The snowfield near the top of Pearl Pass was steep and sketchy when I crossed it a week ago. A slip would have meant plummeting into a boulder field.
That would have ruined the magical weekend I had just spent with hundreds of old friends who gathered in Crested Butte to celebrate a 40-year town reunion. I made extra sure to punch in steps while dragging my mountain bike across the snow to the boulder-strewn pass, my high road home to the Roaring Fork.
Riding and pushing the gnarliest jeep road I know gave me time to ponder how the Shangri-la dreamscape of Crested Butte enriched my life. Reaffirmed was how critical “place” is to “being.”
My first time living in Crested Butte was in the spring of 1970. The population was about 350. The streets were dirt, coal smoke hung in the air, and Serbo-Croatian was spoken in the bars, shops and restaurants by the relic coal miners. At night, polka music mixed with the yips and howls of coyotes in the high mountain air at 9,000 feet.
Crested Butte was like a museum diorama depicting an otherworldly mountain refuge in the Elk Range where snow banks reached up to the eaves of quaint Hobbit houses through May, and where a nude co-ed bathhouse provided intimacy with my closest friends.
Sunshine’s Paradise Bathhouse is long gone, but to those who frequented its dim, steamy confines wearing nothing but our birthday suits, the mammaries stand out. (I mean, the memories!)
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