Warming warps my crystal ball | VailDaily.com

Warming warps my crystal ball

Don Rogers
Laura Mahaffy/lmahaffy@theunion.com | The Union

Hot to the east. Hot to the west. And here we are on a Sunday morning, hiking for breakfast in a leafy green nirvana — cool, flowers everywhere, a light burn in the legs, a locomotive for lungs, and working up that appetite.

Is this perfect or what? The mountains rule.

If the past winter, Vail’s 50th anniversary, was tailored for savoring the past half-century’s incredible run of success, the start of our too-short summer seems like a good time to look in our crystal balls at the next 50 years.

A warning: My orb might be too bright for you gloomy gypsies who foresaw Vail’s Renaissance as the End Times, and maybe too tempered for the oracles who didn’t see the Great Recession coming or the inevitable recovery on tap next.

Now, we can’t possibly grow at the same weedy rate during the next 50 years, can we? But much to the lock-the-gates crowd’s dismay, surely our population will reach the point we could almost fill Mile High.

I see Ever Vail, Wolcott, the development formerly known as Ginnturn rising out of the ground. I see Gypsum and Eagle growing to something approaching city-size, and gentrification creeping through the mid-valley communities. Eagle River Station and the Village at Avon? Hmmm. Glass just fogged up.

I see cars and trucks driving themselves, but still no high-speed commuter trains or monorails. That silly committee of bureaucrats is still meeting about I-70 congestion and accomplishing no more than studies 50 years from now. Some things never change.

Big wildfires and some smart control burns have completed the pine and spruce beetle cycle. The mountains are healthier than ever, even with a slight recasting of what grows and lives where, owing to that pesky warming trend that all the hot air of the GOP couldn’t blow out. But the party does turn the corner and garner at least the wealthy Hispanic vote.

And wow, look at that summer business! Winter still dominates, thanks to advancements in snowmaking that extend each end of ski season and Vail’s unique location that harvests more of those volatile snowstorms.

But the last cool haven on Earth has increased its charms for overheated Texans and such seeking refuge. That and the amusements built on the ski hills, events filling the summer schedule and the state government finally realizing they have a big stake in promoting what really makes Colorado … Colorado. And it ain’t Pueblo.

The valley remains a small community even if fewer of us have known each other for a generation. And there’s more critical mass to support cultural amenities, health specialties and a professional middle class. Technological advancements have freed more people up to work remotely, and the venerable Google has moved a skunkworks branch here.

Oh and hey, look: Is that me crabbing up the mountainside with new parts and the great-grandkids, earning my breakfast?

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