By Tony Crespi
Skiing has always been about more than tracking vertical at Killington. It’s always been more than just a sport. For many of us it’s a lifestyle. It’s, well, a way of life.
Stopping by a local airport recently to examine a four-seater plane, I saw an empty world. Hangars were closed. Aircraft sat idle. A place typically alive with excitement looked isolated. Aircraft that once would easily offer access to mountain destinations and nearby islands were now in seclusion, sitting tied to airport moorings or locked in solitude within individual dark hangars.
This year is different.
For years we drove north each Friday. As a travel writer, I created favorite places to park. We’d use trails as anchors for meet-ups; in our case we’d take breaks to warm toes. And we’d “loiter” at the end of the day. I thought it was part of the soul of skiing. Though always cold from years of frostbite endured as a race coach my love for winter travel has not diminished.
But Covid has changed travel.
This past summer, walking by a large dock near the shore we glimpsed another group enjoying a sport with a parallel lifestyle. We watched boaters lug gear. We saw folks prepare for a day escape. But we also saw boats sitting unused.
This winter many skis will also likely go unused.
This virus has changed travel.
Like a vaccine, we need some kind of injection to restore a way of life to each group. As we know Covid travel restrictions are clear-cut. Some, though, add confusion. This week I read of a young college student on vacation in the Cayman Islands imprisoned for four months for violating travel restrictions. On the West Coast I read of a family travelling the airlines with positive test results who were arrested for second degree reckless endangerment.
Some travelers will avoid such risks and loiter at home. Others will travel. Some will ski. Some won’t. Some will find other activities. My wife made a snow angel in fresh snow. For those of us with a calling to ski, travel, and explore, the world is complex.
Planning to beach on Fishers Island for a picnic this past summer, traveling with masks on a small boat, we were informed this was in violation and we must not loiter. There was no adventure.
This is a winter like no other. We do reminisce. We are taking hikes. We mourn the passing of a loved one we lost during Covid.
Skiing has always nourished our soul. This winter, the soul of skiing is frail. Travel is compromised. Mountain travel has changed. Some will travel. Some will lie if questioned. Some will endure isolation. Some will mourn. Still, our country, I think, was built on fortitude, hope, creativity, and, in the East, Yankee ingenuity.
Let’s try to keep our souls nourished with hope for 2021.