Joy-juice in your gizzard

I picked up fellow alum Dave K, pictured above, on Sunday the 30th of December and we headed south where the storm was supposed to hit. Dave K. is a powder prospector in the traditional sense—if there is snow falling, that’s where he goes. His nickname is Yukon Cornelius. As we drove out of Carbondale, Dave described to me weather patterns, showed me water vapor satellite images and told me about snowfall forecasts.

Having made some serious life changes in the previous year, and with a new year on the horizon, I was feeling reflective. I used to live a ski bum existence very similar to Dave’s, and now I’m a law student. Occasionally, I wonder if I made the right decision to go back to school. I certainly envied Dave. As we turned off the highway to ski one of his favorite backcountry areas, Dave told me this was his 38th ski day of the season so far. It was my second.

It was cold as we left the car and began the trek to the top of the mountain. I used to be a stronger climber than Dave, but he kept having to wait for me at the top of each section. He was the local; he was the pro. I was just along for the ride. But the snow was fabulous. We skied down, and I was impressed with the backcountry tour he’d given.

After skiing, we stopped for lunch in Paonia, CO. In the bathroom was a picture of an old mountain man, and underneath the picture was an inscription: may neither drouth nor rain nor blizzard/ Disturb the joy-juice in your gizzard. We ate our meal and drove on to our final destination, Ouray, CO.

Later that evening, the inscription and the old mountain man had me more reflective than ever. I realized that I had let law school disturb my joy-juice. It wasn’t that I disliked school—I really enjoyed it. The problem was that I let school take over my whole existence. I’d become obsessive about it and as a result I was having trouble dealing with things at school that didn’t go my way. I was short on serenity.

The next two days were ideal. Dave and I met up with members of Phoenix Multisport, a non-profit organization for active sober people, in Ouray. During the day, we would explore the backcountry skiing between Ouray and Silverton, CO. In the evenings, we would hit the hot springs and get some quality fellowship with other recovering addicts and alcoholics. I was even able to stay up until midnight on New Year’s Eve—something I can’t usually do since I’ve been sober.

Dave and I drove back to Carbondale on New Year’s Day. The big storm had missed us to the east. Dave didn’t really care. We’d gotten some great turns and had another fun, sober New Year’s Eve. Dave said that sometimes it snows and sometimes it doesn’t, but you can make the best of it either way. Both mountain men agreed.

Zach W.

Alumnus

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