Profile: Anna-Marie Davidson

By Dawne Belloise

Anna-Marie Davidson tells that she didn’t discover the joys of the great outdoors until after her college years, when the lure of nature moved her to mountains and forests. She grew up in Novi, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit, but she didn’t connect with her town because, “It was materialistic. It was all about the stuff you had, the car you drove and how much money you made.” Her mom worked long hours just to afford life, so Anna-Marie was also raised by her grandparents. “My grandfather would take me to the parks to feed the ducks but there’s not a ton of places to go explore the outdoors other than the public parks.”

Anna-Marie didn’t love high school and recalls that she just wanted to get it over with and get out, finally graduating in 2009. Thinking she wanted to become a doctor, she enrolled in pre-med at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, and graduated in 2012 with a degree in biomedical sciences and minors in both chemistry and fine arts. “I wanted to be a neurologist, that was my original goal,” she says.

The summer before graduation, she moved to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (U.P.), well-known for its wilderness and deep winters. That, she says emphatically, “changed my whole life,” and her path. Working on an organic farm, Anna-Marie learned to plant veggies and fruits, and how to harvest. She was packaging for CSAs (community supported agriculture) while shadowing a neurologist at the local hospital. “He told me that if he could do it all over again, he wouldn’t choose that profession and he’d choose to spend more time with his family in the outdoors. He also said that his most interesting cases were the saddest. It made me think I didn’t want to do that every day for the rest of my life and that’s when I decided I wasn’t going to med school anymore.” Working on the farm, Anna-Marie realized she wanted to do something more with her life. “I needed to do something for people in a more preventative way, like before they had to go to the hospital. I wanted to help people.”

 So in January of 2013, after she had graduated, Anna-Marie moved back up to Houghton in the U.P. for seven years, “Because I loved it so much.”  She became a snowboard instructor and, like her mom did when Anna was growing up, also worked in restaurants. Eventually, she was hired as a lab technician at NECI Superior Enzymes, a biotech lab, creating enzymes for sustainable analytical chemistry. 

Anna-Marie says that another motivator for moving back to the U.P. was that she had met a guy, her now-hubby Will Ashbaugh. “He was my best friend’s roommate and I moved in with him for that first summer.” Will was also working on the farm and helped Anna-Marie get her life changing job. The couple married in 2019 in Copper Harbor, Michigan.

Anna-Marie’s friend Matt Verona lived in Crested Butte, and she had visited him. In 2015, she was convinced she wanted to move to the Butte after drinks at Montanya’s, dinner at the Sunflower and then a glorious powder day. She and Will packed up their van in late October of 2016, and started driving west from the U.P. Their intention was to visit other places they might consider moving to and they wanted to discover the West.

“We both have our number one passion in life and that’s snowboarding and skiing. Will is the skier.” They found their way to Bend, Oregon, but she really wanted to teach snowboarding in a mountain town and when CBMR offered her that opportunity, she took it. After some difficulty finding a place to live, Anna-Marie found a roommate. Will stayed in Bend with his job and after spending six months apart, Anna-Marie returned to Bend after the lifts came to a halt and the CB ski season ended. She renovated her van into a mini home, and she and Will drove back to Crested Butte, living in their home on wheels for the summer. 

That summer Anna-Marie became a mountain bike coach on the mountain, “which was a really fun job,” she says. She and her friend McKinley decided to start Good Life Girls in the spring of 2018, an outdoor adventure camp for girls aged 7 to 14. “Our focus was to teach confidence, kindness and respect using outdoor adventure as the vehicle.” They endured through COVID, but after three years, Anna-Marie decided it was time to move on and do something else as it wasn’t her true passion. In the winters she continued to teach snowboarding and worked at restaurants. She became the front of house bar manager at Montanya’s, where she stayed for three years, eventually becoming a manager. 

Anna-Marie had volunteered with the Crested Butte Heritage Museum since the autumn of 2019 where she helped with web design and marketing and was then offered a full-time position in events and marketing coordination in December of 2021. “It was an extremely fulfilling job,” she feels, and even though she says it seems opposite of her science background and original career path, she got to know the local history and met a lot of the community members during her time there. “These people who’ve shaped the trajectory of CB, I heard so many amazing stories from people and it was really fun. The old timers’ stories live on through the stories I heard from people.” Recently, Anna-Marie accepted a position as office administrator with LIV Sotheby’s. “I’ll still be involved with the museum on the events and marketing committee,” she assures.

Anna-Marie took drum lessons when she was a kid and she brought her drums to the U.P. when she lived there. “I wanted to keep drumming but didn’t want to schlep my whole kit across the country, so I sold it and took hand drum lessons from a teacher in Houghton. I learned on a Djembe but now I play congas, bongos, tambourine, chimes and anything that’s not included in a drum kit.”  

When a friend told her that Vinotok needed more drummers, she joined the ensemble of street drummers for the 2018 Vinotok celebration. Her friend was also a drummer for the local band Alternative People, and Anna-Marie began sitting in with them. She later joined the jam band and plays hand percussion with them now. “We have our first EP published on most streaming platforms and we’re recording five more songs this spring so we’ve been in song writing mode all winter, with a studio date this May.”

Anna-Marie seems to have found her place here in Crested Butte, “I really love the community and I have made really good friends here. And every day, the band is approaching a new level of creating music together and it makes me feel really alive.” 

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