Snodgrass and entitlement not a good mix

There are so many good things about living here at the end of the road. The small-town feel, the incredible access to nature and mountain wilderness, the old school neighborly respect that permeates a small village. Of course, there’s always a few bad apples and it appears a couple have made their presence known this past week…

The only logical explanation I can think of is entitlement. And there is not much worse than an attitude of entitlement, especially an arrogant entitled action that could wreck longstanding community values. 

I saw a social media post last week asking why so many people were using the Snodgrass Trail when it was closed. The part on the Allen family property that comes out on Washington Gulch Road officially closed the last weekend of August. Riding Meander at the end of last week I noticed that Snodgrass was indeed a busy place in Mt. CB where it is open. Scores of hikers and bikers could be seen on the front side above Gothic Road. If I had an extra half hour, I would have been one of them as the colors were still spectacular, but I rode back down the hill.

On Monday, I zipped up to Washington Gulch and while there weren’t any cars parked at the trailhead, I decided to take a closer look. Being the investigative reporter that I am, I poked around and saw probably four relatively fresh bike tracks in the mud at the end of the trail by the road. Seriously?! My shaking head wanted to explode. While not at all busy at that moment and while I didn’t witness any actual use on two trips up there, it seemed evident that at least a few people had probably taken the trail in the past couple days. What the actual F?

Snodgrass is a local treasure, and not just the actual trail itself which is an easy top-five experience in these mountains. The understanding that makes the trail work across both public and private lands is indicative of this place and it more than tweaks me that anyone would put that in jeopardy. The Allen family generously allows hikers and bikers to use that trail when they are not using it for cattle purposes. But come the end of the summer and into the fall, that area is a waystation for part of their cattle herd. There were a ton of cows wandering the property during a sunny afternoon this week when I went back once again. People and cattle don’t mix well so it is very reasonable to close that portion of the trail on private property to people. 

Some historical perspective provided me from Helen Allen: The Allen Ranch is 137 years old and has been a part of the Crested Butte community for more than a century. She said the family was able to buy property back in the day when it was affordable for people of the land. Tim Allen, and his brother Dave Allen, (third generation) were the first to really cooperate with the community by opening up the Snodgrass Trail, (seasonally) and also the trail access to Long Lake. “The current Allens still are proud to be an essential part of our shared community,” she emphasized. “We just need people to respect private property. Thankfully 98% of people respect our ranching operation, as we respect other businesses and people. It’s just a few bad apples that are troubling. In the whole scheme of things, that’s pretty good…”

It is…and it isn’t. For new people who choose to live or visit here, it comes with a tacit agreement to respect the community that exists. And it certainly should come with an understanding not to puncture the spirit that makes this place work and keeps it different from other communities.

Whoever poached that trail may not understand the community agreement. They may not understand the reasoning. They may not understand what they are putting in peril. The Allen family has every right to not welcome people onto their property at any time, but they do allow the public to experience an incredible place linked to public lands when it is not being worked for their business. And for that I have been incredibly grateful for decades. The thought of some entitled jerk going by the two obvious “Closed” signs that are prominent at both ends of the private property tweaks me. The word “closed” is easy to understand.

It seemed this week that 98% of any Snodgrass activity was centered where it should be this time of year – on the Mt. Crested Butte side. But even if just 2% of the trail users are ignoring community manners and agreements, I trust karma will get them quickly. There is no excuse for that action.

It is the Crested Butte Community School October Break. Without a kid in school anymore we stay here and frankly, if the weather is nice (and it is this year) it can be one the finest weeks of the fall. It is super quiet, the transition to winter is on the horizon but the vibe is relaxed and unhurried. The colors are lingering beautifully. I certainly don’t want to be writing about entitled jerks who think that the village bonds don’t apply to them and thus they could ruin a really good thing for everyone. Access to Snodgrass is a really good thing for everyone. Entitlement is the attitude that weakens the cement keeping this place special… so don’t screw it up.

—Mark Reaman

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