many who were on the mountain Thursday.)
On Vail Mountain's Facebook page, the resort posted a video from Thursday that was subtitled, "What locals are calling one of the best days ever at Vail." Nearly 2,000 people "liked" the video, and many out-of-towners expressed jealousy and envy of those who were lucky enough to enjoy the powder.
Beaver Creek reported 23 inches in seven days, and Vail reported 27 inches in 7 days. The mood changed from pessimism to pure bliss and optimism in just over a week.
"I'm positive today was the top five days of my life," Greg Oley wrote on Vail Mountain's Facebook page.
On Friday, cars lined the South Frontage Road in Vail on the first day of February - not a date in which the town of Vail typically sees overflow parking on the road because of full parking garages. Town of Vail spokeswoman Suzanne Silverthorn said town staff think it's obvious why so many cars traveled to Vail Friday.
"Powder is here," Silverthorn said via email to the Vail Daily. "And lots of it. We're expecting a big parking day tomorrow, too. Get here early if you want a free parking spot."
Vail Assistant Town Manager Pam Brandmeyer said westbound traffic over Vail Pass Friday morning was heavy, as reported by some of the town employees who commute over from Summit County. Brandmeyer said this is not considered a peak time in the ski season.
"This is clearly about the snow - people are hungry for snow, and for skiing and boarding," she said.
At Buzz's Ski Shop in Vail Village, employee Rob Pollan said the rental ski rack was almost empty mid-morning Friday. People who rented skis this week were coming back with big smiles on their faces, he said.
The store has been selling a lot of powder skis, too.
"People were talking about (Thursday) being one of the best days ever," Pollan said. "People are already talking about spring skiing and how we will have a good base. I think people are getting excited about the rest of the year, so the tone has definitely changed, I think."
It's easy to feel the optimism when some are calling Thursday's powder one of the best powder days in two seasons. Some are making more bold statements than that.
"Definitely the best ski day of my life," wrote Jean-Pierre Mitton on Vail Mountain's Facebook page.
Snow in Vail and Beaver Creek means business for the entire valley, too. Restaurants, clothing stores, the airport - everyone benefits.
In Minturn, a popular hangout for folks who complete the Minturn Mile has been jamming this week. Minturn Saloon Bar Manager Bruce Plummer said the snow's been very good.
"The Mile's definitely kicking," he said, adding that roughly 40 Minturn Milers came to the Saloon on Wednesday, and roughly 50 on Thursday. "Everybody was saying it was the best day in two years (Thursday)."
When there are those kinds of statements, the people will come. Brandmeyer said there's almost no doubt the parking garages will fill up again today, and maybe even on Sunday. She said the free parking in front of the Safeway in West Vail was already half filled around 7 a.m. Friday.
"It's going to be wild and crazy," Brandmeyer said, adding that powder-seekers need to get up early this weekend.
Assistant Managing Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or firstname.lastname@example.org.