Disaster?! Mud, trailers, cancelled election, and altars

The mud encasing people’s feet at Burning Man was the weirdest glopping of mud I’ve seen since trying to get out of Copley Lake on the wetland side. Despite the stories on national news that the Burners might have to ration food and water to survive the muddy morass, most people actually at the site seemed pretty chill to the circumstances and were going with the literal flow of rain in the desert. Disaster averted! 

Meanwhile, the real disasters, like the inability to get foie gras on Elk Avenue in July within 20 minutes of craving it, are here in this valley and not Black Rock City. Thank goodness an emergency has been declared! Mark Walter heard the call and is apparently coming to the rescue!

But it’s not just foie gras (which is a disaster itself). I mean the dozen or so snowmobile trailers parked along the Pyramid Avenue public right-of-way seem to be mysteriously multiplying. That is sending some into a tizzy as the road that leads to some of the most expensive homes in the North Valley is super visible and having to drive by janky trailers is considered by many to be a catastrophe. What will we do?! How will we make it through the fall until the town winter parking regs force the trailers to switch sides of the street every night for parking and they’ll probably go away?! 

You want a real issue? How about the fact that for the first time in my memory there is not going to be a town council election for Crested Butte. That’s just not right and seems so Mt. CB. And despite the regular assertion from councilmember and now shoe-in for another term, Mallika Magner, that there are fewer and fewer people living in town these days compared to a decade or two ago and that leads to a shortage of people available for town boards like the council—I think there are more people living in town now than just about ever. But fewer people may be willing to put in the time and take the flack for sitting on town council in a small town. It is more work than people think and there is certainly criticism involved, but Crested Butte has always been a place for people to step up, take a stand and work to make the place better. This lack of an election is a bit of a red flag, but I hope it is simply an anomaly and not the start of a trend toward an apathy disaster. 

One of the concerns that comes with the lack of a CB council election this fall is that citizens might not then take the time to vote for the only other local election up here—and that’s the school board. For the first time in decades there is a real election for that board and while it is early, there seems to be two distinct points of view of how a school board should guide the valley’s students. The newspaper will be reaching out to ask the opinions of the people running for that board but in our first attempt, three of them said they were basically too busy to respond. That already tells me a lot about people running for this public office and makes me sure I will not skip that vote this fall. You shouldn’t either because if you blow off voting this fall, you have no one else to blame for a potential disaster but yourself.

Keeping workers living in the North Valley is of utmost importance and that truly has been in crisis mode for a while now as free market prices push the working folks out of the CB area. The Mineral Point, Paradise Park, Homestead and Whetstone projects are all geared to that end, and each is somewhat complex with various complications. Adequate time needs to be taken by decision makers to address all of the bumps associated with each of the projects and it would be irresponsible to push ahead without adequate information and reasoned decision making. Hard information might even change what is done. But like on any challenging hike or bike trip, as I rediscovered on the Carbon Trail this weekend, it is important to take a breath, assess the situation, determine the most appropriate road under the circumstances and continue in the right direction even when a steep, rocky hill presents itself along the path to accomplishment.

On the “all is right with the local world” category…

I continue to be amazed by the activity at the Big Mine Skatepark. I am awed by the diversity in ages and types of wheels seen out the window of my office. I love it and that expenditure by the town was money well spent for the community. Bringing community together is a good way to avoid potential future disasters, especially given that a theme at the park is mental health awareness.

I had a couple “Heaven Forbid” mentions brought up to me this week after last week’s editorial about my quick trip to Vail. The first was a photo of kids in CB South preparing for Halloween by practicing their trick-or-treating. That wouldn’t happen in Vail. The other was a comment by a fellow bike rider during a Saturday evening Townie Takeover as we circled the Third and Elk intersection after pedaling through the Talk of the Town. He noted that he couldn’t imagine that ever happening in Vail. Fair.

The Snodgrass trail from Washington Gulch Road closed Monday evening. That point is basically located on private property and the Allen Ranch family generously allows recreationists like hikers and bikers to use that portion of the trail to access the rest of the trail located on Forest Service property for much of the summer. As lovingly described by Eric Larsen in a letter to the community last week, Snodgrass is a true Crested Butte gem. A wonderful connection to nature, that trail is accessible to so many and every time I ride it is a treat. So, appreciation goes out to the Allens and it is now up to the community in general to understand where the trail lies on public lands and where it crosses private property. There appears a new, collaborative effort to make that distinction clear for this fall and hopefully that will ease any potential conflict between the cattle and the bikers that could spell disaster.

As the sun brings its autumn slant and the overnight temperatures drop, it signals Vinotok is nigh. One of the best elements of the fall festival is the altars that get set up in and around Crested Butte. They will be constructed in the next weeks and up by September 17. They are pretty wonderful and worth the tour, so take the time to visit a few of these local treasures. 

Spending even just a little time at a Vinotok altar, on Snodgrass, playing in the mud, or at the skatepark is better than slurping down some foie gras during a restaurant emergency while hyperventilating about trailers parked on a road…

—Mark Reaman

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