Off-season is peaking but there is still stuff happening

Just because the April school break is the slowest week of the year for Crested Butte doesn’t mean nothing is happening. Early in the week when the weather was warm and sunny, Cement Creek Road was (semi) busy with those who chose to stay here, most with their dogs. While snow was receding from the shoulders of the road, there were not any crocus or pasque flowers blooming yet. There was a moose that caused some excitement as it made its way down the road and along the snowy banks of Cement Creek. A good wildlife sighting is always appreciated, especially in the off-season.

In that vein, the local bears have apparently woken up and are probably surprised at the snow coverage. One or two made their way this week to the place where food too often can be easy and abundant—the town and its garbage cans. While it seems early given the snowpack, it is time to pay attention to your garbage cans and not make it easy for bears to access the trash. That can unfortunately result in a harsh relocation or even death sentence for the bears, so make it hard for them to find anything to eat in town.

Speaking of snowpack…the entire basin is covered with above-average snow and local safety officials are talking about what happens if we get a fast warm-up that sends that snow cascading into the rivers and creeks so quickly that flooding occurs. Emergency personnel gathered Monday to discuss the first steps of how to handle flooding issues. The meeting started out with good news as they were told the regional forecast is calling for continued below-freezing overnight temperatures which will hopefully keep the potential runoff manageable. Of course, weather can change quickly, but it appears spring is lining up to have the melting take place over weeks and months instead of days. Whew. That doesn’t mean there won’t be issues when trees and boulders clog the rivers and push the water into your basement, but the initial forecast is an optimistic one for dealing with spring runoff.

While that colder, sometimes snowy or rainy weather can ease the flooding concerns, it can increase the struggles some people confront as they deal mentally through an often tough time of year. Mountain towns can be glorious places to live, but they also come with challenges and spring seems to exaggerate those challenges. We have a list of mental health counselors who might be able help those dealing with such struggles on page 10. Use it now or cut it out for the future if you are struggling. You aren’t alone and if someone can assist you in dealing with a hard time, do not be afraid to reach out.

The county on Monday officially broke ground on a new affordable housing project near the fairgrounds in Gunnison that should have people living in it by the end of the summer. Fantastic. The Buena Vista-based manufacturer of the homes plans to bring in the boxes that turn into a neighborhood within a couple weeks. The fact that the county is building a project that reflects the existing neighborhood is a huge plus. Again, making nice, comfortable places for locals to live should be a priority over cramming as many bedrooms as possible to appease businesses looking for workers. Our friends and neighbors will be living in Sawtooth and they deserve a nice place to live in a comfortable neighborhood, not just a roof over their head to rest between jobs.

On Tuesday, the county also took the next step in redesigning the Brush Creek intersection in conjunction with the future Whetstone affordable housing project. The county is buying a small piece of land to accommodate infrastructure needs and is entering into a contract with a firm that will design the roundabout and underpass at that location. Looking at the early designs, it will definitely change the area, and county commissioner Laura Puckett Daniels on Tuesday said “It will be a big impact to that area…” She is right but, overall, it is intended to make that intersection safer and more compatible with the future Whetstone housing project.

Oh, and there was another reminder to be aware out there, wherever there is. Two locals were kite boarding on the Taylor Reservoir Saturday afternoon. The ice was not super solid at one point and one of the kite boarders fell through into the lakeabout 50 yards from shore. Brrrr. He was able to extract himself and was fine as was his partner who did not fall through and was about 150 yards out on the lake. Brrrr. County sheriffs responded to the situation which ended up okay but it’s another reminder to be careful in the backcountry no matter what you are doing there…

With almost anyone with kids escaping to a beach or a desert, it is indeed one of the slowest weeks of the year in Crested Butte. Those that stayed here are drawn to slow down and chat, catch up on chores that were ignored in order to ski powder, and watch other people’s dogs. There is not much traffic in town or on the highway. Despite the dust, people are still skiing in the backcountry, and more than a few bikers are seeking out any dry road to get their legs into shape for when the trails down south finally open. The Elk Avenue benches fill up throughout the day as people reconnect with others who embrace the slowness. The bears are visiting town and moose share the roads. It is a good time of year to experience the slow mountain town people so often reflect on. Crested Butte won’t feel like this in July. Enjoy it while you can and welcome back to those who got to hang with the palm trees and red rocks.

—Mark Reaman

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