Fall colors

It was a bit of a surprise to see a dusting of white on the high peaks Tuesday morning. Not sure why that should be a surprise in the middle of September but every year, it is. Now, I am surprised at the timing of the leaves changing colors this fall. Just as I was losing faith and thinking the wet spring and summer would result in a dull or non-existent fall foliage show, the colors started turning last weekend. I swear they were changing from one end of a trail ride to the other. The ground cover was already spectacular and the aspens are getting there. There is still a lot of green on the hills and that is surprising. But it was a pleasant surprise to see some deep gold emerging this week. Let’s just hope the wind doesn’t come until October.

Council’s bizarre potty talk

As an astute member of the audience commented to me after a surprise 45-minute Town Council discussion over toilets last week: ”Is it always like this? I mean, everyone in the room [and it was a packed room given some big issues on the agenda] knew the town was going to pay for some more port-a-potties. Why did they talk about it for 45 minutes?”

That is a good question and there is really no good answer. The debate was certainly not about high-minded policy matters that needed Town Council guidance. It should have been an easy management issue as part of the event application. But it is not that surprising with the current council chemistry and frankly, the audience member was correct. Everyone knew the outcome 30 seconds into the discussion. And while councilman Jim Schmidt made a case to keep open the public bathrooms because they’re, well, public, closing them because there wasn’t a clear plan to monitor and maintain them was a foregone conclusion when it was evident that could come at a hefty cost and the Chamber of Commerce was adamantly against it.

Another audience member mentioned after the debate that “If you are going to throw a party, don’t you have to pay the band?” Well, yes. That would be Vinotok throwing the party. But given the group’s non-existent budget, everyone knew the town would pick up the tab. Now, all Vinotok has to do is ask—at the right time during one of two community grant opportunities—and I’m pretty certain they will be given money for event expenses.

So the issue of time wasted falls on a couple of places. The council is nuts to deliberately choose to add a surprise 45-minute discussion on toilet management to a packed agenda. That is an obvious management issue with obvious solutions. Vinotok organizers have two opportunities (one in September and one in May) to put in a simple grant request to the town to help pay for needed health and safety measures, including adequate bathrooms for the thousands of wreath-wearing tribe members imbibing who knows what and enjoying an impressive fall bonfire.

The Chamber of Commerce should certainly not be responsible for cleaning up after someone else’s party.

As councilman Chris Ladoulis said, “Dealing with bathrooms doesn’t seem like a good use of our collective time.” Not surprisingly, it isn’t.

Loving a trail to…

I was a little surprised with my first trip of the year to 401 last week. I was surprised I hadn’t gotten up there on the bike until September but, given the busyness and backcountry overuse issues of summer, I had avoided the premier mountain bike trail at the top of the valley. But with kids back in school and crowds back home, I hit it. I couldn’t believe how used it was. Granted, there was some good rain a few weeks ago but it appears some bikers just couldn’t wait to ride it so some good ruts were now part of the upper trail. Lots of use is part of the deal for promoting one of the prettiest trails in the country—and it still is pretty for sure. It was just a bit surprising at how pounded it feels right now.

—Mark Reaman

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