Up here in the valley, it is hard not to love fall. The temperatures are chilly at night and pleasant during the day. The autumn light makes even the worst iPhone photographer look like they are channeling Ansel Adams in color. And the colors can be amazing. Strand, the Dyke, Kebler or Ohio Pass can fill the soul this time of year. The clear night sky shows the shifting constellations and their pinpoints of light seem to be peepholes into another universe. The relaxed vibe of the towns and the valley is a welcome chord after the constant beat of the summer crowds. Fall is a time for those who choose to live here.
So as I have argued for years with people who want to “promote Crested Butte to fill out the shoulder seasons”—please don’t try to turn this “shoulder season” into a “July light.” I too want to embrace the weekend economy bonus that puts money in our offseason wallets and tides us over until the ski lifts begin turning, but there is no need to ruin some of the best weeks of our year by making them so busy we don’t have time to experience them ourselves. Let’s make sure there is opportunity for those living here to actually love living here.
Part of the difference between fall and summer can be seen in an initiative spearheaded by local activist Sue Navy. A move is underway to take a Sunday in October and clean up some of the mess from that summer busyness. So if all the pieces fall into place, representatives of various local nonprofit organizations will get together October 16 to help clean up one of the drainages that typically gets pounded in summer.
“The intent is to pick up trash in the Slate River Valley, focusing on dispersed camping areas, then filling in as time allows. We could potentially go into another valley as well, depending on the number of people, time, weather, but we’re starting with a piece we feel we can manage successfully,” Sue explained. “We have more than a dozen nonprofits and others so far: HCCA (High Country Conservation Advocates), CBMBA (Crested Butte Mountain Bike Association), CCWC (Coal Creek Watershed Coalition), CBLT [Crested Butte Land Trust], 1% for Open Space, Sustainable Crested Butte, the Wildflower Festival, Crested Butte Nordic, the town of Crested Butte, the U.S. Forest Service, the Crested Butte-Mt. Crested Butte Chamber of Commerce, Share the Slate, the Gunnison Public Lands Initiative and Waste Management, Inc.”
Navy said Waste Management is generously waiving fees for the trash collected. As is standard with these types of gatherings in this valley, there will be a barbecue and beer afterwards for participants.
“We believe this will be a great opportunity to all work together. We hope to inspire protection of our public lands, especially where future facilities are needed to handle the pressures on our environment,” Sue said.
That sounds like a great off-season idea and they all deserve a tip of the hat for coming together for a good purpose.
Alissa Johnson’s insightful Crested Butte News series on marijuana legalization, how it works here in the valley and its impact on us, is another indicator of why weed really poses no dark threat to the world despite the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) claim it belongs in the same category as heroin and cocaine. The government should not fear marijuana. But perhaps the pharmaceutical industry fears legalized pot because of the anticipation that a weed loved by both rednecks and hippies that, at least anecdotally, helps ease pain, could cut into some of its profits. And I’ll go out on a limb and guess that industry carries some influence with politicians. But as more and more states legalize marijuana, the people are speaking. Of course, it should be studied further for its medicinal benefits but it should be regulated and permitted to be used by citizens. Despite a statement on the White House website that says legalization of marijuana will “significantly diminish efforts to keep our young people drug free…” the president is wrong on this one. Try as you might—young people in general will all never be drug free, but honest evaluations, discussions and actions can lead to responsible use of substances like marijuana.
Vinotok starts this week and I am a fan of an impressive bonfire. Honestly, I like the big fire with the drums and the stars and the Grump. But I understand the concerns of the neighbors, the town and the safety officials when the fire is that big. The concerns are legit. While it appeared at first that some of the festival organizers were reluctant to address those concerns, they actually did and they did so constructively. I have no idea what the fire will be like this year but Vinotokers seem confident it will respect the spirit of the fall festival, be safe and be cool as well.
And finally—if you go to the Benchtalk section of the paper you will see two wedding photos of kids who grew up in Crested Butte and are now making waves in the broader world. I would never dare to advise anyone how to raise kids but I will pass on some advice from the parents of Eric Reinhardt and Abby Leinsdorf that I had asked for probably 20 years ago. I had noticed how “good” their kids were and Diane and I were just getting into the Crested Butte kid business. Both sets of parents gave us a few tips but both emphasized that they tried to have dinner together as a family as often as possible. They both said that one action set a foundational tone for the family and while certainly not always easy given the demands of work, recreation and friends, it was an important piece of the family puzzle. So we tried, not always successfully, to keep that in mind as we raised our kids and found it to be true. And (in my opinion) it worked and helped make our kids the men they are today. Anyway, I can get away with writing this sort of thing in a small mountain town paper and it might plant a seed in some family with young kids living here today. Take it for what you will but having those two wedding photos come in this week just reminded me again how special this place can be—especially for the children who grow up here.
We are riding a special few weeks up here at 9,000 feet. Take some of the time you have and get out to appreciate it.