Let’s be real for a minute – no one wants to deal with your dog’s crap. Ironically, many of us retreat out these drainages to get away from some crap, or get some perspective on some crap, or to process some crap. We certainly aren’t interested in someone or something else’s crap. To see, to smell, to step in, to ride through dog crap while traveling our public lands is just, well, yeah. Crap.
The crisp morning held the odor of fall and a stiff wind funneled through the valley. But, the day was sunny and the skies were blue. About 80 people circled about outside the Crested Butte Visitors Center, mingling with smiles, ready for their volunteer day to get started. The Slate River Cleanup day was largely organized by HICCA but was supported by a couple dozen organizations throughout the valley, including Share the Slate. Volunteers were split up into about 12 different groups, each with its own crew leader, and each group tackled a different part of the Slate River valley. Each group was to work for about four hours cleaning up trash and removing excessive fire rings in their assigned area. Our group was small and consisted of just four of us, all from Share the Slate – Brittany Konsella, Frank Konsella, Adam Kagy, and Kristi Kagy. We were assigned the Paradise Divide area of the Slate River drainage. After a hard day of work, we all reconvened at the Musicians Camp which is a mile or so up the valley from the Oh-Be-Joyful turnoff. We were rewarded with BBQ goodies, beer, and a raffle. All in all, the Slate
It’s no secret that certain groups have been questioning multi-use access to the Slate River for many years. Several years ago, an meeting with very little forewarning or fanfare was called to discuss the winter trailhead. While a certain person was trying to get this trailhead shut down to motorized travel, others were sticking up for open access. Present at the meeting were many, including Keith Bauer (current Nordic Center Director), Frank Konsella (current board member of Share the Slate), Marlene Crowley (Public Works Director), some county plow drivers, and several other backcountry users. Most people present did not want to see motorized access to the Slate River Drainage get shut down and were willing to make compromises to reduce user conflicts, property owner complaints, and trailhead crowding. However, as more and more people find themselves using the Slate River Drainage, some of these rules have been forgotten – or some never knew them in the first place. Below is a list of “rules” that were agreed upon during this meeting, and/or have been established as the norm. No parking in the turn around – At the end of the road and the start of the trailhead, there is a
We at Share the Slate believe that multiple user groups can coexist at winter trailheads. But, part of coexisting is making sure that we follow a certain etiquette. The pieces of etiquette are simple – Be Kind, Help Others, Be Aware, and Show Respect. We ask that winter backcountry users not only respect their peers and other user groups. But, it’s also imperative to respect closures and private property. The Allen Ranch recently posted a letter in the paper to the Crested Butte Community asking winter backcountry users to respect their private property boundaries: The map below illustrates the situation. The green area on the map is operated by the National Forest Service. The red line marked on the map highlights the areas of Washington Gulch Road that pass through private property. That means, you should not go off of the road for 1.3 miles past the trailhead (which is located just NW of the subdivision) at which time you will then pass on to Forest Service land. To see the map more clearly, click to enlarge. In order for winter access to remain open to all user groups, we must ensure that we are respecting private property. Thanks to
Every year, the Crested Butte Avalanche Center always hosts an Avalanche Awareness night. This is usually chock-full of various presentations that are related to snow safety. Being that it’s the beginning of the season, and the snowpack is touchy as it usually it, this is a great event for every backcountry user to attend. Whether you’re a beginner in the backcountry. or an expert, the CBAC Avalanche Awareness night has something for you. The event will be held at Mountaineer Square, at the base of the ski area, on Friday Dec. 4th. Doors open at 5:00, but the event starts at 6 pm. Tickets are $5 at the door and any proceeds go to CBAC. Have you done your beacon practice yet? While you’re at it, join the CBAC for the Beacon Brush-up 2.0 on Sat. Dec. 5th at the Crested Butte Community School Multi-purpose Room. Events start at 9 am and last until about 3 pm, where the venue then shifts to the Alpineer for a few more hours. Events include brand-specific beacon demo and training from Ortovox, BCA, Mammut, and Pieps, beacon practice, two rescue scenarios, digging competition, rescue sled competition, and more.
Below is a copy of a letter sent to the Nordic Center by Mike Nolan, owner of the Elk Mountain Lodge in Crested Butte. This letter was also published in the Crested Butte News on 11/19. Nolan’s letter makes it clear that the Nordic Center’s and Silent Tracks’ current intentions are not community-oriented. Additionally, this letter sent waves throughout the community, and more businesses and individuals plan on holding back their financial support of the Nordic Center until they become more mindful of the needs of the Crested Butte Community. Thank you to Mike Nolan and other businesses and individuals who striving to keep the Slate River Drainage open for multi-use access in winter! Dear Keith, Rick, and Silent Tracks, I am writing because I am concerned about the image you are creating for CBNC in our community and it is very painful to watch. I’m concerned because I love the Nordic community and the trails we are so lucky to have. After serving on the CBNC board myself, volunteering many hours, and donating as a business sponsor for a decade or more, I feel let down. I have been defending you for years to many user groups and have
The sky was blue bird. The sun cast its rays across the mountains and the snow smiled back – each grain like a diamond. I didn’t have the time or partners to break out the sled for a backcountry ski tour. But, the glorious day demanded some playtime. So, I gathered my things for a short cross-country ski. I went to my old favorite – Washington Gulch Road, a multi-use trail. On this mid-week day, I saw cross-country skiers, backcountry skiers, hybrid users, and snowmobile riders alike heading out. I parked at the trailhead and began getting ready. I tried to talk to the snowmobile users who were also there, but they seemed to turn away. They went on their way, and I went on mine. Mid-way through my ski, I heard the sound of a snowmobile approaching. I carefully stepped off to one side of the trail, knowing that the rider would not be able to see me until she was closer, despite the fact that I could hear her from far away. I smiled and waved, and the solo snowmobiler waved back. Just a few minutes later, I heard two more engines. Again, I stepped off to the