Summer this year seems to be coming with a flip of the switch. I’m talking both the weather and the busyness. This spring season was old school that let winter hang on well into June. Heck, the first day of summer saw snow falling in Crested Butte.
It’s happened before and I recall one particularly brutal Fourth of July parade where people scrambled for cover when a sudden snow squall blanketed Elk Avenue and the temperature dipped to below freezing. The MC was under the flatbed and the RMBL folks in their green skunk cabbage coverings were blue.
The phone forecast doesn’t look wintery anymore. Plenty of sunshine and high temps in the 70s. Ahhhh, the best days anywhere. Of course as I write this, it is raining sideways and the skate rats are scrambling for cover on this late Tuesday afternoon. But that “dynamism” is part of what makes Crested Butte different.
The activity on Elk Avenue has a similar feel. The switch is on the verge of flipping. It is busy but not over the top busy yet and that harkens back to an old school feel when the masses didn’t arrive until July. It is then that we feel the stress of lines at restaurants, crowds on Elk Avenue, full trailheads, the nearest parking space a block away from where you want it. I can feel the switch flipping and while last season was more of a dimmer constantly rising starting about Memorial Day, the weather this year seems to have delayed some of the visitors.
And because the weather is turning to beautiful summer mode, the people will come. It is heaven here in the summer. And of course that’s when many of us get busy and can’t enjoy it all as much as we’d like. Remember though that July/August keeps us at work but basically pays for those sweet October/November/December/April/May/June days when work is scarce but the mountains are still accessible.
Because I felt (wrongly) caught up, I did manage a Lupine lunch ride on Monday. It was pretty nice even though I had to return several phone calls before hitting the dirt single track. It also allowed me a few early summer photo ops. The wonder of technology allowing a quick backcountry get away in the middle of a work day is pretty nice, I must admit. That modern technology also let me know my 12-and-a-half-mile ride took about an hour-and-a-half (Hey, I was working) but it was an appreciated 90 minutes in the wildflowers and along the Slate River.
Breathing in some of the cleanest air anywhere in the world and feeling the breeze beneath a bright sun at 9,000 feet is centering. I will hold that 90 minutes inside me over the next couple of weeks when I really won’t have the time to do it again on a Monday. That hour and a half was refreshing and enlightening and a reminder of why we choose to live here. A workday bike ride is a treat this time of year.
That lunch ride was also sort of a tribute to my friend Tom, who passed over to the great bike ride in the sky last weekend. He was a funny guy who liked road bikes and mountain bikes and any sort of trail. He loved his original Willits 29-incher that he purchased here many decades ago and claimed it was the best-fitting bike he’d ever had. I had taken Tom with me in my heart on a Saturday ride of Snodgrass. He passed over on Sunday. He went with me to Lupine on Monday and he really enjoyed the purple wildflowers and the new Gunsight Bridge.
So part of the lesson is to remember why you are here. It’s not simply to make more money to buy more toys you don’t have time to use. It’s to get out there. Tom was younger than me. A Tulsa woman who died in a tragic accident on the Gunnison River last week was only 31. A party for Chainless stalwart Matty Robb who passed away way too young will be held Friday.
Look…no one really knows when his or her time in this realm will end. And in the big picture, it may not matter since this journey may be just one of many. But come on—this journey is in a pretty good place.
So if you have the chance to enjoy this particular trip in the universe—and summer in Crested Butte certainly provides that opportunity—do it. Do it for yourself and for those you love who can no longer do it. Be responsible to your co-workers but get out there. We are fortunate to live where we do. Take the hour hike or the quick Lower Loop lunch break. It will refresh your soul. It will clear your mind. It won’t always be possible when the flip gets totally switched here soon. It will help you get through the upcoming busy weeks that allow the working stiffs to stay here year-round. It will keep you centered. It will keep you grateful.
Don’t forget to get out there. “Tis the time.