That locals’ summer magic

Our trusty editor Mark Reaman is out of town this week for some well-earned beach vacay time. Stay tuned next week for his regularly scheduled editorial…

June always seems to bring a little extra magic to the valley – the temps are pushing 70, the wildflowers are starting to pop, school’s out for the summer, the rivers are raging, town isn’t crazy packed yet. It’s the locals’ summer, baby!

This past week, I’ve been feeling some extra appreciation and gratitude for our little slice of paradise. Over the weekend, my fiancé and I finally tackled an objective we’d been plotting for a while: ski, mountain bike, trail run, paddle board and rock climb all in one day, all in the North Valley. From Kebler Pass to the Slate River to Cement Creek, we’d take on five outdoor adventure sports. Counting the approach hikes up to ski and rock climb and a little yoga at the end of it all to stretch the tired muscles, I’ll round it up to seven “sports” for good measure.

For some of the Gary-Go-Hards in this town, this might just be your average Tuesday. Others may wonder why the hell we’d choose such an aggressive Saturday activity. But we were stoked on the mission, and this early June window proved to be the perfect opportunity for our multi-sport endeavor.

As we took our (surprisingly great) ski turns, swooshed through the lupines on our bikes, jogged along town’s trails, paddled our way along the snaky Slate and climbed our way up the granite rock walls, I couldn’t help but fall in love with this town again for the millionth time. From start to finish, we found ourselves grinning from ear to ear, exchanging knowing glances of our good fortune. Where else could we have made this happen but in Crested Butte?

Along the way, we encountered others in the backcountry, on the trails and the river, sharing the stoke. We ran into old friends, we made new friends. We exchanged beta, and neighbors lent us gear. We saw folks utilizing the new Slate River boat launch. We watched (with a twinge of guilt) as CBMBA volunteers were hard at work on the Baxter Gulch hillside creating an awesome new downhill trail. There were kids playing volleyball in the park, celebrating the end of another school year. We saw local entrepreneurs – from neighborhood lemonade stands to Four-way Stop hot dogs to wedding mixologists in Town Ranch. And at the end of it all, we treated ourselves to a bite in town and enjoyed the luxury of getting seated right away and easily finding a primo parking spot. The food hit the spot, the service was great, and afterward we even found ourselves wandering into shops we don’t usually patronize, just for fun. In one day, we saw so much of the heart and soul of this place.

Strolling along Elk Avenue at sunset, we soaked in everything the North Valley had gifted us that day – sunshine, smiles, stoke. It was pretty close to perfect. And I try to remember that feeling come Monday morning, back to the inbox and the tough realities of life right now…war, mass shootings, COVID, the housing crisis, inflation, drought…we’re all currently going through a lot. I know one perfect day in CB isn’t going to make all that go away, but it definitely filled my cup for now.

It’s June in Crested Butte, and it really doesn’t get much better than this. The weather is fine, the trails are opening up and the crowds are minimal. Now’s the time to soak it in, because in just a few short weeks we’ll be sharing paradise with a much bigger pool of folks. Take a moment to remember why we choose to live here, get out there and enjoy our home – hike those trails, float those rivers, hit the bike park opening this weekend, eat out on Elk, visit the Farmer’s Market, or whatever it is that fills your CB cup. Catch some of that locals’ summer magic. 

—Kendra Walker

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