Sophisticated Living Indianapolis

SEP-OCT 2017

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54 slmag.net With the interlaced fingers of my gloved hands securely wrapped around a steaming cup of hot chocolate, and my feet nice and toasty in a pair of chic Dubarry Kilternan boots, I admired the abstract artistry in the offing: colorful specs carved serpentine curves into a pristine blanket of white high atop the mountain. All morning, "fresh powder" was on nearly everyone's lips as I strolled through the lobby of e Arrabelle and outside to where, just steps away, giddy skiers ascended in the Eagle Bahn gondola to grab rights to first tracks on their favorite runs. As much as I wanted to share in their exuberance, I am a late bloomer when it comes to skiing (and a stubborn learner at that), but as I've learned in Vail, finding alternative heart pounding on-mountain activities isn't a challenge, and making apr├Ęs an extended affair is also a reputable pursuit in these idyllic environs. Enveloped by the White River National Forest, the Town of Vail is an outdoor enthusiasts' dream in all seasons, but particularly in winter, when some 5,000-acres are transformed into a skiers' playground. Devoid of the vibrant yellow leaves that are a hallmark of fall in the region, enigmatic "eyes" of leafless aspen trees become prominent and serve as silent observers of this seasonal spectacle; look closely and you may be able to spy a black bear's "signature" on the bark. Fiercely determined to prove that you can indeed teach an old dog new tricks, I always make a point to use my first day in Vail for a lesson with a private instructor from the Ski School (vail.com). As a newbie adult skier, I've found that the professionalism and calm demeanor inherent in their pool of instructors works wonders in building up my confidence. is past season I was joined by a friend who was a nervous first-time skier, and the two of us were paired up with Charlie Baker, one of the most experienced and sought-after instructors at the Ski School, who proved to be worth his weight in gold. He seized on my friend's athleticism and fearlessness, allowing her to go from a Level 1 to a solid Level 4 after just one day, and helped me iron out some lingering flaws in my form. While I may not have been born to ski, I love working up a sweat in the out-of-doors, so to get my pulse racing on non-ski days, I turned to the Vail Nordic School for guided snowshoeing and cross-country ski tours (vailclubhouse.com/Nordic-center/). Each allowed me to experience a diversity of Rocky Mountain terrain and feel good about joining my skiing travel mates at day's end to celebrate another day of adventure. Other exhilarating and family friendly ways to zip down the mountain that don't involve skis include tubing, and the new Forest Flyer Mountain Coaster, whose track winds 3,400 feet down the mountain. unVAILed An occasional skiers guide to stay and play in Vail Written by Caylee Matthews

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