Going off at the fall peak…

“Have a great one…”

A fun thing to do while hiking or biking on a trail near Crested Butte is to say ‘hi’ or acknowledge the people coming the other way. “Have a great one,” I’ll often say on the trails. You can tell people who have lived around here awhile as they’ll say ‘hi’ back whether they know you or not. Responses from a lot of the visitors from what I assume are the big city, range from saying nothing and not responding at all to obviously being taken aback that a stranger talked to them. They seem uncomfortable and don’t know what to do. 

That hesitation to connect is fortunately, still a rarity in our small community. Honestly, most people respond with a smile instead of reaching to protect their wallet or hide behind a tree. This past weekend presented no shortage of greeting opportunity. I mean the town was going off all weekend and not without good reason.

The fall colors seemed to have suddenly caught up and are back in line with our typical September splendor. Coming into town Saturday morning I was consciously grateful to live here as the little kids in their powder blues were running around the town park kicking soccer balls. This was after the high school soccer team destroyed our archrival, Telluride, on Friday afternoon in front of a big hometown crowd. Good on the Titans.

Leaving the office Saturday about 10 I was awed by the number of people of all ages skating at the Bowl Bash by Big Mine Park. I heard Levi’s name and his love for the sport and support for the little up-and-comers mentioned more than once over the speaker. I walked to Emma Coburn’s Elk Run 5K and was over-awed. The energy was palpable, the crowd was enthused, the cause was honorable. And watching Emma work was, frankly, inspirational. She high fived every participant as they crossed the finish line and took every photo request that was made of her. She just didn’t stop, and her work ethic and passion were contagious. She made people’s days, if not their week or month. Her attitude, the race organization, the cheesy band, the champagne crowd crawl, the top flight event and the donation to Living Journeys was all a bright sun on a perfect fall day.

Along with our house guests, we walked a closed Elk Ave. and stumbled into the Artumn Fest set up in the First Street parking lot. Sort of a small cross between the People’s Fair and Art’s Festival, it stuck out as a less homegrown event. It was interesting enough but was quiet and I didn’t recognize anyone. I did buy something for Diane and the artists I talked to were here for the first time and blown away by the beauty of the valley. Our great fall community-rooted festival, Vinotok wrapped up Thursday with a Community Feast. The organizers wasted no time cleaning up the Four-way Friday morning (kudos!), but the Vinotok altars were still assembled so we, along with several others, walked the tour along Peanut Lake Road. It was great again. 

The Crested Butte Film Fest was back in person last weekend and brought in some really interesting artistic types along with people who just really enjoy fascinating films. I love that energy brought here through film and storytelling at the end of September. The Majestic had a grand re-opening, wedding tents seemed to be erected every 300 feet in every drainage and there was no shortage of long dresses and ties walking around late Saturday afternoon. I heard some restaurants had top five weekends in terms of business and while certainly busy, it just didn’t feel toooooo much over the top. Even with a lot of people in and around Crested Butte it felt right. Those here seemed to respect and appreciate the place, our home. They fit in with the many, many things going on this past weekend and those things seemed to fit here. And that makes a difference.

So, when the opportunity came up to take a couple colorful rides through the golden aspens near CB, I more than once returned on the Lower Loop. As expected, that gave me the opportunity to say ‘hi’ and wish a lot of people I didn’t know to ‘have a great one.’ A few didn’t respond or stumbled through a mumbled response. But most everyone smiled back and wished me a great day as well. The colors were popping, the temperatures were perfect and for whatever reason they were drawn here, the events and the people that came were true to the place. It was one of those weekends that infused people, myself included, with love and gratitude. I have no doubt many of the visitors I encountered will be back.

Last week was one of those times when the town was going off. Would I want that 24/7, 365 days a year? No way…but I’m glad this is a tourist town given all the amenities and opportunities such a place provides. This past weekend showed what good people can feel with good events that reflect this good corner of the Earth. Despite all our challenges, this remains a special place.

Have a great one.

—Mark Reaman

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