I have a confession to make. I’m a die-hard skier whose favorite season is summer. Yeah, I miss the slopes from May to November; but that’s the only thing I miss. In the mountains, the best time is summertime.
I love nothing better than sitting on a redwood deck, basking in the sun and soaking in the mountain views. The clarity of the light, the warm pungency of the pines, the quiet: I love it. It’s best on Sunday morning in a chaise lounge, a fat copy of the Times and a full mug of French Roast. Try that in winter and your teeth are chattering before you reach the Arts & Leisure section.
When it comes to activities, winter is a one-trick pony. Summer, on the other hand, is a veritable carnival of fun and games. As the sun warms the hills, whitewater starts roiling, hiking trails open, bike routes clear, singletrack dries out and wildlife returns. There’s camping and fly-fishing and canoeing. Mountain lakes reopen to boating, windsurfing, swimming. Out come the sundresses. There’s even skiing, albeit high in shadowed snowfields or tethered to the transoms of speedboats.
I like summer because there is sun¿high overhead, not low in your eyes. Daylight stretches into tomorrow, and late-afternoon rainclouds break in time to form Technicolor sunsets. There are hummingbirds and fawns and wildflowers and new leaves so green that Crayola doesn’t even have colors for them. I love that stuff.
Summer provides so many more options than winter, it’s unfair to even compare the two. Winter comes out the loser every time. If winter is so good, why do ski bars all have beach parties? Why does every mountain worth its marketing department host a bikini contest in April? And, if winter is so great, why is it that lift ops from Bethel to Bend race south to Key West or Cozumel come spring?
In summer, you don’t have to worry about ice damming your downspouts or impaling passersby as it plunges from the eaves. You don’t have to scrape it off the windshield or thaw it from the pipes. It doesn’t come between you, your Michelins, the pavement and the insurance company. In summer, ice stays where it belongs, bobbing cheerily in a cocktail glass. Winter fans, please save your ice for next season. I’ll take my summers straight up.