Vail Daily column: Curing ‘fill-in-the-blank season’ blues |

Vail Daily column: Curing ‘fill-in-the-blank season’ blues

Richard Carnes
My View
Richard Carnes

The snow stops, the rain starts, the tourists leave.

The remaining snow melts, turning dirt to mud, the tourists having no real reason to return anytime soon.

You can’t ski, hike or play golf in the mud, hence most locals (but sure, not all) refer to it as “mud season.”

You can call it “shoulder season,” “off season,” “duck season” or “wabbit season” for all I care, but the fact remains that it is a time to kick back, relax, regroup and review for the upcoming summer season (which doesn’t require silly quotes).

So what are Happy Valleyites supposed to do in the meantime?

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Oh, and just for the record, I realize the summer season officially began this past weekend, but you and I both know it will remain muddy for the next few weeks.


Anyway, I recommend taking a small trip, only two or three days if that’s all you can afford or fits into your schedule, and see a part of Colorado you haven’t seen before or want to see again.

Last week, I drove down to Durango all by my little self to meet up with two high school buddies from Central Texas riding their two-wheeled mid-life crisis mobiles north to see our southern mountains.

Yes, I took my electric mid-life crisis mobile as well. (I can hear your sarcastic giggling.)

I had not made the five to six hour drive in a few years and never during an off season, as the vast majority of our traveling is for Ski & Snowboard Club Vail races during the winter.

Enjoying beautiful highway cruising for a few hours, it began raining at Ouray, with mud and the occasional rock making Red Mountain Pass a slalom course most of the way to Durango.

Upon meeting my buddies, the maturity level, as usual, immediately reverted back to the late ’70s. It didn’t matter if we were sitting in a bar, restaurant, motel room or a parking lot; we retold stories from our rose-colored glory years, catching one another when embellishment went too far over the top and laughing like school kids until our sides hurt.

A few beers didn’t hurt either.

The next day we drove the loop over to Telluride for lunch, where the usually dramatic Bridal Veil Falls was still frozen, but down in town it was wet and, well, a muddy mess.

Heading back over Red Mountain Pass, a few squalls of rain turned to snow around 10,000 feet, causing Silverton (elevation: 9,300, population: 500, number of paved roads: one) to become a muddy, but still quaintly beautiful, mess.

The next morning, we went our separate ways; me returning to the wet and wonderful mountains of Happy Valley looking forward to the last week of school and them having no choice but to ride home over a two day period to the hot and dry rolling hills of Central Texas, where they will spend the summer in air conditioned homes and traveling in air conditioned cars from air conditioned place to air conditioned place, always dreaming of their next visit to the cool mountains of Colorado.

I’ll take, and enjoy, a few weeks of “mud season” every time they come around.

Richard Carnes, of Edwards, writes weekly. He can be reached at

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