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Profile: Kristi Murrin

Following her own path

 

The aged dark wood of antique colonial furniture may be the first thing you notice walking into Kristi Murrin’s office, at once homey, welcoming and a pocket of Appalachian goodness. She grew up in northern West Virginia, in the former boomtown of Shinnston.
“The classic thing you see in West Virginia is a formerly booming town that stopped booming 40 years ago, so a lot of the buildings are boarded up—big tall buildings, like ten stories tall, boarded up for decades,” Kristi says of the area that is home to depleted coal mines. “It’s really poor, there’s no economy and it’s still like that today but West Virginians are very proud. We’ve always been on the bottom of the economic spectrum. We’re one of the very poorest states in the union so there’s that bonding between everybody, like a family. I go home and still feel that.”

The aged dark wood of antique colonial furniture may be the first thing you notice walking into Kristi Murrin’s office, at once homey, welcoming and a pocket of Appalachian goodness. She grew up in northern West Virginia, in the former boomtown of Shinnston.
“The classic thing you see in West Virginia is a formerly booming town that stopped booming 40 years ago, so a lot of the buildings are boarded up—big tall buildings, like ten stories tall, boarded up for decades,” Kristi says of the area that is home to depleted coal mines. “It’s really poor, there’s no economy and it’s still like that today but West Virginians are very proud. We’ve always been on the bottom of the economic spectrum. We’re one of the very poorest states in the union so there’s that bonding between everybody, like a family. I go home and still feel that.”
Kristi finds that same community spirit in both Crested Butte and Irwin, the latter also once a booming mining town when silver was king. This is where she chooses to live, in a sparsely inhabited ghost town with only a handful of other hardy Irwinites on a mountainside in her A-frame. At 10,000 feet in altitude, Irwin is accessible only by snowmobile in winter months and became a ghost town when silver was devalued in the late 1800s bust. All the buildings that supported more than 3,000 miners and families—churches, houses, hotels and stores—were either moved or succumbed to the extremely harsh winters and avalanches.
“Community is a big thing for me. The two words, community and cooperation, are a theme for me and Irwin is becoming a community for me because I feel like I’m getting to know everybody up there. There’s a lot of talk in Irwin about coming together and being even more of a community,” Kristi says. “There’s only about 18 residents in the winter. You have to transport on a sled and there’s a rough and tough attitude and an adventure lifestyle. I feel blessed every moment.” Kristi smiles at the epic lifestyle that she dreamt of for 15 years, and that finally manifested for her three years ago.
Kristi claims to have gotten a head start on skiing because her mother skied while pregnant right up until the time Kristi was born. “My mom was a ski instructor all her life, from the time she was 18,” she says, adding that both of her parents skied. “I was up on skis when I was two years old, when we moved from Plattsburgh, New York to West Virginia and mom taught skiing at Canaan Valley. Our whole lives revolved around skiing. In the summertime we were just waiting for winter to come,” she laughs.
Kristi says her mother gave her the name Kristi “because of the Kristi stem turn.” Growing up with ski instructors and their clinics, “Old, chiseled, tanned Germans with maps of German ski areas plastered on their walls,” Kristi became an instructor herself in her freshman year of high school.
In 1986, when Wisp Ski Resort in western Maryland introduced snowboarding, Kristi jumped on for the ride. “Before there were bindings you held onto a rope on the front of the board. Then Burton came out with a board with bindings but the ‘no boarding’ without bindings is sort of coming back in style now.”
Kristi graduated from high school in 1990, decided she was moving to Colorado to ski and enrolled at CSU in Fort Collins. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I just wanted to be in Colorado.” She was studying recreational resource management because, she says, “I just wanted to be outdoors and I wanted to bring people there to let them see the beauty and value in nature. Once they get away from their jobs and into nature, I knew it had to be healthy, a form of healing, a separation from the daily grind and I knew that had to be good.”
Realizing she was already deep into student debt at the age of 19, Kristi dropped out of CSU and moved to Winter Park to ski, where she met Steve Melnick and Eric Green, who were living in a ten-foot by ten-foot shack in the woods. “We skied all winter together and came to Crested Butte for a Phish show at WSC in 1992. We realized it was a real community with a health food store and an awesome ski area. Winter Park didn’t have that feel to it,” so by summer of 1993, eight of the Winter Park contingent of friends had moved to Crested Butte. “Most of them are still here,” Kristi smiles.
Although she felt Crested Butte was home, Kristi had found a calling in homeopathy and moved to Boulder the following year to study alternative health care while attending Front Range Community College for science and pre-med. “Once I got into homeopathy I realized that I wanted to do alternative health care. My inspiration was meeting Sandy Moore, who helped with back problems that I had and turned me onto yoga when I lived in Crested Butte in ‘93. I had all these back issues and wanted a more natural healing approach so I went to yoga classes in Jerry’s Gym twice a week.”
Transferring to CU, Kristi graduated in 1999 with a degree in molecular, cellular and developmental biology. “I’m a geek,” she laughs. “I was studying two entirely different worlds. One was a very material-based science where you can see it—it’s genetics, splicing DNA, inserting vectors—and the other was an energetic science, where you can’t see it. You have be intuitive to the characteristic nature of things.”
She bolted back to the Butte right after grabbing her degree. “I was desperate to get out of Boulder. I’m not a city girl and I missed Crested Butte so much. I’d always come and spend any free time back here.”
Back in Crested Butte again, Kristi determined she needed four things to exist here—a job, a ski pass, health insurance and a place to live. “I landed a full-time job working at Crested Butte Academy teaching math and science and I was a dorm parent,” she says. She spent five years at the academy before taking a position back in her native West Virginia to help start a traveling high school for kayaking kids. It allowed her to travel the world with her students—Australia, New Zealand, Costa Rica.
When she returned from her world journey of rivers, she walked back into her job at the Crested Butte Academy for a year before heading off to Missoula for six years to teach math and science at yet another traveling high school for kids who kayak. There she developed a curriculum and helped get the school accredited.
Every chance she had, Kristi would return to Crested Butte and spend all summer camping out on Oh Be Joyful, paddling all the creeks. “I still called this place home,” she admits. “I always had my bank accounts and P.O. box here, but I had a traveling job that took me away for periods of two months at a time throughout the year,” she says of her travels even further to Africa, China, Peru, Argentina, Chile, and Mexico. “We were paddling all the world renowned rivers for kayaking. But every time I would land on American soil I would run to Crested Butte.”
She finished up teaching with the traveling high school in 2010, returning to the Butte for good because, Kristi says, “I wanted to start teaching yoga and get back into alternative health care.” Signing up for a yoga teacher training retreat in Bali, Kristi notes, “I always knew I wanted to be a yoga instructor even in those first Iyengar classes at Jerry’s gym. I’ve always been a teacher. I love processing info and then delivering it to people in a way they can really understand. I love going all over the world and bringing back new perspectives. I knew I needed more life experience before I could begin teaching,” and with all her years of traveling, teaching and experience, Kristi feels she’s ready to help people.
“I’ve had a lot of loss in my life. Earth shattering losses of friends and family. The second anyone goes through loss like that, the energetic grief I feel from them, I know I can sit with them because I get it. It’s a huge part of what makes me want to help others. I’m doing what I do now because I have so much compassion for people. Everyone has their own story. Homeopathy can help with that grief.”
Ayurveda is based in Hindu traditional medicine, and Kristi points out that it’s over 5,000 years old and the oldest documented wellness medicine. It’s based in maintaining balance among the five elements—earth, air, fire, water, space. With Ayurveda, Kristi explains, “I teach people the tools that they can use within this tradition to find balance, physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. I do a combination of Ayurveda and homeopathy. The latter is a science developed over 200 years ago and based on the idea that the body has its own ability to heal itself,” Kristi says. She adds, “Ever since I went to Bali, I was introduced to the gamut of knowledge in yoga, which goes way beyond just stretching,” she says of the combined health disciplines.
“I’ve got my basket of three services—homeopathy for the energetic body, the Ayurveda for lifestyle tools in your everyday life, learning how to be intuitive in the foods that you eat, the times of the day and seasons that you do activities to help find balance in your everyday life and how you take care of yourself, and yoga, for physical activity of sound body and mind.”
Along with yoga teacher Katie Heinle, Kristi created the Crested Butte Community Yoga Coop, which offers a variety of classes with different teachers. Kristie feels the coop is specifically designed to be easily accessible to local Buttians with affordable prices. (For schedules and information, visit cbyogacoop.com as well as the community page on Facebook.)
Kristi always felt the strength of the Crested Butte community and it’s largely what keeps her here. “There’s not a day that goes by that I’m not amazed at just how beautiful this community is. Even though there are differences that come up, it blows me away because we get through it and we remain a healthy, functioning community. My hopes are that we stay a community, always considering the full spectrum of people who need to live here. We have the ability to still be our Mayberry selves but it takes conscientiousness. A community that supports each other, no matter the differences, and is willing to be open to other perspectives.”

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