As I sat in the coffee shop in Mt. Crested Butte Monday morning after skinning up the hill, it was madness. A constant stream of people, primarily families heading toward the ski lifts, coming from the hotels and buses at 8:15 a.m. That stream was continuous and I left about an hour later. Dads with backpacks were carrying four sets of skis. Moms had ski boots in their hands and strapped around their necks. Kids were bundled up in layers and wearing both goggles and sunglasses, while sleepily stumbling toward
the ticket office.
I am always amazed at flatlanders coming to a ski resort on Spring Break, given the hassle
of gear and price compared to a beach vacation where you carry a blanket and a cooler down to the free sand. But I love it and respect them for understanding the call of the mountains. Making memories at 9,000 feet is an adventure. I’ve always said that if our boys hadn’t been born in a ski town, chances are they’d be really good bowlers instead of really good skiers and hockey players.
So when I hear of or witness the sanctimonious local banging on the floundering tourists at Spring Break I shake my head for several reasons. While certainly not at the same level of those who took the plunge and moved here to live in the mountains and ski 100 days a year, these people are trying their best to experience the mountain vibe. Somewhere in their soul is the understanding that mountains are calling. It would have been easier to head to Disneyland, or Moab, on a cruise or to an all-inclusive resort in Mazatlán, but they are here. And if the crusty locals don’t at least appreciate that, they are living in the toocool Crestitude bubble.
Add to the fact that having these throngs a few times a year is what allows the crusty locals to actually stay here year-round and it is absurd to me that there are some who go out of their way to be rude and full of dark attitude to these people. While not always easy, these busy periods might be looked at as the sacrifice zones. Sacrifice zones include a few days or weeks in March, December, August and now, all of July.
Sure, it can get crowded and irritating and it can throw a crusty local on his or her fat bike out of rhythm. But it is during the sacrifice zones that the bank accounts of local business and individual workers get refilled. Yeah, it might be harder to get a slice at 6:30 in the evening or a tall, triple, venti, soy, no foam latte at 7:30 a.m. but just chill and think about June. When someone stops the Suburban at Third and Elk and unloads three families while you are trying to hurry to the post office, think about September. When someone
accidentally bumps into you at the base area and then asks which is the bus to town as the bus with the big “Town Shuttle” signs pulls up, think about January. When someone blows through a stop sign at 30 mph or runs into your kid on the ski hill, by all means, go all crusty Crested Butte on them. That’s just a matter of manners.
But overall, perhaps take a breath in the current chaos and appreciate the big-picture life you live in these mountains. Believe it or not, these people are your soul brothers and sisters trying to taste a slice of your life. Sure, it is surface soul at this point but the search for a kernel of mountain magic is there and that is to be respected.
Another sign of madness in the middle of this March is the quickly receding snowbanks. A
tourist stopped me Monday afternoon and asked about the copious amounts of snow along Maroon Avenue. I explained that a month ago you couldn’t see over the tops of the snowbanks and town was like a series of snow mazes. It blew his mind since he had been to Crested Butte before and had never seen this much snow—and it’s not that much snow anymore. For us, it looks like the remnants of that epic January event are quickly disappearing and we might see some bare ground sooner than any of us would have expected a month ago. Now let’s hope we don’t get the dreaded 100-inch April.
Keeping an eye on the lawsuit between two Crested Butte homeowners and the town over
how stringent the homeowners have to be in renting their accessory dwellings (ADU) is at times maddening. There has been a flurry of lawyering involved as the homeowners, Mr. Mize and Mr. Kiltz, represented by attorney Marcus Lock, have asked the judge for a partial summary judgment to basically dismiss the case with a win for them. The lawyer brought in by the town has responded aggressively (and at times poignantly and humorously) and asked that the judge dismiss the plaintiff’s request or at least issue a stay so that the town lawyers can delve into details in the motion, some of which they indicate they find fishy. Seeing the amount of paperwork involved is March Madness but it can be interesting reading. We’ll let you know when the judge makes a decision in the lawsuit which, as we have always said, could go either way and will have broad ramifications on affordable housing ADUs in town.
Anyway, with still sweet snow, afternoon sunshine and temperatures in the 40s, this is not a bad time of year. Yeah, we have to share it with a lot of people we don’t recognize but that’s the deal we all made choosing to live in a tourist ski town. It’s probably still pretty quiet over in Pitkin. It ain’t all bad so don’t let yourself spiral into the crusty hole of bad attitude. Instead, enjoy the spring, fill up the bank account and think about your off-season trip to the desert, or the beach, or the all-inclusive, where you too will be a tourist. As for the standard March Madness: I have Villanova and Louisville in the final game with Villanova taking it. Write it down.