By Pat Ajax

Any individual who has spent a winter in a ski town knows damn well that one of the most prestigious rites of passage is to poach a hot tub. The need to soak a well-worn body and enjoy some tasty post-shred libations will make most long-haired ski hooligans tempt fate and risk a trespassing charge.

Some poaches are relatively easy: no security, no keys required. Others demand a more brazen effort: scaling fences, running from guard dogs, dipping through laser security systems like Catherine Zeta Jones in the movie Entrapment. Then there's the discussion of which venue to pick. Is it an après ski poach with you and your boys? Better be a busy tub and easily approachable so you dirtbags can blend in. Is it after last call at the bar and you're with a cute lil lady? Better be quiet and romantic. It should probably have a waterfall feature. Oh, and you should probably skinny dip too. Duh. Obviously.

All said and done we hit 11 tubs in that fateful night.

Ski towns are littered with hot tubs. Some on rooftops, some in backyards, and plenty in your local high-end hotels. These are my favorite prey. It was on a cold December night not too many winters ago that I and several cohorts had just departed a local watering hole in the wee hours of the night and came up with the bright-yet-slightly-inebriated idea to poach a hot tub. It seemed like the logical thing to do at the time. But then came the difficult decision of which venue to choose. The Ritz Carlton? The condos at the end of town? The Grand Hyatt? All good decisions with nice ambiance, reasonable temperatures (I like a comfortable 104 degrees), and close proximity to the neighborhood. Indecision ensued. The booze wasn't helping. Then out of nowhere it came to us, like a shared moment of enlightenment. We should poach ALL OF THEM. So naturally we proceeded to do just that.

A quick pit stop at home to grab the essentials: beer, whiskey, swim trunks. We were off to the races and the first stop was the neighbors’ place. Don't worry, they're never there. A brief soak and a couple suds later and we we're already discussing our next location. "What about the OTHER neighbors who are never home?!?" says my pal D-Money. Great idea, I love those neighbors. So we hopped the fence and headed to our second venue with ease where we enjoyed a totally custom hot tub with with some nice shrubbery and impeccable stonework--really nice nuances that enhanced our poaching experience. This was my favorite of the two so far. But what laid ahead in our great hot tub escapade? Only the future held the answer.

We quickly decided on the condos a block up the road for our next foray. A quick jaunt through the snow and we were at the Mother Queen of Condominium complexes. Complete with a large pool and one of the best views in town, this was gonna be a great soak. We plunged our bodies into the tub, but were bitten by the icy cold waters of a Jacuzzi that was clearly out of order. Damn, strike one. Luckily for us there's always another hot tub a block away in this little place called Asssspen.

Our next choice was much warmer and infinitely more enjoyable. The snow started to fall and the beer went down easy, but we couldn't stay long. We had more poaching to do. So on and on we went through the night, running from tub to tub. We hit the Dynamite Condos, we hit the Mountain Goddess, we hit the Party Haus, we slipped on ice, we fell in snowbanks, we would've poached the Manor but they had locked the tub cover knowing dirtbags like us still roamed the streets of Aspen. Damn, strike two. We hit the Manhattan Condominiums and then the tub at the time shares of the Dubois Residences. All truly prized poaches to add to our growing résumés. We were on a roll. So naturally, what came next was of no surprise: we were gonna poach the crown jewel! The mother fucking Ritz Carlton!

This particular poach would require all of our focus, skill, and determination. Security patrols and daunting icy iron fences were of concern, but so was our beer supply. We trudged on despite the obstacles ahead. We squeezed through a break in the fence line guarding the property. We ducked behind trees when the spotlights traced by. We payed special attention to the eyes of the ever-present security cameras. Finally--in the distance--we saw our destination, the sanctuary of the Ritz Carlton courtyard. One last deterrent laid in our way. The damn key card gate. Everything hinged on those hinges. Fate manifested as a gate. How could we get through? We pondered our next move for an eternity. Out of nowhere our lone babe Kare Bear instinctively reached for the handle, turned it, and bingo bango, the thing just opened. It's better to be lucky than good, they say.

It’s all over I thought. My mom is gonna read about this in the paper. We're fucked.

We strolled into our very own poachers paradise: Three separate tubs, each at different temps for one's personal soaking pleasure, surrounded a glorious infinity pool lined with small pine trees. Towels stood by in a heated closet. The acoustics of the waterfall played a symphony for our ears. We each took a body of water to ourselves to "soak" in the night’s events and what our band of hot tub hooligans had accomplished. All said and done we hit 11 tubs in that fateful night. A feat of great import, the stuff of ski town lore, maybe even a Guinness World Record.

After a moment we all gathered in the central tub to enjoy our last suds of the evening. The lights picked up the increasing snowfall. Serenity now we thought. We toasted our achievement, and no sooner did the cans clink together did Carey Green shout "SECURITY!" We clamored to exit the tub surrounded by ice and beer cans. I slipped and fell flat on my ass. We gave our best effort to hightail it out of the scene of the crime, but alas, we were cornered. Damn, strike three.

Anyone in this town knows that the Ritz Carlton doesn't take poaching hot tubs as lightly as us ski bums do, so naturally we were terrified. The thought of police officers and trespassing charges made our buttonholes pucker. We went for the feather in our cap and instead were going down in flames. It’s all over I thought. My mom is gonna read about this in the paper. We're fucked. Then the lead security guard came out of the building and walked toward our shivering bodies. He pulled our friend D-Money aside. They chatted in the shadows for a few seconds, then he turned and said we were all free to go. Just like that we pulled out of a nose dive and a night in jail. As we were escorted off the property, I asked my buddy what the hell he had just pulled off. D-Money simply said, "He owed me money from last year’s fantasy football league." Turns out, it still is good to live in a small ski town.

We stumbled home as the snowflakes delicately piled on top of each other at a rate of a billion a second. Gazillions fell in total. We all said goodnight and laid our well-soaked bodies to rest around three in the morning. We didn't sleep long, but we slept like babies. The next day we woke early. We skied powder. It was a glorious day. The End.

*The names and locations in this story have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent.