Telluride Magazine summer/fall 2018

Page 1


4.95 | priceless in Telluride



192 Top of the World Specie Mesa 5 Bed • 4.5 bath • Tranquil Living $2,960,000

133 Victoria Drive Mountain Village 7 Bed • 11,359 s.f. • Ski-Out Access • Private $7,595,000

307 Basque Boulevard Aldasoro Ranch 4 Bed • 5 Bath • Commanding Views $2,995,000

Belvedere Park Unit 9 Mountain Village 4 Bed • 4.5 Bath • MV Core Location $2,195,000

301 North Oak Street Town of Telluride 4 Bed • 5 Bath • 4,216 s.f. on 2 Corner Lots $5,675,000

Lot 73 Josefa Lane Aldasoro Ranch 4.29 Acres • Wilson and Ski AreaViews $565,000

Steve Cieciuch (Chet-chu) Director | 970.369.5322, Direct | 970.708.2338, Cell 237 South Oak Street @ the Telluride Gondola | Telluride, Colorado 81435 I

316 East Galena Avenue Town of Telluride 3 Bed • 2 bath • Cozy with Big Views $1,995,000

Stoner Ranch Dolores River Valley 321 Acres • Water Rights • River Frontage $10,300,000

537 W Galena Ave Town of Telluride 4 Bed • 4.5 Bath • Guest House $3,500,000

128 Singletree Ridge Mountain Village 5 Bed • 6.5 Bath • 270º Views $3,695,000

438 Benchmark Drive Mountain Village 7 Bed • 9 Bath • Guest House • Slopeside $7,450,000

Lot 1A San Juan Ranch Horsefly Mesa 133.5 Acres • Unbeatable Views $480,000

Find virtual tours and more details about these properties, plus search all Telluride area real estate at

When You Are Here, You Are Happy.




-199 PENNINGTON PLACE - Mountain Village An extraordinary six bedroom home with over 7,700 sq. ft. of living space, situated at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac and possessing huge views and sun. $4,700,000

-2GRANITA 102 B - Mountain Village Excellent commercial office location in the Village Core. Lots of windows and light. Conference rooms, private offices & open area work spaces along with parking and storage. $790,000

-3LOT 136 - Aldasoro Ranch Unique southwest orientation with compelling views of Wilson Peak and surrounding mountains. A completely private location, adjacent to privately held large acreage parcels. $595,000

-4MOUNTAIN SIDE INN - Town of Telluride Two hotel style rooms along the river & steps away from skiing at Lift 7. Great for short term owner usage and rental with excellent rental revenue history. Unit 202: $175,000 / Unit 203: $183,000

Damon Demas Seasoned Broker | 970.369.5324, Direct I 970.708.2148, Cell 237 South Oak Street @ the Telluride Gondola | Telluride, Colorado 81435 I



Bob Starodoj

Broker Associate 970.379.3346 |

Aspen, CO •

Find Your Happy Place in Telluride

Ski out your front door onto the slopes, enjoy a mountain sunset from your fireside patio, spend quality time with family away from the frenzy of your everyday life. Our website is a great place to start searching for your happy place in Telluride. When you are ready, our local real estate professionals are standing by to answer all the questions your computer can’t.

COME SEE US IN PERSON! Across from the gondola in Telluride. 970.728.0808 I 237 South Oak Street


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Historic Mountain dairy rancH, our ay

207 East GrEGory avEnuE, tElluridE

Once-in-a-lifetime offering comes to the market for the first time in 60 years. The property includes more than 400 acres of pristine pasture and forest nearly completely surrounded by federal land with stunning views of the Ouray Valley. Structures include a rustic cabin and a large majestic milk barn. A perfect retreat for the outdoor enthusiast, hunter, or individual seeking the utmost in privacy, the property includes two mining claims and water rights.

Two spectacular parcels totaling 5,000 sf, this property has commanding views of Bear Creek, the ski area, and Telluride. Two homes may be built, or the lot line may be vacated allowing for the construction of a single home. Water and sewer are currently provided to a small cabin on the property, so there is no water/sewer tap fee for the first 2,500 square feet built. Located just steps to Colorado Avenue, this property is convenient to all that Telluride has to offer.



l ot 109r , M ountain v ill aGE

102 G r anitE r idGE , t ElluridE

c ortina s ubdivision , M ntn v lG

As one of the last remaining development parcels in Mountain Village, the 0.825 acre site is approved for significant mixed use density including 260,000 sf of development. The property is located just steps from the Mountain Village commercial core and amenities, as well as those in the Town of Telluride, just a 15 minute free gondola ride away. Views from the property include the San Sophia Ridge, Wilsons and western sunsets.

One of Mountain Village’s most breathtaking view lots. This ridgeline estate, just above Mountain Village’s ‘’Core” is going to be one of the premier projects in Mountain Village, according to architect Luke Trujillo. Enjoy lots of sun, dramatic sunsets, borders national forest and has 360 degree views of the region’s most stunning and iconic peaks of the San Sophias, Wilson, Palmyra and the Telluride Ski Area. Ski access. Preliminary architectural plans are available.

Six unparalleled trailside lots offering unrivaled amenities in a private setting with majestic views and ski access. Owners may opt-in to subdivision amenities including year-round pool and outdoor spa, owner’s lounge and patio with outdoor fireplace, spa treatment rooms, workout facilities, steam room, concierge, ski valet, and private car service. All lots are either directly trailside or have easy ski access. A developer’s dream, bulk purchase pricing is available.






L egacy H omes The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.

Luke TrujiLLo

aia 970-708-1445

Whit RichardsonŠ






250 S. FIR






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sa nd ar T r Selle r s To T h e i

t ge 3 Beds / 3.5 Baths / 2,585 s.f. 8 Beds / 7+ Baths / 7,881 s.f. 5 Beds / 5.5 Baths / 4,946 s.f.




SHIMKONIS PARTNERS Personal Touch, Expertly Crafted Mike Shimkonis, Director I 970.708.2157 I I Asa Van Gelder, Broker & Certified Appraiser I 970.708.1220 I I

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-1123 SAN JOAQUIN ROAD Mountain Village

-2SEE FOREVER CABIN 107 Mountain Village

-3LOT P3 Idarado

Enjoy great ski access and convenience to the gondola from this 5-bedroom residence with fantastic views and a private setting next to open space. Includes 2 master suites, 5 fireplaces, 3 steam showers, wine room, hot tub, 3 car garage, air conditioning, & humidification.

Newly remodeled! This light and bright 3-bedroom stand-alone cabin takes in mountain and sunset views with convenient access to the gondola and skiing. Includes the amenities of the Peaks Hotel: ski valet, spa & pools, plus workout facilities. Excellent rental potential.

With almost 200 ft of river frontage, this 1.22-acre lot is a very rare find. Just minutes from town, a more peaceful and convenient setting can not be found. Enjoy sweeping views of the Telluride Valley with a wonderful mix of aspen and spruce trees that afford great privacy.

$4,300,000 furnished

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Eric Saunders Broker Associate | 970.369.5326, Direct | 970.708.2447, Cell 237 South Oak Street @ the Telluride Gondola |

16 • SUMMER/FALL 2018




The who, what, where, and when in Telluride this season

28 LOCAL FLAVOR Elixirs on tap


Bystanders save a life with AED


Athletic advice from our mountain guru


Express yourself



Trigger Warning

Why school lockdown drills are not enough By Amy Irvine


Front of the Pack

Athletic phenom Soleil Gaylord is off and running By Martinique Davis


Rural Tragedy

Double homicide near Norwood chills community By Katie Klingsporn


Teeing Off

New learning terrain for golf and skiing By Jason Blevins


Islands of Lands

Navigating the private and public places in the Southwest By Craig Childs


Retelling the Battle of Aspen

New film traces Hunter S. Thompson’s bid for county sheriff By D. Dion

52 ENVIRONMENT Clearing the air

54 TELLURIDE FACES Meet Mary Beth Mueller, Ethan Hale, and Rhonda Muckerman


Strangers in their own land


“Stuck in Yemen,” by Dave Eggers


Another round, indomitable spirit, team Telluride, three days, one short script and Neil Young


Coworking takes off in Telluride and Durango


Rainforest of the Rockies

92 COLOR BY NUMBERS An index of facts and figures


Into the Offing, by Ryan Bonneau


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18 • SUMMER/FALL 2018



Telluride Magazine is produced by Telluride Publishing LLC, a locally owned and operated company. PUBLISHER TELLURIDE PUBLISHING LLC ~~~


DAVE EGGERS Dave Eggers is the author of eleven books, including: The Circle; Heroes of the Frontier; A Hologram for the King, a finalist for the National Book Award; and What Is the What, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and winner of France’s Prix Médicis Etranger and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. His nonfiction and journalism has appeared in the Guardian, the New Yorker, the Best American Travel Writing and the Best American Essays. He is the founder of McSweeney’s, the cofounder of 826 National, and of ScholarMatch. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and his work has been translated into forty-two languages.

MELISSA PLANTZ Melissa Plantz has been taking photos in Telluride since 1995. When she is not shooting a wedding she is usually taking photos of her friends dressed in drag on a river trip or her sons sending a climbing route in the desert. She prefers to photograph people, but she has a knack for catching the light just right on the Valley Floor. Her work has appeared in Climbing, Telluride Daily Planet, the Mountainfilm 40th Anniversary book, and






CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Jason Blevins, Suzanne Cheavens, Craig Childs, Martinique Davis, Dave Eggers, Elizabeth Guest, Amy Irvine, Karen James, Julia Johnston, Katie Klingsporn, Amy Peters, Paul O’Rourke, Elizabeth Shoff, Lance Waring ~~~

CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Ryan Bonneau, Brenda Colwell, Gus Gusciora, Melissa Plantz ~~~

WWW.TELLURIDEMAGAZINE.COM Telluride Publishing produces the San Juan Skyway Visitor Guide and Telluride Magazine. Current and past issues are available on our website.. © 2018 Telluride Publishing For editorial inquiries call 970.708.0060 or email For advertising information call 970.729.0913 or email The annual subscription rate is $14.95. Cover and contents are fully protected and must not be reproduced in any manner without written permission from the publisher.

KATIE KLINGSPORN Katie Klingsporn is a freelance writer and radio reporter who lives on Wright’s Mesa with her husband, dog, and chickens. She has contributed to 5280, Edible Southwest Colorado, Adventure Journal and National Geographic Adventure’s Cleanest Line blog. She enjoys growing food, desert excursions, and foraging for mushrooms in the high San Juans. You can read more of her writing at


ON THE COVER The San Juan Mountains typically get a good dose of moisture during monsoon season. Photo by Melissa Plantz, illustration by Kristal Rhodes and Fred Birchman.



Photos by David O. Marlow









Exploring the world with new eyes


get asked this all the time, but we really never choose a theme for the magazine. Usually if there is a central idea that comes to the forefront, it is a completely organic thing. In this issue a theme did emerge—many of the stories are about children and the way that they perceive the world. Even if we don’t have children or we’re not raising little people, we were all children at some point. We understand their inherent openness and innocence. Children see things in a very different way than adults do, without the burden of experience and the filters of time. Everything is new. Everything is possible. Everything still has that exciting shimmer because it is undiscovered, unexplored. And despite the fact that children are so vulnerable, they still feel invincible and powerful.


A lot of the topics in this edition revolve around young people. There’s a story about Soleil Gaylord, the phenomenal runner who graduated high school this spring and is already a world-class athlete. “I just love to run,” says Gaylord earnestly (“Front of the Pack,” p. 36). There is another piece that talks about the new $3 million training terrain that the ski resort has built to foster new skiers, snowboarders, and golfers, some of whom could end up being the next Olympic athletes like Gus Kenworthy, Keaton McCargo, or Hagen Kearney (“Team Telluride,” p. 76). Children have a natural ability to learn—especially when it comes to the language of music. All three of the local people profiled in this issue are music teachers as well as musicians. They make a living by

sharing their love of the discipline with young students (Telluride Faces, p. 54). We also have a story about the Many Hands Fiber Arts Festival, which is offering classes to kids in which they create a self portrait from textiles, a unique medium for expressing how they feel about themselves (Inside Art, p. 48). Also in these pages is a heartfelt essay by local writer Amy Irvine (“Trigger Warning,” p. 34) about the way students are struggling to make their voices heard about school shootings, and how we need to find common ground in the national debate about guns. And we have a heartbreaking story about how two young girls lost their lives last summer and the way that it has shaken this community (“Rural Tragedy,” p. 40).

There’s lots more to read—don’t miss the piece by Dave Eggers, from his 2018 bestseller The Monk of Mokha, and we also fill you in on The Buck remodel (“Another Round,” p. 70), the locally made Paradox film directed by Daryl Hannah and starring Neil Young (“Three Days,” p. 74), and give you a preview of the upcoming Hunter S. Thompson biopic being filmed this summer in Silverton, Colorado. We hope you like this issue, and that you take your cues from the young people in the world: Honor your inner child. Look at things with wonder. Be open. Believe that anything is possible. And learn, discover, and try everything you can. Enjoy the season, Deb Dion Kees Editor, Telluride Magazine

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Search all regional properties: SUMMER/FALL 2018


22 • EVENT CALENDAR Summer/Fall 2018

CALENDAR of EVENTS The festival celebrates the outdoors, featuring films about adventure and ecology, symposiums, and lectures.


The Palm Theatre hosts the Invisible Bird Jazz Trio as a part of the Telluride Summer Jazz Series. The trio consists of Scott Amendola, Dave Devine, and Shane Endsley, who will perform and also offer a master class at 1 p.m. on June 16.


Mountain Village kicks off bluegrass weekend with a free outdoor concert on the Sunset Stage at 5 p.m.


The museum premieres its new exhibit, “Children of Winter Never Grow Old: Snow Sports in the San Juans,” celebrating the timeless passion for winter athletics. The opening is free, from 5:30–7:30 p.m.

This year marks the 45th annual festival, one of the country’s most renowned bluegrass music events, held during the weekend of the summer solstice. This year’s lineup includes Sturgill Simpson, Leftover Salmon, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Greensky Bluegrass, Punch Brothers, and more.



PALM KIDZ Summer Series kicks off with the circus juggling, magic, and comedy of Big Bubble Circus. Tickets are free and the shows start at 2:30 p.m. at the Bob Saunders Theatre.

The festival features four days of fine wines, seminars, tastings, winemakers’ luncheons, and cooking demonstrations.


Landscape artists from across the country come to paint the region’s vistas; plein air painting is done outdoors, and the art is exhibited and sold to benefit the event’s host, the Sheridan Arts Foundation. The “Quick Draw” competition is July 3.

Watch hot air balloons soar above the San Miguel Valley or stroll past them, tethered and aglow on main street during the early evening. Balloons launch at sunrise, weather permitting.


Sheridan Arts Foundation hosts its 26th annual Wild West Fest, bringing underserved youth from Boys and Girls Clubs around the country to experience a week of horizon broadening activities.


The Good Bad is a high-energy newgrass/bluegrass string band, and they perform with the folk/bluegrass duo Late for the Train at the Sheridan Opera House.


Telluride’s local theater company hosts a unique take on the Family Feud game show at the Black Box theatre at the Palm .


A weekend festival celebrating fitness, wellness, and health with presentations and events.


Telluride Academy kicks off its summer season with its first session of camps. Check out their full schedule online.




ONGOING EVENTS AH HAA SCHOOL FOR THE ARTS The Ah Haa School offers some open classes in addition to its year-round curriculum for adults and youth, workshops, art trips and retreats, lectures, exhibitions, camps, and special events. Join Robert Weatherford for “Painting from Within” on Monday from 9:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. June 18 through August 27. For specific information or to register, see the full schedule of offerings online.



BOOZE AND BOOKS Book discussions are held over libations at 5:15 p.m. the second Thursday of every month at the bar/bistro at Telluride Hotel.


Mountain Village kicks off the Fourth of July celebrations with live music and events in the afternoon on the Heritage and Sunset plazas.


FITNESS CLASSES AT THE LIBRARY Wilkinson Public Library hosts a variety of free fitness classes, including yoga. Check out the schedule at


MARKET ON THE PLAZA Mountain Village hosts a farm and craft market with food, art, and jewelry produced in Colorado. The market is held at the Heritage Plaza June 20 through August 22, each Wednesday from 11 a.m.–4 p.m.

The Rundola is an annual foot race from the base of the gondola in Telluride to the top of the ridge adjacent to the gondola mid-station. The race starts at 8 a.m. and is organized by the Telluride Foundation. Telluride’s Independence Day features a parade, a community barbecue, games and activities for families in Town Park, and a grand fireworks display after dark.


The Palm Theatre hosts the Annie Booth Trio as a part of the Telluride Summer Jazz Series. Annie Booth is a Denver-based pianist and composer, and she is joined by form Telluride Jazz Festival All Stars Patrick McDevitt and Alejandro Castaño.

MUSIC IN THE CORE The town of Mountain Village hosts free, live music outside by local artists and bands from 3–5 p.m. on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday afternoons at Heritage Plaza from June 3 through September 18.



MUSIC ON THE GREEN Catch free, live music concerts from 5–7 p.m. on Friday evenings outdoors at Mountain Village’s Reflection Plaza: June 15 Jeff Plankenhorn, June 22 Sara Slaton-Edison, June 29 Brent Cowles, July 6 Beat Root Revival, July 20 Freddy & Francine, August 3 Kevin McCarthy Trio, August 10 J.S. Ondara, August 17 Lo Moon, August 24 Kevin McCarthy Trio, August 31 You Knew Me When, September 7 Kolars.

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24 • EVENT CALENDAR Summer/Fall 2018

This ensemble from New Orleans plays original funk music and performs at the Sheridan Opera House.


A fundraiser for Telluride Theatre, the gala is a secret party at a secret location with dinner, drinks, an auction, immersive art, and a performance with live music. Transportation to and from the event is provided.


The reggae band formed by the original members of Bob Marley & The Wailers performs at the Sheridan Opera House.


The Ride Festival kicks off with a free concert in Mountain Village at the Sunset Plaza.


KOTO Community Radio hosts a two-day music concert in Town Park, featuring String Cheese Incident, Sheryl Crow, Grace Potter, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, and more.


Celebrate the traditional genre of Americana and folk music with memorable performances at the Sheridan Opera House. Barbed Wire Productions is a co-organizer of the festival.


Yoga instructors from all over the world convene in Telluride to offer workshops in all types of yoga, meditation, and other events.


The tradition of Shakespeare in the Park continues as Telluride Theatre performs Shakespeare’s Pericles. Performances are held on the Town Park Stage nightly at 8 p.m.


The Palm Arts Dance program hosts a ballet company in residency, the BalletCollective, a critically acclaimed troupe led by artistic director Troy Schumacher and comprised of many talented New York City ballet dancers. The BalletCollective’s residency will offer a public performance on July 28 at 7 the Palm Theatre.

PUNK SCIENCE The Pinhead Institute stages fun, interactive science experiments (atomic reactions, chemistry, physics, and more) for kids with PhD scientists on Tuesday evenings from 5:15–6 p.m. at Wilkinson Public Library for free from June 26 through July 31. Pinhead also hosts Mad Labs, Lego Robotics, Minecraft, Nature Rangers and other fun summer camps for kids—check out their full schedule online.


Sheridan Arts Foundation’s Young People’s Theater puts on its summer performance of Alice in Wonderland.


THE POLISH AMBASSADOR David Sugalski, AKA The Polish Ambassador, plays electronic funk at the Sheridan Opera House.

RELIVING HISTORY Telluride Historical Museum hosts several programs periodically throughout the summer and fall, including Historic Walking Tours every Thursday afternoon at 1 p.m. (June 1 through August 31), Hike Into History Tours on Saturdays (June 30, July 28, and August 18), Free Family Night (July 30), Historical Pub Crawls (June 14 & Sept. 5), Lone Tree Cemetery Tours (Fridays in September and October) and and a series of Fireside Chats in Norwood and Mountain Village on Wednesday and Thursday evenings in September and October.


Enjoy the lively sounds of the four-piece multi-instrumental and vocal ensemble DeVotchKa as they perform at the Sheridan Opera House.





Take a tour of the art installations, architectural demonstrations, and samples of design work and culinary arts at the Art + Architecture Festival. Participants vote for their favorites at the closing party.

MOVIES UNDER THE STARS Mountain Village screens free, family-friendly outdoor movies on various Thursdays and Saturdays at 8:45 p.m. on Reflection Plaza: June 23 Paddington 2, June 28 The Muppets, June 30 Annie, July 5 Sing, July 7 Jumanji, July 12 Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory, July 14 Sherlock Gnomes, July 19 Coco, July 21 Wonder, July 26 Where the Wild Things Are, August 2 Peter Rabbit, August 4 Wizard of Oz, August 9 Back to the Future, August 11 A Wrinkle in Time, August 16 Field of Dreams, August 18 Grease.

This madcap annual fundraiser for the local arts school features a live auction with entertainment and a silent auction for all types of artwork and prizes. This year’s theme is “Sweet Home Ah Haa.”

TELLURIDE 100 This epic 100-mile mountain bike race starts and finishes in Telluride and participants gain approximately 18,000 feet in elevation on the grueling course. Riders must purchase a Colorado Search & Rescue card to race.

The Hardrock Hundred is a grueling 100.5-mile ultramarathon through the San Juan Mountains, starting and finishing in Silverton, Colorado.




Sponsor a yellow rubber duck, and if it floats down the San Miguel River fast enough, you can win a variety of prizes including a 2017-18 ski pass. The event is a benefit for KOTO community radio.


From international jazz legends to up-and-coming brass ensembles, the annual festival hosts the best of the genre at Town Park during the day and at the local venues in the evening. This year’s lineup features Bruce Hornsby and the Noisemakers, Irma Thomas (Soul Queen of New Orleans), Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Turkuaz, and more.






STORY TIME AND KIDS ACTIVITIES The Wilkinson Public Library hosts Story Time for children at 11 a.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays. “Paws for Reading” at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesdays lets children gain confidence by reading to a therapy dog. There are performances for kids at the Telluride Farmers Market at 11 a.m. on Fridays June 15 through August 17 by musicians, magicians and storytellers. The Kids Cook program is at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesdays and Teen Cook is at 4 p.m. on Saturdays, where kids learn to make healthy snacks with ingredients provided. I Heart Art is at 3:30 p.m. on Mondays, with special art projects. Cyber Clubhouse helps kids and teens learn to code at 2:15 p.m. on Tuesdays.

26 • EVENT CALENDAR Summer/Fall 2018









The ABBA tribute band from Phoenix performs 70s disco at the Sheridan Opera House. Telluride’s best culinary artists compete for the coveted title in this annual fundraiser for One to One Mentoring, held at the Peaks Resort. Symposiums, classes, forays, and a parade all celebrate fungi in this fun weekend event.

Cyclists race from Telluride to Gateway Canyons Resort (or past the resort into the Unaweep Canyon for longer distance) in this annual fundraiser for the Just for Kids Foundation, which supports youth in the San Miguel watershed region. An annual celebration for automobile enthusiasts with the mountain foliage as a backdrop.

The modern dance company Zikr Dance performs at the Palm Theatre in Telluride.


The Palm Theatre hosts the Adam Bodine Trio as a part of the Telluride Summer Jazz Series.

A fun fundraiser for San Miguel Resource Center, in conjunction with Ah Haa School for the Arts, where artists decorate brassieres in outlandish style and male models hit the runway and auction them off.




This is the annual fundraiser for the Telluride Historical Museum, hosted at the Sheridan Opera House.


Legendary singer, songwriter, and activist Judy Collins performs at the Sheridan Opera House.


Watch a screening of episode 6 from the Ken Burns documentary Vietnam followed by a Q&A with the director, hosted by the Telluride Historical Museum.


Telluride hosts an internationally acclaimed film festival with world premieres, movie stars, filmmakers, directors, and a free outdoor cinema. The lineup is always kept secret until the day before the festival, but a large number of TFF premieres have gone on to win “Best Picture” Academy Awards.


Runners start in Ouray and cross over 13,114-foot Imogene Pass, a 17.1-mile course with more than 5,000 feet of elevation gain, finishing in Telluride.


Celebrate autumn with a block party on Telluride’s main street with live music and beverage booths.



Classical music concerts are held outdoors and in various venues around town. There is a free concert in Town Park to kick off the week’s events, and the closing concert is held at the Palm Theatre.

SUNSET CONCERT SERIES The Town of Mountain Village hosts free outdoor concerts every Wednesday evening from June 27 through August 15.

The newest film festival in Telluride, Telluride Horror Show screens independent horror, fantasy, and sci-fi movies and hosts special programs, a pig roast, and industry guests.


TECH TIME & LEGAL HELP Don’t throw your tech devices out the window; come in for help and a free consult with Andy at Tech Time at the Wilkinson Public Library from noon until 2 p.m. every Saturday. The library also hosts free legal consults for people who need help from an attorney on the second Tuesday of every month—sign up for a time slot in advance at (970)728-4519.

The Jarabe Mexicano ensemble, which performs Latin music in Spanish and English on traditional mariachi instruments accompanied by percussion, takes the stage at the Palm Theatre.


KOTO hosts a costume party for Halloween.


TELLURIDE ARTS On the first Thursday of each month, the Telluride Art Walk celebrates art at the local galleries from 5–8 p.m., with a self-guided tour of the exhibits in downtown Telluride. A dozen venues open their doors to showcase new exhibits and artists, and restaurants feature art walk specials. Maps are available from local businesses and Telluride Arts.

The Telluride Historical Museum hosts a spooky tour on Halloween through Telluride’s former hospital.


Sell your old gear or pick up some new gear at this annual fundraiser for KOTO community radio, held at the Wilkinson Public Library.


TELLURIDE FARMERS MARKET Telluride hosts one of the few all-organic, pesticide-free farmers markets in the state each Friday on South Oak Street from 10:30 a.m.–4 p.m. from June 1 through October 12.


The Telluride Blues & Brews Festival kicks off with a free concert in Mountain Village on the Sunset Plaza.

TELLURIDE FILM FESTIVAL PRESENTS On the third Thursday of each month at the Nugget Theatre, catch one of the recently released films selected by the festival directors of the Telluride Film Festival.


This popular fall music festival features craft beers from all over the country and a beer tasting, as well as big name music acts in Town Park and at late night “Juke Joints” performances in local venues. This year’s lineup features Robert Plant and the Shapeshifters, Ben Harper & Charlie Musselwhite, Gov’t Mule, and more.

Violinist Tessa Lark performs at the Bob Saunders Theatre at the Telluride Palm.



TSRC TOWN TALKS Telluride Science Research Center brings world-renowned scientists to speak on various topics and hold discussions on Tuesday evenings at 6 p.m. from June 12 through July 31 at the Telluride Conference Center. Admission is free, and there is a cash bar.

Art For Home and Self 171 S. Pine St. Telluride



Elixirs on Tap Kombucha craze hits Telluride By Elizabeth Guest


rom the brothels and bordellos of wild Western times to the beer booth at next weekend’s festival, Telluride’s always been a thirsty little town. If you’re holding out till five o’clock (or your definition of that time) for an adult beverage, kombucha is a healthy and flavorful drink substitute, and more and more often, it’s coming out of a keg. “The popularity of kombucha on tap is sort of expected and it’s selling great,” says Megan Ossola, co-owner of The Butcher & The Baker. “We’re going through a keg every couple of days, which is faster than we sell beer.” Fermentation is the key to kombucha’s probiotic benefits. The blend of tea, sugar, fruit juices, herbs, and more brews for seven to thirty days, but the resultant beverage sells quickly. In six months, The Butcher & The Baker runs through eighty kegs, rotating flavors along the way. Kombucha on tap reduces packaging and transport. Like beer, people also prefer kombucha pints from the keg over bottles and cans that can affect carbonation and flavor. The reviews have been as effervescent as the drink itself. Kombucha on tap claims a slightly sweet and fizzy flavor that is oddly addicting. Butcher serves up artisanal, craftbrewed kombucha from Denver-based clinical herbalist Manda Pendleton’s company “In Joy Integration.” Pendleton’s varieties of “cha,” as in kombucha, combine a thoughtful balance of taste and tonic. Each ingredient is handpicked to enhance flavor and target specific health concerns. Immu-Cha is a smoky-tasting, blush-colored concoction of raw and vegan ingredients that support immune health. In Joy Integration’s Chas have what Pendleton calls botanical assistance, basically a selection of herbs added to assist the body in various functions from stress relief to adrenal support. InDevotion Cha contains lemon balm and motherwort herbs, mild antidepressants meant to open the heart center. InVision Cha has herbs including ginkgo balboa to open the third eye and stimulate intellect. This recipe, built from the fermentation of black, tulsi, green, and rooibos teas, is enhanced with organic blueberry


“Fermentation is the key to kombucha’s probiotic benefits. The blend of tea, sugar, fruit juices, herbs, and more brews for seven to thirty days, but the resultant beverage sells quickly.” juice and especially pleasing to the palate. In Power Cha has rejuvenating ashwagandha and stimulating kola nut, that in combination with organic black tea, yerba mate, guayusa, and organic pineapple make a peppy beverage with energy-boosting effects. Ghost Town, a small, funky café on Colorado Avenue, is another watering hole for kombucha on tap. Ghost Town offers GT Kombucha, a popular brand from California. According to Ghost Town owner Elena Levin, the kegs of kombucha range from gingerberry, which can be found bottled at your local market, to less common flavors like pink lady basil. “We carry a little of both, some you see at the store and some not,” says Levin. “They usually surprise-flavor us.” Most of kombucha’s appeal comes from its flavoring. The drink may appear mysterious and foamy, but it’s quite a simple recipe, explains Joanna Grzeskowiak, owner of Telluride Juice Co. The clumps and floaters in your kombucha are scobies, a cluster of bacteria resulting from the fermen-

tation of tea, water, and sugar. The word scoby is an acronym meaning “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast.” Grzeskowiak brews an initial batch of kombucha in big, glass vats for three to four weeks to develop a living, thriving scoby. She then flavors her brews with fruits and herbs for three or four days, strains, force carbonates and serves, never in plastic, and always encourages re-useable glassware. Grzeskowiak’s Telluride Juice Co. opened in the fall of 2017, but after winter 2018 she’s still looking for an ideal space to both create and sell her creative and fresh menu of locally made juices, elixirs, and kombuchas on tap, all crafted from raw and unpasteurized ingredients. “Juicing is physical and demanding,” she says of the challenges of her line of business. However, the result is worth the effort. “It’s been really well received and a lot of days we sell out.” Two of her most popular kegs are kiwi/guava and pineapple/passionfruit. The Doc Holliday is another of her popular elixirs. The two-ounce serving consists of turmeric, ginger, lemon, raw honey, apple cider vinegar, and more. Keep a look out for more of Grzeskowiak’s liquid gold in a new space this summer along with the steady flow of kombucha coming from more and more taps around town. \

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“Baked” serves thousands daily. Be one of them on your first day in Telluride— you’ll be back every day of your visit—or your life. Pizza: Whole pies and by the slice. Breakfast burros, bagels, croissants. Deli sandwiches, salads, soups. Dinner featuring pastas made on premise, enchiladas and burros, and every Thursday Thanksgiving dinner. From the Chief Bagel: In 1970, with my Cornell degree, I set off on a radio career quest that led to the 1975 founding of KOTO Telluride Community Radio (91.7 FM). Telluride needed a bakery, so in 1976 I started Baked in Telluride, named to honor the sustainable concept of “buy local.” B-I-T matured into a renowned bakery and restaurant and a Telluride institution. After the devastating 2009 bakery fire, I created the beautiful building on S. Fir St. I use customer comment to improve our products and services every week.

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Bystanders Save a Life with AED What’s inside those red boxes around town and why it matters By Karen Toepfer James


ne dark and frigid Friday night this past January, Ophir resident Valerie Sloan was driving home along Telluride’s Colorado Avenue around 7 p.m. when she noticed a body laying in the Aspen Street drainage ditch near Second Chance Thrift Store. She pulled her car over and rushed to help, discovering an unconscious and unfamiliar man at the scene. His head was heavily bloodied after collapsing face first into the concrete only moments earlier while walking with his wife. Coincidentally, two of Sloan’s friends were already there in the midst of calling 911 when she arrived. Fortunately for the 70-year-old retired medical doctor visiting from western Massachusetts, Sloan had recently completed a cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) refresher course, and instinctively went into action. She checked his unresponsive body for a pulse and signs of breathing. Finding neither, she directed her friends to begin performing chest compressions. She immediately recalled the location of the nearest Automated External Defibrillator (AED) and ran to retrieve the lifesaving device from its red, glass-fronted box near Steamies Burger Bar, a short jog away. With two small children at home and a father whose heart condition worried her every time he visited, Sloan had made a point of keeping her CPR skills current and committing local AED locations to memory. But even if you don’t have their locations memorized, if you take a walk or drive through downtown Telluride, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll find an AED somewhere nearby. Just in the .9-mile stretch between Telluride High School and the Hanley Ice Rink in Town Park there are more than a dozen public access AEDs waiting to be used in an emergency. “The concentration of them in a community of our size is second to none,” said Emil Sante, the chief paramedic for the Telluride Fire Protection District (TFPD).


“Absolutely anybody can use an AED. You need no prior experience, and it actually walks you through and tells you exactly what to do.” Beginning in 2006, public access AEDs were strategically placed throughout the community thanks to the efforts of Dr. Mark Rosenthal, a cardiologist and part-time area resident. While Rosenthal facilitated the placement of the first devices with funding from the towns of Telluride and Mountain Village and the Telluride Foundation, today Sante runs the program on behalf of the TFPD. The District counts 38 public access AEDs throughout its territory reaching across Telluride, Mountain Village, Placerville, and Ophir. The lightweight, portable, battery-operated devices treat sudden cardiac arrest, a condition in which the heart abruptly stops beating due to a disturbance in the internal electrical system that signals it to pulse.

As a result, the flow of blood to the brain and other vital organs stops. With each minute that passes without treatment, the survival rates for a victim reduce by seven to ten percent. AEDs work by monitoring the person’s heart rhythm through electrodes placed on the chest. The sticky pads collect and deliver this information to a computer in the AED, which analyzes it for one of two types of abnormal rhythms that may be electrically shocked back to normal. “Absolutely anybody can use an AED,” said Dr. Diana Koelliker, TRMC’s medical director of emergency and trauma services and the Telluride EMS director. “You need no prior experience, and it actually walks you through and tells you exactly what to do.”

Recent research that looked at 50,000 observed, out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in the U.S. and Canada involving shockable rhythms found that patients shocked by a bystander fared significantly better than those who had to wait for the arrival of EMS personnel. Not only were they more likely to survive to hospital discharge, but they were almost twice as likely to be discharged with better outcomes like normal brain function. After Sloan returned with the AED, bystanders (which by then included Dr. Bill Hall, the TRMC’s new emergency physician, and former TFPD paramedic Jill Masters, who made news in 2010 when she used an AED to resuscitate a Canadian man in cardiac arrest while she was hiking on a popular trail outside Vancouver) were able to deliver shocks and continue with chest compressions until EMS arrived. “How this guy’s stars aligned is absolutely amazing,” said Sloan. “In these situations they say it takes three people: one to call 911, one to start compressions, and one to go get an AED, and that’s exactly how it happened.” Multiple shocks and chest compressions later, the man finally regained a pulse. After being stabilized and evaluated, he was flown to St. Mary’s Medical Center in Grand Junction, where he went on to recuperate thanks to our robust community AED program and the quick thinking actions of everyday people. “I used the tools that were given to me,” said Sloan. “All I want to happen now is for people to know these tools are meant for people to help others.” “The incident went as well as it possibly could have. It’s what community-based AED programs are supposed to be,” said Koelliker. “You can’t do anything wrong with an AED except not use one.” \ To see current AED locations search “AED Map” on the San Miguel County website at https://


As a Patient-Centered Medical Home, we combine teamwork, information and technology to improve patient outcomes. We believe in long-term, participative relationships. Our Care Teams are truly here for you — especially when you’re faced with health challenges.

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Ask Jock

Athletic Advice from Our Local Mountain Guru

Stream Sipping

Dear Jock, I just met a long-time local who took me out for a hike in the hills. We found a little stream running out of the rocks, and he dropped to his knees and drank what he called “live water” straight out of the brook. I’ve read there can be harmful microorganisms in untreated water. When I told him that, he just laughed and said he hasn’t had a problem in 40 years. I’m generally not a worrywart, but I don’t want to get sick. Who do I believe—the local or the literature? —Undecided


Dear Undecided, Place your trust in science, not old mountain men. The literature you read is factual: Infectious agents can live in untreated water. The most common microorganism found in high country streams is called Giardia. It comes from the feces of ungulates and smaller mammals that poop in or near the stream. Symptoms of Giardia include gastro-intestinal distress, vomiting, and general malaise. The cure is a usually a course of strong antibiotics. Your local friend may have reduced his chances of contracting Giardia by drinking cold running water close to the source. (Bacteria prefer warm, stagnant water, so the farther downstream the more likely the chance of contamination.) If you don’t want to risk a bout with Giardia, carry water purification tablets or a sterilization or filtration system. Each method has advantages and disadvantages, so talk to a knowledgeable salesperson at one of the local outdoor shops to determine what best suits your needs. Cheers, — Jock


Midnight Micturition

Baby on Board



Dear Jock, My new girlfriend insists I go camping with her this summer. I haven’t slept in a tent since I was a Cub Scout in fourth grade, and I’m not looking forward to it now. Call me a wuss, but my back gets sore when I sleep on a firm mattress and I don’t like the idea of sleeping on the cold, hard ground. And I especially don’t like the idea of getting up in the middle of the night and staggering outside to pee. This camping thing could be a deal breaker. How can I talk her into a fun weekend in Vegas with running water and room service? —The Anti-Camper Dear AC, I’m no relationship expert, but when your gal asks you to go camping and your reply is “How about a weekend in Vegas?” you might have communication problems. Assuming you can overcome those issues and you decide to follow her into the wild, it sounds like you’re most concerned about your bedroll and bladder. There’s good news on both counts: First, modern sleeping pads range from ultra-light for Spartan backpackers to thick and comfy, more like your mattress at home. Assuming you two lovebirds are car camping instead of backpacking, go down to your local gear store and purchase the fattest sleeping pad you can find. Telluride’s own Laid Back Pad ( is one of the most comfortable and easy-to-pack options. Regarding midnight micturition: Savvy campers have been carefully peeing in bottles since nomadic tribes roamed the plains of Pangea. Sleep tight, — Jock



Dear Jock, I have a 6-month-old, and I want to get out of the house together on days without childcare. I like to hike, bike, and run. What’s going to be my best bet with a kiddo in tow? —A New Parent Dear Newbie, Jock’s experience is that youngsters like to get outside as much as adults. But you can’t move very far or very fast carrying an infant in your arms. Exercise with a little one requires special equipment: You’ll need a special kid pack for hiking. Cortez-based Osprey Packs makes several excellent models as does the German outdoor company Deuter. You won’t be able to take your bambino trail running, but you can push a high-tech stroller on the pavement. There are a number of options. Jock’s family has one made by Kelty. It rolls well and is easy to deploy and fold up for storage. But there are many other options. You’ll want a bike trailer for cycling. Jock’s daughter rides in one made by Trek. But, again, there are many other options. Oh, and for winter, you’ll probably end up with a kid’s ski sled to pull your little one around on the Nordic ski trails. A company called Chariot offers an ingenious bike trailer/Nordic ski sled, double duty that saves on storage space. Whatever mode you choose, remember to bring extra clothes, snacks, and water. Slather on sunscreen, and change that diaper before you leave the house. And you may consider a clip-on mirror so you can see if Junior is sleeping while in transit. Have fun with your new partner in adventure, — Jock


34 • ESSAY

Trigger Warning Why School Lockdown Drills Aren’t Enough By Amy Irvine

I am a mother and a teacher, and I own guns. With them, I have hunted game for the dinner table, put a dying animal out of its suffering, and chambered a round when threatened by two predatory men.


I come from a long line of people who pioneered the West—ranchers, hunters, and Mormon henchmen. Which is to say, I grew up with guns. Lots of them. When I was a girl, while camping with my family in the Utah wilds, a man entered our friends’ nearby tent and held a knife to the mother’s throat while her husband and three children begged for her life. My father rose from his sleeping bag, took his pistol out from underneath his pillow, and stepped into the night wearing only his boots and Duofold long johns. He went to the other tent and escorted the guy out of it. For the rest of the night, he sat by a stoked-up fire keeping the man—who circled, yelling expletives and threats—at bay. Years later, when my father was out of a job, alcoholic, and mad at the world for not giving him what he thought he deserved, he shot himself through the heart. For this task, he chose to use my great-grandmother’s rifle, a gun she used daily to hunt on the homestead what she’d later cook for the evening meal. So guns are a part of my life. I have been glad for them, and I have been devastated by them—meaning my relationship to them is complicated. But after all of these mass shootings, one thing is clear: For our kids and teachers, this is not a political matter: It’s one of physical and psychological safety. After the Florida school shooting in February, I contacted my daughter’s school to

suggest that we help the kids get involved in the issue. The school was resistant but carved out time for students to hear the facts. Unfortunately, the discussion was announced at the last minute and took place after school when kids already have extra-curricular activities scheduled. One student told me the meeting failed to help them feel empowered to do anything about the problem. This was the response in Colorado, where a disproportionate number of the nation’s mass shootings have occurred, and in an elite ski town, where there’s enough wealth, influence, and imagination to change the world. Dodging this bullet (painful pun intended) is to tell kids not to think at all. To stage lockdown drills without providing opportunities for more direct action is to accept mass shootings as the new normal. To refuse to engage and empower the students for fear of controversy is to fail to teach them to engage in the civic process with intelligence and respect for other points of view. Why not, I wondered, see this as an opportunity to gain common ground? While the people of the West hold widely differing views about gun rights, we can all agree that kids should be safe at school so they can stay focused on the joy and necessity of learning—our best insurance against tyranny and terror. And part of that learning is empowering young people to change the version of the world they are

inheriting from us. Empowerment means not only talking to students about school shootings; it also means teaching them the tools of advocacy. Such tools only just begin with casting votes and writing letters to decision-makers; civil disobedience, as Thoreau saw it—along with Martin Luther King, Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, Julia Butterfly Hill, Tim DeChristopher, and Rosa Parks— is “the true foundation of liberty.” From my father’s death, I learned that our society has very little language or process for dealing with suicide. The same thing is happening now with school shootings: We are dealing with a wide range of difficult feelings. We are grasping for the right words with which to talk to our kids and we are wrangling with reforms, unsure of which will remedy the problem. We do all of this, understandably, without wanting to offend our neighbors. It’s okay that it’s difficult. What’s not okay is retreating into an insular delusion that we are somehow separate from it all. This means stepping into the fray, that messy, alchemical place where hard conversations happen but new alliances and solutions are formed. After all, our kids are facing a future in which an active and informed citizenry will matter far more than test scores and getting into good colleges. The students of Parkland, Florida, get this—albeit at such a heartbreaking price. So now, must we.




FRONT OF THE PACK Athletic phenom Soleil Gaylord is off and running By Martinique Davis


group of elementary school girls sat huddled on the Telluride Middle/ High School field one brisk afternoon last fall, squirming in closer to hear what their guest Soleil Gaylord had to say.

These young runners, who were part of Telluride’s Girls on the Run program, couldn’t get enough of the tall, gazelle-like Gaylord, who had just won the prestigious and highly competitive Wendy’s High School Heisman award honoring her myriad accomplishments as a student athlete and community role model. The girls, many of whom were preparing for their first-ever 5k race, wanted to know how far Gaylord could run, how many competitions she had won, and how she could possibly get up so early before school to train. But characteristically, the articulate, serene Gaylord underplayed her many accomplishments—the numerous state titles in track and cross country, her adventures across the globe as a member of the U.S. Mountain Running team, and her various scholastic and community service awards. Rather, Gaylord gently steered these young runners toward a different dialog about the sport and why she puts so much of herself into it. In her words: “I just love to run.” Gaylord, who graduated from Telluride High School this June, was raised amid a


culture of athleticism, both from within her family as well as from Telluride’s entrenched ethos of a highly physical lifestyle. She started running with her father, Telluride Medical Center physician Kent Gaylord, when she was barely old enough to ride a bike, and was subsequently swept up into the sport through her participation with Telluride’s Girls on the Run team, and later the Telluride Schools’ cross-country and track teams. Longtime Telluride track coach Keith Hampton mentored Gaylord throughout middle and high school, and says that while she exhibited aptitude from very early on, what set her apart was her stringent work ethic. “People think Soleil’s successes have come easy for her because she has so much talent. But any success she’s achieved is because she’s worked hard. Talent helps, but she has put the work in,” he says. Gaylord can frequently be seen running on the bike path along Highway 145 outside of Telluride during the winter, getting her speed workouts in at all hours of the day

and in every weather condition. And the two-time snowshoe World Champion also trains on the snowy trails around Telluride (typically toting a headlamp for those dark winter afternoon sessions). Come summertime, she hits the trails around Telluride, often scaling numerous peaks and passes as she runs for multiple hours at a time. Gaylord toggles effortlessly between sports, moving from cross-country running competitions in the fall, to the winter snowshoe season, into trail running events throughout the summer months when she travels to such faraway locales as Bulgaria, Italy, and Spain for competitions. This style of complementary cross training has helped Gaylord achieve big-time results: She’s won five state track and field titles and two state titles with the Telluride cross country team, was a member of the silver-medal winning U.S. team at the World Mountain Running Championships last year, is a World Champion snowshoe runner, and was named Colorado Sportswoman of the year for 2018.




But asked about what it means to achieve such impressive results—at such a young age—the modest Gaylord says simply: “It’s fun to test the limits of your body and see what you can do.” Yet as her International Trail Running coach Nancy Hobbs notes, there is more to Gaylord than merely her athletic prowess. “Soleil is an amazing individual. She is highly motivated, very mature, and one of the most humble young women I have ever met,” Hobbs says, pointing to Gaylord’s remarkable community service and scholastic record. She designed and maintains a native species garden outside Telluride, she founded a program to save and rebuild Telluride’s Monarch butterfly population, and helped create Telluride’s Brownies to Broccoli program, which supplies fresh produce grown in the school’s greenhouse to the school’s cafeteria. She also produces her own radio show, “Voices of the Valley Flora and Fauna,” and served as student body president. Gaylord says her stringent


training regimen actually helps her keep her busy schedule organized. “It offers discipline and makes me have to budget my time more wisely,” she says, adding that all the commitments “don’t feel like a chore, since it’s all stuff I love to do.” Gaylord’s love of running keeps her energized, but she also garners motivation from the Telluride community. The people who cheer her on when they see her in the wee hours running along the bike path; the teachers and coaches who have mentored her; and fellow runners and training partners like local professional ultra-marathoner Kelly Wolf have all been instrumental, she says, in helping her reach her goals. Gaylord will attend Dartmouth in the fall, where she will run on the women’s cross-country team. She has left an indelible mark on the local running community, says current TMHS cross-country coach Erin Thompson. “She has really built up this program, and while we’re sad

to see her go, she has left a legacy here with all the kids now interested in running and joining the team,” she says, noting that more than 70 sixth through eighth graders came out for the middle school track team in the spring—close to a third of the total student population in those grades. And Gaylord isn’t the only young local athlete that has inspired Telluride’s youth lately: This small community sent three athletes to the 2018 Winter Olympics (“Team Telluride,” p. 76). Telluride has some distinct advantages for sports training: the high elevation, the steep alpine terrain, and an active, healthy, and competitive community. The environment here is nurturing a new generation of world-class athletes, says Keith Hampton, and Gaylord is helping to showcase Telluride as an incubator for elite runners. “It’s amazing she’s gotten so much recognition for our little corner of the state. It’s a testament to what an ambassador she’s been for the sport.” \


Jake McTigue 970.708.1451


Bill Fandel 970.708.4141


Rural Tragedy double homicide near norwood chills community By Katie Klingsporn

a gray toyota sedan. a sunbaked piece of land. rumors of bizarre religious practices. And two dead children. That’s what we started with on that unforgettable September day in 2017 when authorities discovered the bodies of Makayla Victoria Roberts, 10, and her sister, Hannah Elizabeth Marshall, 8, in a vehicle on a farm just south of Norwood in western San Miguel County. Four adults who were on the land that day were arrested, and a fifth—the mother of the children— was taken into custody days later after turning herself in in Grand Junction. Their names were unfamiliar to most: Ashford Nathaniel Archer, 50, and Madani Ceus, 37, both of Haiti; Ika Eden, 53, of Jamaica, Frederick Alexander Blair, 23, a county


resident who owned the land, and the girls’ mother, Nashika Leonie Bramble, 36, of Georgia. Archer, Blair, and Eden were subsequently each charged with two felony counts of child abuse resulting in death, with Archer and Blair facing an additional charge of being accessories to a crime. Bramble and Ceus, meanwhile, were charged with two counts of first-degree murder. All but Blair have pleaded not guilty; as of press time, he had yet to enter a plea. The five suspects have been residing in San Miguel County’s small jail since their arrests. Eight months on, it’s clear they’ll likely remain there for a total of a year, if not longer. Trials won’t begin until August at the ear-

liest, and none of the suspects has yet to even take the stand. Because of that, it’s impossible at this juncture to know exactly what happened, and many in the area still struggle with a swarm of questions about the incident as well as feelings of remorse that such a tragedy could have happened in their community. But as the suspects’ cases continue the tortuous process of winding through court hearings, details have emerged from legal documents and testimony that paint a picture of a strange end-of-times commune that had only recently landed in Norwood, where, unknown to the outside community, the lives of two little girls were allowed to be extinguished.


uch of the group’s alleged background, activities, and intentions were laid out in court over the winter during multi-day preliminary hearings that unfolded in the San Miguel County Courthouse in November and January. The cases had been lumped into two, with Ceus, Blair, and Bramble named in one and Eden and Archer in the other. During the hearings, witnesses included forensic pathologist; Dr. Michael Benziger; San Miguel County Sheriff Bill Masters; County Investigator Norman Squier; Colorado Bureau of Investigation agent; John Zamora; and Blair’s friend; River Young. All took the stand before three deputy district attorneys and a slate of defense lawyers. Witnesses painted a picture of a reclusive endof-times religious group ruled by a strict leader whose efforts to achieve spiritual cleansing had ultimately led to the girls’ deaths. The story allegedly begins with Ceus and Archer, who started leading a group of spiritual followers in the southeastern U.S. circa 2015. According to testimony, their teachings were centered on the belief that an apocalypse was imminent, and that by purifying themselves, they would survive the end times and achieve “light body.” Investigators testified that the group, which numbered more people at first and called itself a family, moved into an apartment together in North Carolina. Members were asked to burn their worldly possessions, including driver’s licenses and social security cards; were kept on a diet of coconut, dates, and water; and were required to shave their bodies and bathe in oil. They eventually began fasting to prepare in earnest for light body. When it didn’t arrive, according to testimony, Ceus and Archer claimed it was because some members were unclean. A few members left, and the remaining group was eventually evicted from the apartment. They decided to hit the road, embarking on what investigators described as a traveling caravan, driving in two cars around the U.S., largely in the Rocky Mountain West, spreading their beliefs and begging for food and money at gas stations and grocery stores. It was at one of these gas station stops in May of 2017 where they met Blair. Blair, a young man described as an aspiring marijuana and vegetable farmer, was driving to Denver to drop off a friend at the airport when he stopped at the Eagle’s Nest truck stop near Grand Junction. According to testimony, he was approached by Eden’s son, Cory Sutherland, who at the time was an active member in the group. They began talking; the group invited Blair to share a meal with them and even performed a healing ceremony. That’s when Ceus allegedly told Blair he was the “St. Michael” they were waiting for, a figure sent by higher powers to help them. He told them he would be driving back through on his way home, and if they were still there, he would let them stay on his property near Norwood. When he returned to the truck stop, they were waiting for him. Blair led the group to the 17-acre tract that he owned, which consisted of scrubby vegetation and his gardens but no structures, aside from lean-tos and shacks. At the time, the group included Ceus, Archer, their two children, Sutherland, Eden, Bramble and her two children—though the family kept one of Bramble’s daughters hidden. Blair claimed he didn’t know of her existence for the majority of the time he was involved with the group.

What allegedly happened once the group arrived in Norwood is largely based on Blair’s accounts to investigators, which follows. The group settled onto Blair’s property and began preparing for the so-called “sealment date,” the day people would be judged as pure or impure and survive accordingly. By then, Ceus had emerged as the group’s ruler, identifying herself as the creator of all things, a godlike figure. She called herself “Yaweh” and “Ama,” used a pendulum to make decisions, and mandated that everyone rid themselves of “grey energy,” which could be picked up by exposure to the outside world. Members slept in their cars and rarely left the property but for the task of “increase”—obtaining high-energy food by begging outside of grocery stores. Mostly, they sat in council and prepared to leave behind past lives and worldly desires to become pure. Members wore robes denoting their place in the hierarchy and slept in their cars; there was no water or sewer on the property. At first, Blair continued to live in a rental in town, but he moved out to the property around July 1.

watering his vegetables, and mandated that a structure be built for her to perform her rituals. At some point, Blair told investigators, Ceus determined that Bramble’s daughters were impure and mandated that they be banished to the car as punishment. The timeline is fuzzy, but she also later allegedly ordered that food and water be withheld from them. The group, meanwhile, continued to meditate, fast, and hold council, preparing for the August 21 solar eclipse, which they believed would mark their entrance into light body. Ceus allegedly ordered a lockdown of the property, not allowing anyone to leave. Prosecutors say that during this time, the girls were basically ignored. By mid-August, the group discovered that the girls had perished. The car was later tarped over and duct-taped. But after the eclipse came and went without any apocalyptic event, Ceus allegedly claimed impurities still existed within the group. She pointed to Blair’s dog, Lion, who was forced into a kennel without food or water. Bramble, perhaps suspecting that she would be next, ran away soon after.

Ceus had emerged as the group’s ruler, identifying herself as the creator of all things, a godlike figure. She called herself “Yaweh” and “Ama,” used a pendulum to make decisions, and mandated that everyone rid themselves of “grey energy.”

At some point, fractures appeared in the group dynamic as Sutherland, who had risen through the hierarchy, began to assert more power. He had a falling out with Ceus, and Masters testified that, according to Blair, Sutherland, who was smoking copious amounts of marijuana, went crazy, getting to the point where he couldn’t even tie his shoes. Blair told investigators he and the others believed that Ceus had “reaped” Sutherland, destroying his mind and spirit with her powers. Blair later drove Sutherland off the property, dropping him off near Mancos. After that, according to testimony, Ceus claimed she gained all of Sutherland’s power. She allegedly forced Blair to destroy his marijuana crops and stop

Friends of Blair’s, alarmed at the state of Lion, reached out to his family. In early September, his father drove from Texas to Norwood to check on him. Blair told his dad about the dead girls, and his father called the police. By the time officers arrived, the bodies had been in the car for several weeks, if not longer. Benziger later testified that, because the bodies were so badly decomposed, it was impossible to determine the cause of death for certain, but that they likely died of malnutrition, hyperthermia, and dehydration. He determined the manner of death to be homicide. “I feel those children died as the result of the actions of others,” Benziger said in court. SUMMER/FALL 2018




t’s up to the justice system to decide who is ultimately responsible for the children’s deaths, be it the alleged cult leader, the mother of the children, the ancillary members of the group, or none of the above. Whatever shakes out, one thing is clear: The incident will leave an indelible mark on the community. The case represents San Miguel County’s first homicide in more than 20 years and comes as a major shock in a region where crime often involves nothing more malignant than drunk tourists. In an early press release, Sheriff Masters released this statement: “In my 37 years as sheriff, I have never seen anything as cruel and heartless as this.” Many have since echoed that sentiment. “I think there was a lot of shock, disbelief, horror,” said Norwood resident and Lone Cone Library Director Carrie Andrew. “Horror that this happened under our nose. There was a lot of guilt, because we definitely are a community that comes together in hardship. Particularly when it comes to children—this community really rallies around children.” Andrew said it’s a tragic stain on Norwood, but she considers it something that happened to the community rather than something that was done by the community. And that has prompted residents to come together in a renewed fashion around the positive parts of Wright’s Mesa living, such as its new library, a raw water system coming online, new commercial shops, and local food initiatives. For good or bad, she says, she thinks this was a wake-up call that made county residents more watchful. “It shakes people up in a community that typically doesn’t lock its doors,” she said. It’s also been a significant strain on the San Miguel County Sheriff’s Office to house and transport the inmates. It’s easy for county residents to overlook that fact because the jail is tucked out of sight in Ilium Valley, Masters said, but noted that, thanks at least in part to this case, the jail is on track to have a record number of inmates this year. “So it’s a burden on this small facility,” he said. “Our average number of inmates the year before was six (at any given time); this year will probably be twice that or more.” Masters is currently running for his tenth term in office and says that, elected or not, he’ll continue to be deeply involved in this case. He’s committed to ensuring that it unfolds in a professional and airtight manner. “I want to make sure it’s conducted in a way that justice is served in this case, no matter what that may be,” he said. He noted that it’s not just his office that is affected by the case. “It’ll impact our community for a long time,” he said.


n the meantime, lawyers have been jockeying in court over severance motions, continuances, and hearings, including a request from defense attorneys to District Judge Keri Yoder for a change of venue, citing local media coverage. Yoder hadn’t rendered a decision on that request by press time. Trials are expected to begin in August. Bramble, who gave birth to another child during her time in jail, has been beset by an undisclosed medical condition. When she last appeared in court, she was in a wheelchair, visibly trembling. Eden, meanwhile, did not appear in her last hearing because she had been sent to a state facility for a competency evaluation, and Blair’s recent request for lower bail was roundly denied by the judge. The children of Ceus and Archer remain in state child protective services. A memorial with flowers, notes, and toys went up at the gate of the property shortly after the news broke. It’s mostly been taken down as of this spring. Only the word “love,” in large silver print, remains. \


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New learning terrain for golf and skiing By Jason Blevins

This box canyon resort town is renowned for its rocky steeps, glorious views, and zealous rippers who fuel one of the West’s most vibrant ski cultures. A rolling meadow just below the Mountain Village could add a new jewel to the Telluride crown by making the ski area one of the world’s top destinations for learning to golf, ski, and snowboard. “When I first got here, I was definitely uncertain. I said, I don’t want to fall over that hill right there,” said 28-year-old Natasha Correa, a first-time snowboarder from Queens, New York, pointing to a snowy horizon line and tiny homes on the valley floor far below. “But once we started right here, I was not intimidated anymore. It’s only been four hours but I really feel like I’m progressing a lot. I’m ready for that next step.” Thanks to a $3 million investment by Telluride Ski & Golf Co., the gently sloping Meadows run was converted into a 15-acre “terrain-based learning™” facility, where meticulously sculpted


features are designed to expedite the learning process by eliminating some of the intimidation endured by never-evers. The resort installed a technologically advanced snowmaking system along the terrain, which becomes a high-end driving range and golf teaching facility in the summer and fall. Golfers can roll through their bag of clubs from tee boxes that stretch 100 yards across the Meadows run, aiming for an undulating series of staggered greens. The resort’s expansion more than quadrupled the size of its golf facility, adding a second putting green, chipping green, and several new bunkers. The practice facility now has 50,000 square feet of tee space for driving on three levels. The 420-yard driving range offers six target greens. The lush putting greens are like ballrooms, with 5,000

square feet of space and a short-game practice green with designated chipping areas and a practice bunker. “We can accommodate so much more and the experience is so much better for lessons and tournaments, club fittings, and events,” said Dale Abraham, Telluride resort’s five-year director of golf and instruction. The growth set aside an area for future development of indoor bays, where golfers can hit balls in inclement weather. The resort expanded the driving range by about 130 yards. With 420 yards on a downhill roll, coupled with the thin air at 9,500 feet, golfers can hit long. “It’s a little bit of everything for everybody,” Abraham said. “We have stuff for beginners where they can start on their short game and work back from the green. And the more experienced can really hone their skills.” The effort required some serious dirt moving with sculptors eyeing both the golf and ski experience. “It

was fine tuned for every aspect of the experience and definitely dual-purposed, with each characteristic serving both skiing and golfing,” Abraham said. In the winter, those driving-range greens serve as up-and-down rollers where first-time skiers and snowboarders can get nibbles of terrain-controlled speed. It’s a dual-purpose investment that aims to both grow snowsports by eliminating some of the daunting barriers to entry while giving members of Telluride’s golf club—and public golfers—one of the most scenic and diverse driving ranges in the state. “It’s not sexy, but it’s so core to the ski school and really the future of the business,” said Telluride Ski & Golf’s partner and chief executive Bill Jensen. “It’s interesting to hear from instructors telling me they’ve been waiting for this for twenty years. It’s what they do and they want to bring more people to the sport.” In many ways, improving learning terrain is more critical to the ski resort industry than adding

the flashy new expert terrain that harvests plenty of accolades among core skiers and their magazines. Telluride has done well on that end, with the expansion into Revelation Bowl, Palmyra Peak and the upper Gold Hill Chutes, affirming its status as a steep-and-deep Mecca for expert skiers. But skiing needs new participants more than it needs to sate its loyal disciples. And terrain-based learning promises to grow the conversion rate of firsttime skiers. For almost two decades, industry leaders have struggled to stem the loss of first-time skiers and snowboarders who overwhelmingly walk away from the snow after their first taste of downhill sliding. Back in 2000, about 15 percent of beginner skiers and snowboarders stuck around to continue a life on snow. Today, after years of intensive growth plans and national programs, that number is closer to 19 percent but still below the industry’s longtime goal of converting a quarter of skiing’s first-timers into lifers.

In Colorado, flat areas accessible to base villages long ago were transformed into condo complexes, but Telluride had a sprawling, slightly sloping meadow just out of the back door of the base village.




But he’s really excited to fast-track the learning Snow Operating, which designed and built the glide down and visually, they see ‘Oh, I’m only going terrain-based learning facility on the Meadows and maybe ten, fifteen feet and then I go back uphill. We process for skiing. Telluride has an enviable selection Peaks runs beneath the Chondola, promises to spike create an environment where there’s nothing intimi- of green runs, including the from-the-top Galloping Goose that rolls for more than four miles down a conversion rates. The company now has built facil- dating about it. We are removing the fear.” Sheedy estimates that 15 percent of Telluride’s wide, always-groomed slope that delivers beginners ities at 46 resorts around North America and most recently in China, which hopes to boast 300 million winter guests have never skied before. One of the chal- Telluride’s stunning views and the ability to ski with lenges of teaching skiing and snowboarding is that the friends. It wasn’t that long ago that a first-time skier skiers by the country’s 2022 Winter Olympics. Snow Operating chief Joe Hession remembers mechanics of a turn require a little bit of speed. That’s would need a good three or four days to get ready to being stunned when he first visited Telluride three no easy task, asking beginners to embrace speed. The ski Galloping Goose. Now, after spending a day workyears ago. In Colorado, flat areas accessible to base first step to learning to ski or snowboard traditionally ing through the terrain-assisted learning programs villages long ago were transformed into condo com- has involved making sure first-timers know how to stop on the Meadows run, a skier can start exploring the plexes, but Telluride had a sprawling, slightly sloping and slow down. With terrain-based learning, the undu- mountain on their second day on snow. Telluride is helping to tear down the longmeadow just out of the back door of the base village. lations in the snow and strategically placed banks and held belief that learning to ski is daunt“Just amazing teaching terrain. I think ing, Hession said. “We want people to every resort in Colorado would die to have say ‘Wow, that was a lot more fun that I the learning terrain that Telluride has,” The resort’s expansion more than thought it would be. I thought it would be Hession said. harder,’” Hession said. “I think we are just So the idea of terrain-based learning quadrupled the size of its golf facility, touching the surface of what is possible starts in phases. First-time skiers at Telwith terrain-based learning at Telluride. luride begin their day in a miniature halfadding a second putting green, If you get to day three, four, or five of makpipe—really just a slight ditch—where ing turns, you have a pretty good chance gravity is countered by rolling up the oppochipping green, and several new bunkers. of getting hooked. But if day one kicks site slope. Roll down one side and momenyour butt, you probably are not going to tum stalls at the top of the other side. A get to day two.” giant berm of snow at the end of the pipe Jaren Yelavich of Arizona wants to keep up blocks the view down the slope, so a first-time skier berms do the slowing for them, so a beginner can focus on simply sliding. “We create an environment where with his wife’s family on snow. The never-ever isn’t staring down a mountain. At the next zone, with a new, state-of-the-art the go is OK. There’s no fear in going,” Sheedy said. skier spent a day on Telluride’s new learning ter100-yard-long covered carpet conveyor lift, slightly “When you remove the fear, all of a sudden the sliding rain and went and bought a new helmet. He didn’t need to rent one. He knew he would need one to banked turns help guide skiers down a slope that experience becomes fun.” Jensen hopes to develop the golf facility even last him for the next several seasons. ends in yet another view-blocking berm. “What you “I like it. The way they taught, it was very see so often in beginner skiers and snowboarders, more, following the path forged by blossoming they don’t want to let their skis go because they are operations like Top Golf. His long-term goal envi- incremental and very easy. Not intimidating at all,” afraid of ‘What’s going to happen if I can’t stop or if I sions roll-up garage door teaching facilities, with said the 23-year-old, posing for a photo with family can’t turn,” said Noah Sheedy, the director of the Tel- swing analysis and high-tech learning tools. The and friends after his second day on snow. “It was luride Ski and Snowboard School. “This kind of zone kind of place where people come to hit balls as really progressive and really easy to learn. Yeah, I guess I am a little surprised.” \ with the small halfpipe, it gives folks the ability to much as play rounds.


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Express Yourself Fiber arts self-portrait class for young students By Julia Johnston


reating a self portrait is one of most challenging things an artist can do; being able to integrate not just what someone thinks they look like to others, but also what they see in themselves, is a unique medium for expression. This summer, a group of children eight to twelve years old will create self portraits out of fabrics, yarns, and buttons. The class is being taught by local textiles legend Judy Kennedy as a part of the Fiber Arts Program sponsored by the Many Hands Fiber Arts Festival in partnership with the Wilkinson Public Library. Twelve lucky children will have the opportunity to explore their creative side with no cost for the session. Kennedy has designed the class so each of the participating children will design at least two self portraits, one of which will be adhered onto a t-shirt. Participants will be encouraged to use a hands-on approach to art, manipulating fabric, textiles, and fiber with the use of felt, fabric, yarn, buttons, shading or pencil techniques, stamping, and a multitude of ribbons and other add-ons to individualize each portrait. The finished product will be exhibited during the Many Hands Fiber Arts Festival, and incorporated into the festival ribbons awarded to winning artists. “Our challenge is to engage the children to explore and portray themselves in the self portrait. To let them explore their self expression, uniqueness, and individuality in their art,” said Kennedy. The theme was inspired by visiting art quilter Carol Ann Waughs’ Self Portrait Class. Waugh will be returning to the fifth biennial Many Hands Fiber Arts Festival held July 27–29, and will be offering two workshops: Stupendous Stitching and Stitch and Slash. “The goal is for the children to express themselves through exploration of their own features and features that others may not see. To express a positive and empowering look at themselves, or the attitude of what they believe others see,” said Kennedy. The Fiber Arts Program is designed to inspire children to weave uniqueness, creativity, and self expression into one powerful piece. Each year since local artists Kathy Greene and Valerie Franzese started the Many Hands festival, they have


also donated time, talent, and materials to the children’s summer reading programs at the Telluride’s Wilkinson Public Library. Students learn some of the skills that are taught at the festival, such as needlepoint, quilting, quilt block designing, layout and painting, knitting, silk fabric dyeing, crocheting, spinning, cross stitch, carding, and ribbon making. Originally skeptical about interest and attendance, the first program was a complete success and had full enrollment. The kids came early and stayed late, and showed a genuine interest in textile art. “Kids love to work with their hands. It’s about giving them the open book to express themselves any way they want to. Giving them freedom,” said Kennedy.

Oftentimes children best express their emotions through art rather than words. Fiber arts in particular allow children the ability to use their hands for self expression, and give them something tangible to take home. This year will be the first year the program is expanding into the neighboring towns of Norwood and Naturita. The Norwood class was held in May at the Norwood Lone Cone Library, and the Naturita classes will be held this fall. Kennedy said she is grateful for the support of Telluride Arts and the Town of Telluride grants, and all of the individuals and Fiber Arts Festival board members who have volunteered their time collecting bits of fabric and materials for the self-portrait class. “We are excited

to have children involved in this hands-on fiber project. The program is promoting the age-old arts of handmade quilts, dolls, weaving, fabric collages, and art quilts,” said Kennedy. Judy Kennedy is a former physical therapist and a longtime quilter, and she co-chairs the Many Hands Fiber Arts Festival with local artist and textile-dyeing instructor Kathy Green. The Many Hands Fiber Arts Festival this summer features classes, workshops, trunk shows, demonstrations, and vendors. The festival also has a special petting zoo with alpacas, which provide the source fiber materials for artists, on display at the Telluride School on Saturday, July 28. For more information or a complete schedule of events, visit \


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Telluride Ski & Golf Resort hitting carbon reduction goals


By Amy M. Peters

hen it comes to environmentalism, it can be challenging to turn good intentions into real actions. It’s one thing for a company to set a goal for reducing its carbon footprint, but staying accountable and quantifying the results takes more effort. That’s where the Climate Challenge comes in—it’s a voluntary program run by the National Ski Area Association (NSAA) that helps ski areas to report, inventory, target, and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.


“If we hadn’t made the snowmaking improvements when we did, we may not have been open this year.”


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Auden Schendler, the vice president of sustainability at Aspen Skiing Co., said that most ski resort CEOs have been “reluctant to use their voice and reach to push on climate.” “That’s too bad because I think the risk today isn’t in taking a position, but in not taking one,” said Schendler, “and the problem is so big it requires action at scale. The ski industry needs to act like the NRA around climate, not just change light bulbs.” Over the years, TSGR has written letters to senators and supported clean energy legislation in congress, but Proteau believes the company could invest more time in advocacy and help inspire change. “How can we get our employees to do better?” Proteau said. “How can we get an overall mindset and paradigm shift in everybody’s daily habits so that our reach can be a little further than just what we’re doing at the resort?” \

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ers, capping idling time and governing RPMs on snowcats to save fuel, and replacing two-stroke engine snowmobiles with four-stroke snowmobiles that have lower emissions. This year, Proteau said that TSGR is going to focus on recycling in its food and beverage departments. He also sees further opportunities for reducing emissions around chairlifts, another big energy consumer, by switching to more efficient AC motors and by avoiding stopping and re-starting chairlifts. He points to Lift 8 as an example. “We don’t have people riding that lift after 2 p.m., so we shut it down,” he said, “which reduces the energy we’re using.” The resort met its its initial threshold, which had a five-year timeline, and is setting new goals with the Climate Challenge. They will limit the purview to the ski resort and exclude, for example, emissions produced by The Peaks Hotel, so that the company can measure targets according to its original baseline. By 2030, TSGR aims to reduce its GHG emissions by 30 percent. When compared to other ski resorts, Proteau said Telluride is performing better than average. TSGR is ahead of the curve in an industry that has been slow to advocate for environmental practices, despite its obvious vulnerability to climate change.

r mie re sP

Telluride Ski & Golf Resort (TSGR) was one of five ski resorts to join Climate Challenge in its inaugural year, which was six years ago. Today there are 37 ski resorts across the country participating in the program. Jeff Proteau, the vice president of mountain operations and planning at TSGR, said that participating in the Climate Challenge has been beneficial. “It’s easier when you have NSAA helping you. They’re constantly sending us emails, and we have a template that we work with to file (annual) reports.” Initially, TSGR determined how much of a reduction in metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions it wanted to achieve over a specific period of time. “We were conservative and went with a 5 percent reduction goal over five years,” said Proteau. To that end, the resort kept an eye on new technology in the industry that reduces energy use so that they could make capital purchases to improve efficiency. “We looked at our low-hanging fruit and asked where are we spending the most energy? And at the time it was snowmaking,” said Proteau, “which is all about pumps.” Director of Snowmaking Brandon Green identified a more efficient way to make snow with a new air-water gun system that reduced compressed air use per gun by almost 90 percent—which translated to a 40 percent reduction in energy use overall for snow production— and convinced TSGR owner Chuck Horning to purchase the new guns. The company went all in, and eventually spent more than $10 million improving its snowmaking system. “And that got our carbon emissions down by approximately 15 percent,” said Proteau. “So even though our goal was 5 percent, because we went big on our primary energy consumer, we were able to make a quick reduction.” The snowmaking upgrades came at a crucial time not just for the company’s environmental efforts, but also for last winter’s unusually dry conditions. The resort had to make snow almost two months longer than usual. “If we hadn’t made the snowmaking improvements when we did, we may not have been open this year. It saved our bacon, so to speak,” said Proteau. TSGR took other steps to reduce their emissions: utilizing a new pump-free distribution system at lower elevations, retrofitting all the light bulbs in most of the resort’s buildings to LED, replacing old boilers with more efficient boil-

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Telluride Faces h

Music Teachers


ll three of the people we profile in this issue don’t just share their love of music by performing, they also share their love for music with their students. Read more about Mary Beth Mueller, Ethan Hale and Rhonda Muckerman and the way they are invigorating Telluride’s music scene.

From Rudimentary to Expressive h

MARY BETH MUELLER uses Suzuki method to teach violin students

By D. Dion




fter a hiatus of several years, Mary Beth Mueller’s former student returned to her studio for Suzuki violin lessons. Mueller was intrigued to see what would happen—the child had grown up, was ready for a full-sized instrument, and had not studied violin in the intervening years. Mueller was delighted. Her student played old pieces from her repertoire with ease and quickly launched into more advanced material. “After a considerable time gap, all the fundamentals were still intact. That was really gratifying to see!” Music educators don’t always get to see the fruits of their labor. Students take up an instrument, often for many years, and teachers introduce students to the fundamentals and build upon those. Some students, like Mueller herself, excel and go on to study music in college and play professionally in ensembles or orchestras. Other students move on as they pursue different activities, change schools, or leave home. Hopefully, kids acquire tools and skills they can apply to various disciplines, but the music teacher is rarely witness to such long-term results. “My objective is to impart an understanding of music and an ability to play violin well. Playing an instrument creates special opportunities. It can really enhance one’s life.” Mueller is a natural teacher—she is articulate, effusive, and has an infectious laugh. She is the opposite of the characteristically dour classical musician; the jovial blonde violinist works hard to keep her students engaged and make lessons fun. Whether it’s a penny game or a 30-Day Practice Challenge, using a phone to record practice or employing props from other games (think dice or playing cards), Mueller tries to make lessons and practice enjoyable. “Being creative and somewhat whimsical can help. Learning to play an instrument takes consistency and that can be a real challenge, especially early on.

I try to be accommodating when my students encounter obstacles and help them solve problems. There’s no substitute for routine practice, so it’s important to energize the process by keeping it fun.” An accomplished skier and hiker, Mueller explains the benefits of repetition and practice to her Telluride students in terms they can understand. It’s like doing drills over and over again on the bump course, or trying multiple times to hit a certain air or trick. At some point, you can do it fluidly. In that way, musicians are much like athletes. Mueller was introduced to music by her mother, who majored in French horn, played piano, and continues to be active as a singer. Her brother is also a violinist and they often played together growing up. She has childhood memories of impromptu musical sessions when they had company—her mom would play piano (unless there was a ringer in the group), she and her brother would play violin, guests would be handed wooden recorders if they had no instrument, and her dad would offer moral support while happily singing along. Mueller graduated from high school at the Interlochen Arts Academy, and continued her musical studies at Duke University. Performing with orchestras and ensembles throughout her life, she has appeared at all kinds of events. During her three decades in Telluride, she has played as a soloist and a chamber musician, sometimes on viola instead, and in countless settings around town and nearby. She feels fortunate to have that opportunity in this special place. “I am lucky to live around amazing people amid breathtaking scenery and I appreciate the fact that music and teaching are a part of my life here. Telluride’s musical community is a vibrant part of the local arts scene.” Mueller is passionate about the Suzuki Method, which is how she first learned violin as a kid in Louisville, Kentucky. It was still a novel approach in this country when Mueller started playing at age five. In the years since, it has become widely established as a system for teaching numerous instruments. Mueller’s musical studies took her through the Suzuki repertoire, college music, and beyond. “I’ve been influenced by all of my own teachers, Suzuki and otherwise. There are great mentors from all kinds of musical backgrounds.” She eventually began teaching lessons in Telluride, and pursued her training as a Suzuki teacher. “It was a classic example of coming full circle. I

developed a greater appreciation of the wonderful community in which I learned to play as a kid. I began to grasp the brilliance of this approach from an adult’s perspective.” The Suzuki Method is distinguished by an emphasis on learning to play by ear. Its founder, Shinichi Suzuki, called this the Mother Tongue Approach. Note-reading comes later in a student’s progression. This simplifies the process enough that learning music becomes accessible to very young children, when their brains are especially receptive, but learning by ear can be easier for students of any age. The method has a set repertoire with designated books and recordings; students learn to play by listening to these recordings and replicating the sounds, just as they learn their native language. Suzuki believed that anyone can learn an instrument and recognized that young children absorb from their surroundings. He encouraged the creation of a musical environment (listening to music and attending concerts) and loving involvement from parents and mentors. “The elements of love and beauty were cornerstones of his philosophy,” Mueller says. “It was sometimes assumed that he was just developing prodigies, because he in fact did, but his primary objective was to nurture fine, compassionate human beings through music. He lived through war and he thought that music might save the world. He believed in the beauty of the human spirit.” This is lofty talk, admits Mueller. Getting those basic skills is still important, and takes time: how to hold the instrument, how to tune it, the mechanics of how to play. The Suzuki approach offers a framework and helps students develop a sense of discipline and commitment. The real beauty, though, is when all those fundamental skills converge and her students are able to use music for expression. At some point, it becomes a way for them to convey emotion. “It’s meaningful that music and other art forms give kids a way to express feelings. Often they are reserved and don’t talk about their inner selves, but playing with sensitivity can give them an outlet…one that fills them satisfaction.” Music has given that same satisfaction to Mueller. She enjoys her weekly lessons with students and their parents as much as she relishes playing and performing. “Sharing music is a pleasure and teaching is an extension of that. I get to work with wonderful people and my life has been enriched by music. I really love it.” \

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Creating the Score h

ETHAN HALE carves out a niche with music By Katie Klingsporn




than Hale is soft-spoken and bespectacled, with a trimmed haircut and a polite demeanor. Not exactly a rock and roll archetype. And just like his personality, his music isn’t showy or in-your-face either. In fact, it’s unobtrusive enough that you might not realize how deeply woven into the fabric of Telluride’s music and theater scene it is. But as the musical director behind Telluride Theatre, Hale’s influence courses through the entire lifespan of the lively theater company. His stamp as music director is on everything from Telluride Sings to Hands on a Hard Body and Hair. His contributions of original songs to the productions are too numerous to count. He wrote ecstatic dance numbers for Dinner with Dionysus, created an original percussion score on found objects in Cataclysm, wrote catchy kids songs for Bella and Buckley’s Birthday Bash and even penned a holiday tune for Dude and Bro’s Christmas Carol. In this way he has played a crucial, if behind-the-scenes, role in that spirit of dynamic creativity and risk-taking that makes Telluride Theatre so effective. His musical footprint goes beyond theater. Hale plays in the band The Dead Restless with friends Sam Burgess and Phil Hamilton, with side and past projects including The Sentimental Sweaters and Spacegunner, and he holds solo residencies at places like Hotel Madeline. He is also passing on his love for music to the young people in town. Hale teaches music lessons at Telluride Music Company, tutoring up to 20 students a week about chord progressions, melodies, and rhythm. In this way, he’s carved a niche for himself. He’s been able to do something that eludes so many artists, especially in a town this small: Make a living from his art. The funny thing is, though, he’s not sure he could have done the same in a bigger city. “Telluride was a way for me to scratch so many itches in a community that really supported me,” Hale said. Hale grew up in the small highplains town of Wheatland, Wyoming.

His brother and sister were 12 and 15 years older than him, and each split to a coastal city for college; his brother to art school in San Francisco and his sister to the renowned Berklee School of Music in Boston. From afar, he says, they fed him tastes of the kind of culture you don’t experience in central Wyoming, his sister in particular, sending him a stream of cutting edge music like Jeff Buckley’s Grace that blew his mind right open. When he was a freshman in high school, Hale befriended a guitar player who taught him about music. They started a band, a self-serious alt-rock outfit that played a lot of U2 covers. He admits that trying to play Smashing Pumpkin-esque originals to the

He got a job, started playing music in a band called Revelation Bowl (which predated the eponymous chairlift at the ski resort) and his life settled into a pattern of music, creativity and friends. It was around that time that Sasha Sullivan (formerly Cucciniello) moved to town and began SquidShow Theatre. She had an idea for an out-of-the-box original performance that would take the audience on a roving show around town, and was looking for a music person. Hale signed up. The result was A Day, an experience that electrified him. “It was like a perfect convergence of original music and theater,” he said. That was the beginning of a fruitful partnership; Hale, Sullivan and the core members of the Tellu-

“College is where I learned how to write songs, just by doing it over and over and over again and writing really terrible songs.” hometown crowd of country-music lovers usually fell flat. “Some of our early gigs were absolutely hilarious,” he said. But they kept at it, taking their collaboration to college at the University of Wyoming, where it became a four-part band. It was during that period that Hale dove headfirst into songwriting. “College is where I learned how to write songs, just by doing it over and over and over again and writing really terrible songs,” he said. He studied theater mainly because it offered a fast track to graduation, but found he genuinely enjoyed it. Still, it didn’t eclipse music, and by senior year, he decided he wanted to make it as a recording artist. After graduation, he moved to New York City to crash at his sister’s apartment and pursue his musical career. He got a job, played a few open mics and, he said, experienced massive culture shock. In New York City, “you learn about the world really fast and you realize that it’s a gigantic pool of struggling artists.” Hale ended up moving to Los Angeles with a girlfriend, but it didn’t last long. After that, he drifted for a bit. He reconnected with a college friend who was also without direction, and they decided to pick a random town and live there for a year. They settled on Telluride, moving to town in late 2005.

ride Theatre ensemble have since collaborated on the gamut of theatre experiences, from kids plays to musicals and Shakespeare. (Ultimately SquidShow became part of Telluride Theatre.) “The theater company has been an amazing opportunity just to play and experiment and give us all confidence,” Hale said. And, he added, he likes the process of writing music for theatre. “It’s super liberating,” Hale said. “When you are writing your own songs you are under so much pressure to have something very poetic … I find more freedom when there isn’t construct.” Not that it’s precluded him from pursuing his own music. After years of chasing the dream of making his living fully off of music, he achieved it recently through hotel residencies, regular gigs, and teaching lessons. He even has a soundproof studio of sorts, in the cellar of the Gold Run home he shares with his wife, Tori. Which is good. Because for Hale, music isn’t something he can shake. It’s a proclivity that’s always come naturally, a language he can speak, a world he loves to inhabit. And while he never did quite achieve that level of fame he was seeking in his post-college years, he instead found a fertile creative community that gives him the space to experiment, write, and make his livelihood off art. \

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SUMMER/FALL 2018 TMS Telluride Magazine Summer 2018 Ad.indd 3


3/30/18 10:20 AM


Giving the Gift of Music h

RHONDA MUCKERMAN’S spiritual connection to song


honda Muckerman has known that she wanted to study music since she was seven years old, learning to play the flute and piano. But it wasn’t until she was a freshman at Michigan State University, performing in the top symphonic ensemble, that she realized her ultimate calling. Muckerman took her seat and watched the conductor start the initial piece at the first rehearsal. “He was the most beautiful conductor I’d ever seen. I couldn’t even play. It was like nothing I’d ever seen before, the way he moved, the way he transmitted the music, it was such a sacred and beautiful thing. I knew at that moment that I wanted to be a conductor.” And a conductor she has become, as the director of the Telluride Choral Society and working for a period of time as the music teacher at schools in Norwood and Telluride. Her degrees—an undergrad degree from MSU and a master’s from University of Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music—are in music education and conducting. Flute is her main instrument, but she is able to play and teach students to play any instrument— woodwinds, strings, brass, percussion, and of course vocals. “That doesn’t mean I would get up and perform on a trumpet,” laughs Muckerman. “I wouldn’t. But as a music teacher I understand the pedagogy.” Muckerman radiates energy and is an extrovert. She speaks rapidly and enthusiastically, has short cropped hair and a vibrant, wide smile. She says she considers music a connection to the spiritual realm and sees her work as a conductor and teacher as a sacred duty. “Music has the power to transform us as human beings; to me, it’s something that comes from the spiritual realm. There’s always a moment in every performance, no matter what age group, that I feel gratitude that I am able to be a conductor.” She came here in the early 90s after having a dream about this place. Telluride was unfamiliar to her, but when she turned on the TV the next day, there was a feature about the town. When she did arrive, she felt déjà vu at the sight of the mountain landscape and of riding her bike down


Colorado Avenue with her flute in her backpack. It was the scene from her dream, an affirmation that she was destined to be here. And so it seemed: She garnered 28 students for private music lessons in her first year. She sang with the local a cappella group Heartbeat and joined the choral society and performed under her predecessor as director, John Yankee. And within three weeks of moving here, she met her husband Peter Muckerman. It was kismet. “It was like kaboom, here

is your spiritual family, here are your kindred spirits,” says Muckerman. Her work in the community has been fulfilling and rewarding, she says. Telluride Choral Society has several different age groups. There are three choirs for kids: a training choir for second and third graders, the Choristers group for fourth through sixth graders, and OmniVoce, a more challenging program with various musical parts, songs in different languages, and some note reading for young

adults in seventh through twelfth grades. The choral society also has two adult groups, the Chorale, a popular community choir for adults with no audition necessary, and the Chamber Singers, a smaller ensemble of semi-professional singers that travels and performs. Because of her many years teaching and directing, Muckerman says she has been singing with some of the adults in the choral society for twenty years. While she loves working with all the age groups, she says there’s something special and unique about working with children, because they have such an openness to learning and it is easy to reach them. Muckerman says they have no filter, nor preconceptions, and that no matter what kind of sound comes out of their instrument the first time they pick it up, they have fun. If Muckerman has a trick to working with kids, it is to be present and focused and let the intuition and inspiration flow through. “You can teach the technique and they’ll sound good playing or singing, but to teach them to play with love and an open heart, that’s what reaches people and makes an impression on them. I like to think I’m planting the seeds of a love for music that will last a lifetime.” Music is not just a gift she has given to her students, it’s also been a source of strength and joy in her own life. Her stepson Eliot passed away in 2014 and she was struggling with the loss. Just days later, she was standing in front of 38 kids conducting the band. They all gave their condolences and said sweet and kind things, but she says she still felt like she was missing a limb; she felt exposed, vulnerable, and raw. Days later she had to perform in the choir herself for the spring concert—she had a solo during one of the songs— and she wasn’t sure if she would be able to pull it off. But teaching and performing music was therapeutic. She somehow belted out the solo, a deep-toned ancient spiritual. “Music is healing, uplifting, and uniting; it takes us beyond our suffering. Human beings are courageous and we have a lot of facility to get through things. To me, music is a gift as we muddle through our lives.” \


By D. Dion

Plunge Landing – 209 South Townsend Street A mixed-use urban building located in the Historic District of Telluride

Strategies of discrete massing using local and modest materials are interpreted for this contemporary model of living. Plunge is a mixed-use 6 bedroom plus commercial space at just under 10,000 square feet. The creative vision of New York architects Smith-Miller and Hawkinson and dogged persistence of the owner expanded this resort town’s vision of compatibility within its National Historic District. Using the vernacular of Telluride’s mining and commercial buildings rather than the traditional foursquare late Victorian, and Gothic revival residences which predominate, a dynamic space for modern living and working has been achieved. MLS# 35165. $6,650,000

Kevin Holbrook

PHONE: (970) 729.1601 EMAIL:


STRANGERS IN THEIR OWN LAND Home is where the heart is By Paul O’Rourke


outhern Ute Chief Ignacio stood outside the log meeting hall in Monticello, Utah on a bitterly cold mid-December day in 1894, stunned at what he’d just heard and witnessed inside. More to the point, the chief was angry. And not for the first time. Dealing with white men and their governments and the omnipotent “Great Father” in Washington had never failed to confound and at times enrage him.



With all the fanfare of regal proclamations, the treaties of 1868, 1873, and 1880 were presented to members of the seven bands of the Ute Indian tribe as pledges from the U.S. Government to honor their successive cessations of territory in Colorado with promises the Utes would be able to dwell in the territory defined by those agreements “as long as the grass grows and the rivers flow.” What the Utes came to understand from hard experience was that non-native trespassers showed little or no respect for those treaties. Where there was land worth the taking the government could not—or, more accurately, would not—impede the white invaders as they streamed onto reservation lands in Colorado. Armed hostilities with U.S. Army troops and a deadly confrontation with Ute Agent, Nathan Meeker, carried out by members of the White River Ute band in the Fall of 1879 were the final bits of “evidence” a vast majority of Coloradans needed to justify their fervent call, “The Utes Must Go!” On June 15, 1880 Congress ratified a treaty calling for all but the Southern Ute bands (the Weeminuche, Capote, and Mouache) to be escorted out of Colorado. They were to remain on a 15-mile-wide and one-hundred-mile long strip of land in the extreme southwestern corner of the state. That late August Sunday morning in 1881—when nearly 1,500 men, women and children made their way out of western Colorado—was a heartbreaking day for the Ute Indians. For others it was an occasion marked by unbridled joy. One Army general recalled that the people who had gathered to watch the Utes go “were so unrestrained by common decency that it was absolutely necessary to use military force to keep them off the reservation until the Indians were gone.” And rush in they did. Miners, farmers, ranchers, and town builders moved into southwestern Colorado by the thousands. And with growing frequency, the newly arrived came face to face with the recently departed, who, as was their habit and their right per the 1873 treaty, continued to pursue game off the reservation and in their traditional hunting grounds. In several instances the encounters were not of the neighborly variety. Perhaps overstating the case, Lake City’s Silver World Extra declared in 1881, “War with the Utes in the Grand River country has begun at last,” suggesting apparently that armed conflict between the Utes and incoming settlers had been all but inevitable. In 1881, the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad, in its frenetic rush to reach southwestern Colorado’s booming mining districts, ran its tracks from Colorado Springs south and then west from La Veta Pass. From a point just

west of Antonito the line cut south then west through northern New Mexico. Heading north and west from Pagosa Junction, the D&RG reached Durango in late August, ironically at about the same time the majority of Utes were exiting Colorado. Apparently with the permission of the Secretary of the Interior, General Palmer and his railroad blatantly laid its tracks through what had been promised would be an exclusive Ute reserve. For their part, the Southern Utes found little on their reservation that suited their needs or inclinations. Not particularly interested in settling into agrarian domesticity—seen by paternalistic white society as the best way to “civilize the savages”—Southern Utes continued their seasonal hunting excursions with the tacit blessing of agent Mr. Stollsteimer, and to the growing consternation of an ever increasing white population in the cattle ranges near the towns of Dolores, Mancos, and Rico. The deaths of three white settlers at the hands of Ute hunting parties in 1881 set the stage for what would be a defining moment in Southern Ute and Anglo relations four years later. Rumor spread quickly among the settlements in the Disappointment country and along the Big Bend of the Dolores River. The Utes, according to many, had threatened to kill every white man, woman and child they found to be living on their ancestral hunting grounds. When a self-appointed militia of cattlemen came upon a small Ute encampment on Beaver Creek (16 miles north and slightly west of Dolores) in the early morning hours of June 19, 1885 they believed it their right, if not their duty, to exact retribution. They opened fire, killing six and wounding two. The Dolores News cited the 1881 deaths of Dick May and two others, the fourteen dead white “volunteers” at the Battle of Pinhook Draw (where eighteen Utes were also killed), along with horse stealing and cattle killings by the Utes as justification for what became known as the “Beaver Creek Massacre.” Clearly, the Southern Ute reservation policy was not working. The Southern Utes were not happy. Reservation lands had been entirely depleted of game and government provisions did not furnish life’s basic necessities. Added to that, whites in southwestern Colorado, through an especially virulent press in places like Durango, Dolores, Rico, and Mancos, reaffirmed a long-standing demand, “the Utes must go.” On December 28, 1885 Agent Stollsteimer reported to the Commissioner on Indian Affairs, “Ignacio, principal Chief of the Southern Ute Indians informed me that his people are dissatisfied with their present location and desire to select a new reservation in Utah, where they will not be bothered by the Anglos.” Ignacio, representing the Weeminuche band and Buckskin Charlie, principal chief of the Mouache band, were invited to Washington D.C. in 1886. Ignacio had been there in 1880 and had listened to President Hayes’ dubious explanations as to why it was a good idea for the Utes to leave Colorado. At the 1886 meeting


with members of the Interior Department and the Senate’s Committee on Indian Affairs the two chiefs made abundantly clear their interest in moving their reservation to Utah. The U.S. Senate and the newly appointed Ute Indian Commission in August 1888 proposed the Blue Mountain region in southeastern Utah as the most suitable option for a new Southern Ute reservation. Upon inspection of the proposed territory (nearly two million acres larger than the reserve in Colorado) and viewing the numerous herds of cattle on

the ranges around the Blue and La Sal Mountains, Ignacio and Buckskin Charlie appeared to have a change of heart. When told that the settlers and their cattle were trespassing on government land and would be forced to leave if the Utes approved the reservation, discussions resumed. And when government officials offered $100,000 in cash and $50,000 worth of sheep (double the initial offer) the Ute chiefs agreed to sign the agreement in November 1888. All that remained was ratification by Congress. But in the minds of Ignacio, Buckskin Charlie, and Severo (chief of the Capote band)—and nearly all the members of the Southern Ute tribe—the deal was done. Meanwhile, the residents of Bluff, Blanding, Monticello and La Sal, in Utah Territory, were determined any such relocation would never happen. By the early 1890s and following the arrival of the Pittsburgh and Carlisle cattle companies, the discovery of gold along the San Juan River just below Bluff City, along with a new voice in the form of an eastern philanthropic organization called the Indian Rights Association (IRA), serious resistance mounted to what Ignacio and Buckskin Charlie believed a fait accompli. Congress, in its inimitable lassitude, interpreted by many as complete indifference to the promises made to the Southern Utes in 1888, went back and forth on the issue of removing the tribe to southeastern Utah. By March 1893, with still no decision from Congress, Grover Cleveland had reassumed the Presidency and in so doing appointed an unlikely new agent for the Southern Utes.



62 • HISTORY David F. Day, a Medal of Honor recipient for heroism, if not for his superior survival instincts during the Civil War, was a newspaper man. He began his journalistic career in 1879, in Ouray where the Solid Muldoon became the mouthpiece for Day’s general disdain for most people and places. He is famously associated with the 1887 quote, “Ouray has 4 churches and 14 saloons. Telluride has 10 saloons and plans for a church.” More to his view on the Ute situation Day offered, in November 1880, “A dead Indian was found near the Big Bend [Dolores River]. From the bullet hole in his head it looks very much as if he had been shot. Let the good work go on.” Day’s move to Durango in 1892 put him in close contact with those civic and business interests very keen on seeing Congress approve the 1888 Ute removal agreement. And though his attitude regarding the Utes had softened a bit since his rather crude comments in 1880, his connections to the cattle and ranch concerns in southern Colorado rendered his role as agent for the Utes highly suspect in the minds of many, especially those who stood opposed to the new reservation in Utah. During a March 1894 meeting with Cleveland, with Ignacio in attendance, Day reported the President told the chief, “he didn’t care a damn if he took his people to Blue Mountain.” Ignacio, known for telling the truth, took the Great Father at his word. And by the end of summer, though still without official congressional sanction and apparently with complete endorsement from Agent Day, the Southern Utes began their migration to what they believed was their new and rightful home. Where there was once only vocal resistance to the new reservation plan, as the winter of 1894 approached, and especially after nearly 1,000 Southern Utes had, according to Durango’s Herald Democrat “invaded” Utah, the atmosphere turned decidedly antagonistic. How the standoff would be resolved remained in question. Monticello was chosen as the meeting place where Colorado, Utah, and federal officials, along with settlers and representatives of the Ute tribe, including Agent Day, would convene in order to forestall imminent bloodshed.


When it was discovered during the 1950s that the two reservations in southwestern Colorado sat atop one of the world’s richest deposits of methane, oil, and gas companies soon arrived, cut deals with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and reaped a financial windfall. The Southern Utes and Ute Mountain Utes must have— once again—felt like strangers in their own land, on the outside looking in on an immensely profitable enterprise taking place in their own backyard. In 1991, under the leadership of Tribal Chairman Leonard Burch, the Southern Utes began buying back drilling rights and incorporated the Red Willow Oil and Gas Production Company and the



On Dec. 12 talks began in an overly crowded 40 x 20-foot room that served as the town’s school, church, and community center. Things began poorly. Adding fuel to glowing embers, Utah’s Territorial Governor Caleb West arrived in a buckboard loaded with a chest of rifles and ammunition. He made it known that if the federal government wouldn’t remove the Utes from southeastern Utah he would call out the territorial militia to do so. Reportedly, in the crowd that had gathered outside the Red Cedar Oil and Gathering Company. According to the New York Times in an article published on July 24, 2007, “The Southern Utes now control distribution of roughly 1 percent of the nation’s natural gas supply. This once impoverished tribe is now worth over $4 billion. Each of its 1,400 members is a millionaire, at least on paper, many times over.” On July 12, 2010 High Country News summed up this remarkable change of fortunes, stating, “The Southern Utes have achieved cultural, environmental (renewable energy programs now augment oil and gas production), and economic self-determination—a feat rarely accomplished, whether by Indian or non-Indian.”

log meeting hall were about thirty well-armed cowboys, several of whom were noticeably intoxicated; a few of them were known to have participated in the Beaver Creek Massacre. The Utes in attendance, including Ignacio, reiterated their rightful claims to the territory, “Washington City man tell us to come here… says all right so we stay.” Unbeknownst to most, if not all, in the building, Congress had been revisiting the 1888 agreement. The argument that keeping the Southern Utes in Colorado, to affect an allotment program on the eastern portion of the reservation and allowing communal ownership on the western 40 miles resurfaced and was greeted with renewed enthusiasm, even from the Colorado delegation. More importantly the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, just three days prior to the conference in Monticello, reversed its position, confirming that any hopes to pass legislation authorizing the Ute removal to Utah were all but dead. At 4 p.m. on December 12, after a day of often bitter debate, Lt. Col. H.W. Lawton received an official dispatch from Washington: The Utes must return to Colorado. Recriminations filled the air. Ignacio was incensed. Dave Day was the target of verbal attacks from both sides at the bargaining table. (It was rumored the acerbic editor hid in a Monticello basement for three days following the conference.) After all was said and done, resistance to the government’s decision—as it had always been—was futile. The Utes resigned themselves once again to the reality they’d been misled and treated with disdain. It’s been said that home is where the heart is, but in this case Ignacio and the Southern Ute Indians returned to their southwestern Colorado home with heavy hearts. President Cleveland signed the Hunter Act on February 11, 1895. The Capote and Mouache bands settled on their individually owned allotments on the eastern end of the Southern Ute Reservation. The Weeminuche band, under Ignacio’s direction, refused the allotment program, choosing instead to live communally, as they always had, on the western 40 miles of what became the Ute Mountain Ute Reservation. On May 4, 1899 those lands on the Southern Ute Reservation not claimed by the Indians were opened to settlement. \ Had they been able to see life and commerce on the contemporary reservation Chiefs Ignacio and Buckskin Charlie might have nodded and smiled wryly to one another, understanding after all…there’s no place like home. The author wishes to recognize Robert McPherson, whose article in the Fall 2016 edition of Blue Mountain Shadows (The Magazine of San Juan County History) provided inspiration and information for this article. Other source material: Southern Ute Lands 1848-1899 by Gregory C. Thompson, We Shall Fall as the Leaves by Howard Greager, and several Colorado newspapers.

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The following is an excerpt from The Monk of Mokha, Dave Eggers’ 2018 New York Times bestseller.


n the spring of 2015, I met Mokhtar Alkhanshali outside the Blue Bottle Coffee headquarters in Oakland, California. He had just returned from Yemen, having narrowly escaped with his life. An American citizen, Mokhtar was abandoned by his government and left to evade Saudi bombs and Houthi rebels. He had no means to leave. The airports had been destroyed and the roads out of the country were impassable. There were no evacuations planned, no assistance provided. The United States state department had stranded thousands of Yemeni Americans, who were forced to devise their own means of fleeing a blitzkrieg—tens of thousands of US-made bombs dropped on Yemen by the Saudi air force. The way Mokhtar escaped was brazen and astonishing, but was only the last in a series of remarkable leaps of courage and self-invention that Mokhtar had made in a few short years. He had grown up poor, in a Yemeni-American family of nine living in a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district—in many ways the city’s most troubled neighbourhood. While trying to get a college degree, he took a job as a doorman in a residential high-rise called the Infinity. It paid adequately but he was uninspired, and he spent his days vibrating, expecting great things of himself but unsure what shape his dreams would take.


One day a friend told him that across the street from his desk at the Infinity was an enormous statue of what appeared to be a Yemeni man with his hands raised overhead, drinking from a cup of coffee. This seemed to be the kind of sign he was looking for. It turned out that the statue was the old symbol of Hills Brothers coffee, their headquarters having been in downtown San Francisco for decades. The statue began a feverish journey of discovery, on which Mokhtar learned that coffee had first been cultivated in Yemen, and that for centuries the port of Mokha was the centre of the world’s coffee trade. The Yemeni coffee trade had fallen on hard times, though—it was known now for its unreliable quality and the few remaining farmers still growing coffee were largely aimless and impoverished. With no experience as a farmer or importer, Mokhtar flew to Yemen, reconnected with his extended family, and visited all 32 regions of Yemen where coffee was still cultivated. He met with farmers and agricultural collectives, and made plans to improve their crop—and their fortunes—by vastly improving Yemeni coffee’s quality and reintroducing it to the world’s specialty coffee market. And he was well on his way to improbable success when the Houthis swept down from the north of the country, overtaking the capital, Sana’a. When the Saudis began a bombing campaign to oust them from power, Mokhtar knew it was time to leave. At 3am on 26 March 2015, Mokhtar was shaken awake. The building was vibrating. He was in Sana’a, at the headquarters of Rayyan, a coffee company founded by another American, Andrew Nicholson. The rattle brought him to the roof, where he saw Faj ’Attan mountain on fire. Houthi anti-aircraft fire striped the sky. Fires plumed around the city. It was the end of the world. Mokhtar went online and confirmed it was the Saudis. F-15s were bombing Houthi positions all around Sana’a. Every few minutes there was another strike. The ceiling shook and dust rained down. Mokhtar called his mother. “I’m OK,” he said. She begged him to leave the capital, but going anywhere in the middle of a bombing campaign seemed unwise. Mokhtar was in a high-density residential neighbourhood of Sana’a, and from all the news he SUMMER/FALL 2018


66 • LITERATURE was getting it seemed that the Saudis were after the Houthis’ military positions and munitions dumps only. He told his mother not to worry and hung up. He tried to sleep. He counted the air strikes. Fifty, 60. He lost track at 80. At 5am, he heard the call to prayer. Then another. Competing calls echoed through the city. He went out on to the street, determined to wait out the last hour of darkness at the mosque. On his way, between the black silhouettes of the buildings, he saw the bright white stripes of anti-aircraft fire. Inside the mosque, a few dozen men were gathered as the bombing continued. The rug was grey with the ceiling’s plaster. The imam performed a long supplication, and the congregants prayed as if living their last minutes. There couldn’t be so many military targets in Sana’a, Mokhtar thought. They must be hitting civilians and this must really be war. When the imam asked God to forgive the sins of those present, the men around him wept, and Mokhtar knew he might die there, that at any moment a bomb would rip through the roof. Had it been a good life? Mokhtar thought. He wasn’t sure. It was incomplete. He should have started all this coffee business sooner, he thought. Had he begun a year earlier, he would have at least done something, finished something, before the bombs rained down. Now he would die in a mosque. Maybe his family might find some comfort in that. Another bomb struck, now closer. The men around him stopped crying. They had submitted to their fate. Mokhtar did, too. Nothing was within his control, so he lost all fear and worry. He felt a weight leave his shoulders. He would die, he would not die. It had nothing to do with him. He could run from the mosque and die. He could stay in the mosque and die. Or maybe he wouldn’t die. He and the congregants stayed an hour, until finally the quiet between bombs spread and became whole. At daybreak it was over. When Mokhtar and the rest of the men left the mosque, the sun had begun to rise and the city was bathed in an eerie pink light, the air bright with dust. Mokhtar, feeling a new and encompassing peace, walked from the mosque to the mill, sure that nothing would ever frighten him again. It was as if he had died already. Later that morning, he went back to the travel agent. He told her he wanted two tickets out of Sana’a. He and Andrew had to get to the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) conference. “What are you talking about?” the travel agent said.


“There’s no airport.” The Saudis had destroyed it. No flights could come in or out. Mokhtar went to the mill. He and Andrew chewed khat. “It was closed during the Arab Spring, too,” Andrew said. “It’ll reopen.” Mokhtar checked the US state department website, expecting to find information about an organized evacuation for American citizens. There was nothing of the kind. Every day, the state department offered vague indications that Yemeni Americans should find passage out of the country by any means available. There was recent precedent for the US state department helping its own citizens evacuate from a foreign country at war. In 2006, the Pentagon and state department helped 15,000 Americans leave Lebanon during the war between Israel and Hezbollah. But this was different. Given the presence of al-Qaida and Islamic State in Yemen, the US decided it could not risk a large evacuation. They had no embassy or staff on the ground, thus had no effective way of screening all the prospective passengers on a plane or ship. They deemed the prospect of unintentionally bringing a terrorist into the US too great a risk. They decided to leave American citizens, stuck in Yemen, to their own devices. An official notice from the state department said: “There are no plans for a US government-coordinated evacuation of US citizens at this time. We encourage all US citizens to shelter in a secure location until they are able to depart safely. US citizens wishing to depart should do so via

HE TOLD HIS MOTHER NOT TO WORRY AND HUNG UP. HE TRIED TO SLEEP. HE COUNTED THE AIR STRIKES. FIFTY, 60. HE LOST TRACK AT 80. commercial transportation options when they become available.” This led to the creation of a website,, which documented the plight of those remaining in Yemen. The site was supported by American Muslim advocacy groups including the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Asian Law Caucus. The site grew to include a register of 700 Americans hoping their government would provide a way out of Yemen. Under pressure from Arab-American civil rights groups, a state department spokesman, Jeff Rathke, explained that those Americans remaining in Yemen had made their own bed and now they must

lie in it. Because they had ignored long-standing warnings from the American government, he implied, this was on them. “For more than 15 years the state department has been advising US citizens to defer travel to Yemen, and we have been advising those US citizens who are in Yemen to depart,” he said. At a press conference, another spokesperson, Marie Harf, referred vaguely to escape “opportunities” for Americans. One reporter asked her for clarity. “What are those opportunities?” he asked. “Swim?” Mokhtar weighed his options. He’d heard rumours about freighters shipping livestock and peo-

ple between Mokha and Djibouti. Online, Mokhtar found that the port of Mokha was more or less functioning. It was being fought over by the Houthi and government forces—but ships were leaving regularly. He called Andrew. “You want to take a boat from Mokha?” Andrew asked, incredulous. “We get to Djibouti and fly to Addis,” Mokhtar said. Without better options, Andrew agreed. Mokhtar called the US embassy in Djibouti, expecting nothing, but reached a human. He asked, hypothetically, if he and another American were to get passage across the Red Sea, and were able to make it to Djibouti by boat, would they be received by the US


embassy and helped in their return to America? The embassy representative, a friendly woman whose pragmatism was emboldening, confirmed they would. “We won’t be put in some refugee camp?” Mokhtar asked. “No, no,” she said. “If you make it here, we’ll help you in any way we can.” Mokhtar and Andrew decided they’d go on Friday, after jumma (noon prayers). Violence was less likely on the Islamic holy day, they assumed. They arrived in Mokha by early evening on Friday carrying suitcases containing precious coffee samples acquired at great cost. Mokhtar had named his company after Mokha, and had for years been enthralled by its history. But this was his first time seeing it. The road into the town was potholed and surrounded by crumbling stone dwellings, many abandoned. The fabled port had once been one of the most important in

the world, but all that remained were some 15,000 impoverished souls. The city had fallen on hard times. There was one functioning hotel. When Mokhtar and Andrew walked in, they found a chaotic scene. Everyone who wanted to get out of Yemen through Mokha was there—Ethiopians, Eritreans, Somalis. At the front desk, the clerk was charging about five times what a room would cost on a normal day. But Mokhtar and Andrew had no choice. They paid their money and went to their room. Mokhtar called a contact named Mahmoud, who said he could arrange passage on a ship the next day. Mahmoud arrived at the hotel an hour later and confirmed they could take a Somali cargo ship that usually brought livestock to Mokha, but had recently been converted to take people out of Yemen. The next day, or maybe Sunday, the ship would take 150 evacuees, and a few tons of onions. He’d make sure they had room for Mokhtar and Andrew. The trip to Djibouti City would take anywhere from 15 to 20 hours. They woke at sunrise and contacted Mahmoud. “There’s a problem,” he said, and Mokhtar knew the rest. Nothing was simple in Yemen. If someone said they could get you on a boat, that was just the beginning of the conversation. It was never as easy as buying a ticket and getting on that boat. Mahmoud was saying there was no fuel and the ship wasn’t leaving that day. “When is it leaving?” Mokhtar asked. “Hard to say,” Mahmoud said. Mokhtar asked Mahmoud about other possibilities. Mahmoud mentioned the outside chance of hiring what he called a viper boat. On it, the trip would take five to six hours to Djibouti, he said. Mokhtar pictured a speedboat, the sort favoured by Caribbean drug dealers. “I’ll look into it,” Mahmoud said. Mokhtar knew what that meant. He had time to see the al-Shadhili Mosque. He’d been thinking about it ever since they’d arrived. It was the spiritual home of the original monk of Mokha, Shaykh Ali Ibn Omar Alqurashi al-Shadhili—the man who first brewed coffee, who built the coffee trade. His guide was a local judge and historian, Adel Fadh. Short and middle-aged, with a gentle demeanour,

he led Mokhtar into the mosque, a humble structure undergoing significant repairs. Built to honour Shaykh Ali, the mosque retained a vibrating spirituality. The Sufi monk had gone to Harar, married an Ethiopian woman and brought the coffee plant—which hadn’t been cultivated yet; it was still wild—back to Yemen. Here, in Mokha, he invented the dark brew now known as coffee. Local lore had it that he was responsible for Mokha’s ascendance to the centre of the coffee trade. It was he who introduced coffee to traders who came to Mokha, and who extolled its medicinal qualities. The mosque was more than 500 years old, and had been repaired many times, Adel explained. But there was so little money to keep it up now. With Mokha so poor, and the country at war, he feared for the future of the mosque and the town. “We can restore this port to greatness,” Mokhtar said. If he could get out of Yemen alive, and come back someday, he would see to it, he said. He had no idea how he would do it, but he felt obligated to give the judge some semblance of hope. Adel, a guileless man, listened intently, and Mokhtar realised that

all the workers in the mosque were listening, too. He spoke about the modern coffee trade, the rise of speciality coffee, the imminent supremacy of Yemeni coffee, how Mokha could thrive again. Mokhtar’s phone rang. It was Mahmoud. He’d found a boat and captain who could make the trip. The pilot was a young man, about 30, and the boat itself was tiny, about 14ft long, just a flat-hulled skiff—this was no viper boat. It turned out Mahmoud had been trying to say “fibre boat,” not viper boat. Their escape vessel was a sorry thing, low and narrow, with a single Yamaha outboard motor. It looked as if it could be capsized by a tuna. “We’ll get soaked in that thing,” Andrew noted. They got back into the truck, looking for tarpaulins. They’d have to wrap the suitcases in the tarps and store them in the bottom of the boat to keep the coffee dry. At the beach, they were met by a pair of local police officers whose allegiance— to Houthis or the government—was unclear. Mokhtar pressed a bribe into their hands, and they were free to leave Mokha.




When they looked closer at the hired skiff, Andrew and Mokhtar laughed. Andrew had grown up on a lake in Louisiana, and this watercraft was smaller than the boats he’d used to go fishing. Could it really make it across the Red Sea? The man they’d hired to steer it seemed confident enough. He said he’d done it many times. There was no extra motor. There was one paddle. There were no life vests. They had no idea if there were Saudi ships out there. Or if Saudi planes would attack a craft leaving the port. Or if the US navy was out there and might assume they were terrorists and blow them out of the water. There was also the possibility—probably greater than any other—that the captain would sell them to Somali pirates. “Time to leave,” Mokhtar said. They rolled the suitcases in the tarps and set them on the floor of the boat. While the captain was prepping the engine, Mokhtar and Andrew made a plan with their friends Ali and Ahmed, for any eventualities. Mokhtar and Andrew would call Ali and Ahmed when they got to the port of Djibouti. If they didn’t call within a designated time, that meant something had gone wrong, that they’d likely been sold to pirates. In that case, Ali and Ahmed were authorized to kidnap relatives of the captain. It was the Yemeni way.


On the beach, all of this was discussed with a mixture of seriousness and dark humour. Their suitcases lined the boat floor, and everything was ready. All this time, two small local kids, a boy and a girl, had been hovering. This wasn’t unusual in itself—there were always local kids who took an interest in any vessel leaving the shore—but now these two kids jumped into the boat. “Who are these kids?” Mokhtar asked the captain. They were the children of a friend of his, the captain said. He was delivering them to their father in Djibouti. Mokhtar and Andrew briefly debated whether the presence of two children made the trip more perilous or less so. “Let’s go,” Andrew said. They helped the captain push the skiff into shallow water. The captain got in and took his position at the outboard motor. “You know what? I’ve never been in a boat,” Mokhtar said.

“You’ve never been in a boat like this?” Andrew asked. “Never been in any boat,” Mokhtar said. Mokhtar had grown up in San Francisco, surrounded by water— oceans and bays and rivers, estuaries and lakes. He’d spent years in Yemen, a country with a 12,000-mile coast. But he’d never been in a boat. He’d always wanted to, but the ferries and yachts and sailboats he’d seen throughout his youth seemed part of some unattainable other world. His first experience with any watercraft was going to be in a tiny skiff leaving Yemen in the middle of a civil war. He stepped in and they left the shore. They were carrying the first coffee to leave the port of Mokha in 80 years. After Mokhtar returned from Yemen, American voters elected (or the electoral college made possible)

the presidency of a man who had promised to exclude all Muslims from entering the country—“until we figure out what’s going on.” After his inauguration, one year ago today, Donald Trump made repeated efforts to ban travel to the United States by citizens of seven Muslim-majority nations. On this list was Yemen, a country more misunderstood than perhaps any other. “I hope they have wifi in the camps,” Mokhtar said to me after the election. It was a grim joke making the rounds in the Muslim American community, based on the presumption that Trump will, at the first opportunity—if there is a domestic terror incident perpetrated by a Muslim, for instance—propose the registration or even internment of Muslims in America. When he made the joke, Mokhtar was wearing a T shirt that read Make Coffee, Not War. Mokhtar is both humble before the history he inhabits and irreverent about his place in it. But his story is an old-fashioned one. It’s plainly the story of the American dream, which is very much alive and very much under threat. Mokhtar Alkhanshali represents millions of US citizens who maintain strong ties to the countries of their ancestors and who, through entrepreneurial zeal and dogged labour, create indispensable bridges between the developed and developing worlds, between nations that produce and those that consume. Bridgemakers such as Mokhtar exquisitely and courageously embody America’s reason for being—as a place of radical opportunity and ceaseless welcome. When we forget that this is central to all that is best about America, we forget ourselves—a blended people united not by stasis and cowardice and fear, but by irrational exuberance, by global enterprise on a human scale, by the inherent rightness of pressing forward, always forward, driven by courage unfettered and unyielding. \ Excerpted from THE MONK OF MOKHA by Dave Eggers Copyright © 2018 by Dave Eggers Published by Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of The Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC





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70 • TELLURIDE TURNS Headlines & Highlights from the Local News

Another Round

The Buck gets a remodel and a rooftop By Suzanne Cheavens | Photos by Matt Kroll



n the great scheme of things, the Last Dollar Saloon hasn’t been around that long. It may be a Telluride institution, but “The Buck” has only existed for a sliver of the time that humans have been on the planet. In geological terms, that’s a heartbeat, a single breath, a mere moment. Not very long at all. Still, when the beloved tavern served up its last round of cocktails well before the 2017-18 winter season was over, locals wrung their hands, worried that the ensuing frenzy of gutting, hammering, and sawing would change for the worse their favorite watering hole. The Buck’s owners, Jay Raible, Moussa Konare, and Michael Lee have this to say: Remain calm. The brick building on the southeast corner of East Colorado Avenue and South Pine was built in 1899 by


Lucien Lucius Nunn. It opened its doors as The National Club Saloon and soon became a mining-era hotspot, touted in the Telluride newspaper for its fine liquors and cigars, dancing girls, gambling, and an ongoing billiards tournament. In 1903 the National Club had a telegraph installed to receive boxing results and baseball scores. In November 1906, the National Club installed numerous electric lamps “which made this popular brightly lighted place brighter than ever.” The advent of Prohibition ended the first iteration of what would be become The Buck as we know it. The 1960s was a time in Telluride before skiing, and when the mining industry was hanging on by a thread. Peterson’s Complete Automotive Garage enjoyed a short run in the

building, but by the 1970s (here come the hippies, artists, and seekers!) it housed Forgotten Works commercial stained glass. Enter Michael Chandler, Bill St. Onge, and Billy Nelson (they all still call Telluride home) who opened Hole in the Wall Pizza and served food there for a stint. At last, in the summer of 1978, James Fitzpatrick and James “Catfish” Hunter opened the Last Dollar Saloon. This summer, over the Telluride Bluegrass Festival weekend, The Buck will celebrate its 40th anniversary. While there have been some minor modifications made to the 119-year-old building, this is the first time the old gal will be getting a complete facelift. Through all of April and May, the building has undergone structural work and plumbing and electricity updates. The installation

of an ADA-compliant bathroom, plus loving restoration of the original, pressed tin ceiling and the brickwork, will greet Buck loyalists and visitors when it reopens in mid-summer. Later in the summer, the rooftop bar will be ready to serve up stupendous views along with your adult beverage. The Buck’s triumvirate of owners and visionaries, Jay, Michael, and Moussa, serve up the assurances that these will be changes that are not only necessary, but good. Partners since 2003 when they opened the West End Tavern in the previous Leimgruber’s location on Davis Street and Pacific Avenue, the trio bought the Last Dollar Saloon business from Fitz and Catfish in 2007 and have been slinging drinks there ever since. In a meeting held over—you guessed it—cocktails, Moussa and


Indoor & Outdoor Patio seating ■ Mexican specialties ■ Gluten-free waffles ■ Fresh organic juices ■

“The vibe and the atmosphere will be the same. Our goal has always been to run a place where there’s no cover and everyone’s comfortable— young, old, local, tourist.” Michael exude enthusiasm for the project that will wipe the slate clean and give this Telluride institution the changes that will see it through the next 119 years. And, addressing fears that creeping gentrification will obliterate the Buck’s funky and casual atmosphere, Michael and Moussa stress two things: Change is good, and things will be better than before the remodel. “The Buck will be what you want it to be going forward,” Michael says. “The vibe and the atmosphere will be the same. Our goal has always been to run a place where there’s no cover and everyone’s comfortable— young, old, local, tourist. But it will be a souped-up version of the Buck.” Moussa agrees. “You can change the furniture all you want, but what won’t change is the comfort.” By “souped-up,” Michael means more barstools, electricity and plumbing that is up to date and safe, a TV or two more, a fireplace that will be cleaner and safer, and the much-needed removal of more than a century’s worth of accumulated grime. Still in place will be the jukebox, their winter darts league, and live music. The biggest and perhaps most anticipated addition will be the rooftop bar. Photos from the 1970s show that rooftop cocktailing will not be a first, though this time around, it will be a much safer environment. “The rooftop bar will be a game-changer,”

Moussa says. “It will mean longer hours and a bigger capacity.” The partners have always been open to customer feedback and many of the suggestions—food, rooftop bar, and updated bathrooms—will be delivered. Although the details on the availability of food have not been finalized, a restaurant under different ownership is being built into the south side of the building in the spot once occupied by the stage, walled off from the bar itself. “We’re still batting about ideas,” Michael says. What makes the place warm and inviting are the people who frequent the Buck, and the community they create. To that end, familiar bartenders who know your name and what you drink will resume their duties once the remodel is complete. Travis, Allie, Rob, Chase, Sarah, Josh, Michael, and Moussa will still be behind the bar, with the occasional guest appearance on Fridays from Jay. While the partners have sought to allay the fears of change expressed by their many, longtime regulars, it’s not the customers who will have adjustments to make. “The biggest change is for us,” Moussa explains. “We have to figure out the logistics of running two bars.” In the end, it will still be our Buck. Says Jay: “This old saloon will continue to be run by the people and for the people of Telluride.” \

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72 • TELLURIDE TURNS Headlines & Highlights from the Local News

Indomitable Spirit

Dalton’s latest book celebrates four decades of Mountainfilm By Emily Shoff


eading Susan Dalton’s latest book, Mountainfilm, which marks the festival’s 40th anniversary, is a bit like reading a great high school yearbook. There are photographs and letters, interviews and newspaper clippings, prior festival posters and timelines. Collectively, this book commemorates the lives and work of those who have made this festival what it is today, all while celebrating Telluride. Indeed, this was Dalton’s intent. In the preface, she describes the book as a “souvenir,” a “remembrance of Mountainfilm’s alpinist roots and in memoriam for some of the courageous adventures of the indomitable spirit who were beckoned to the mountains.” One of the most beautiful parts of the book (and there are many) is the foldout timeline of key festival moments. Plotted along a black and white mountain range, the list includes highlights such as the creation of Mountainfilm on Tour and the adrenaline program, as well as the development of numerous awards and grants such as the Charlie Fowler Award, the John Wald Memorial Fund, and the Commitment Grant. The summit of the range is, of course, when Sir Edmund Hillary visited during the 1991 festival. The book also does a fabulous job of portraying the energy and early vision of festival founders Bill Kees and Lito Tejada-Flores when they decided that Telluride was the


perfect town to host a festival on par with some of the mountain culture film festivals they’d seen in Europe. Dalton describes the letters exchanged between the men, with Kees trying unsuccessfully to entice the film producer and star of the legendary climbing film Fitz Roy, until one day, Tejada-Flores showed up on Kees’ doorstep, saying “I’m Lito. Let’s get this film festival thing going.” Kees and Tejada-Flores had already seen the early success of Telluride Film Festival. Since that festival ran over Labor Day weekend, they and other organizers decided on Memorial Day Weekend, as it just seemed fitting that Mountainfilm would open the summer and Film Fest would close it. But as Dalton brilliantly captures, the success of those first early festivals was far from guaranteed. The “staff” was all volunteer-based; the weekend, a mixture of potluck dinners on the Kees’ lawn and films projected on screens that were hand-built by Kees and Tejada-Flores themselves, and at the Sheridan Opera House. Dalton’s desire to create this book stems from her enduring relationship with the festival. She first attended Mountainfilm when she and her family purchased a condo in Telluride in the late 80s. She promptly fell in love with the festival’s spirit and celebration of mountains. It wasn’t until many years later, however, when she became a full-

time resident, that she discovered Mountainfilm’s longevity was threatened by its lack of funds. She went to the then director Arlene Burns to offer her help, and Burns immediately pulled her onto the board. With the help of other committed members, the board was able to unite with part-time Telluride resident Richard Holbrook, who connected them with the Asia Society in New York and helped them to launch two successful fundraisers. “With the money raised there,” Dalton explained, “we were able to hire an executive director, establish a full-time staff, and open a year-round office.” Dalton has created a number of collected histories like these, the first of which chronicled Telluride’s history: A Silver Past, A Golden Future. In that book, she used a mash-up of postcards, letters, old photographs and drawings, stitching the story together with careful essays and interviews. A part-time resident of France, Dalton was inspired by a book on Mageve that was given to her as a gift and which told its history through vintage postcards. In thinking about this latest project, Dalton shifted her approach slightly, placing the stories of the presenters and festival visionaries at the book’s heart. This is clear when you read her interviews with Mountainfilm linchpins such as David Holbrook, Katie Lee, Mike Shimkonis, Wade Davis, and David Breasheers,

people who tell not only the festival’s history, but why it matters. As Holbrook puts it, “[This] isn’t an organization or even a festival, but ultimately a belief system rooted in the idea that not only can we all strive to do more, but we have to, especially in these urgent and dangerous times.” Dalton set herself a tight deadline as she wanted to make sure the book was available in town months before the 2018 event, and she knew from earlier experiences that there can be last-minute printing problems: “My second printing of my Telluride book came without covers or shrink-wraps!” She started the book in March of 2017 and had the files sent to the printer by November. Dalton is quick to acknowledge the many people who helped her to get this project completed on time, including her long-time graphic designer Anthony Kinné, as well as Mountainfilm photographers including Bill Elzey, Ingrid Lundahl, and Melissa Plantz. She is particularly grateful to Denver Public Library who graciously allowed her to use their images once they found out that the book was a fundraiser for the organization. “It is this kind of generosity which defines Mountainfilm.” The book is currently for sale on the Mountainfilm website, at the Between the Covers bookstore, and at the Jagged Edge sports store. The book will also be on sale during the festival at various events and locations. \





Making the Drop Photo by Gus Gusciora


ocal art teacher and skateboarder Craig Wasserman started a popular skateboarding camp many summers ago. Last year, he went all in, opening up his own shop with a ramp in it, selling gear and offering after-school skateboarding and art lessons for kids. Now kids can drop in all winter long, even when the outdoor skateboard parks in town are covered in snow. Wasserman has a philosophy about the sport, the way standing at the preci-

pice of the ramp and dropping in can affect a person, and what skateboarding can teach people about life. “Time after time, we have seen the lessons taught through skateboarding carry over into integral life skills. Because it is difficult to master, skateboarding teaches patience and perseverance, focus and respect,” says Wasserman. He has been a professional educator for more than twenty years, but he says that the best lessons he ever learned were from skateboarding. \

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74 • TELLURIDE TURNS Headlines & Highlights from the Local News

Three Days, One Short Script, and Neil Young Daryl Hannah brings a vision to life By Suzanne Cheavens


aradox is what happens when creative people with a sense of adventure and a long history of activism fall in love and dream up new projects together. Daryl Hannah wrote and directed the film, which debuted at South By Southwest in March. It stars her partner and rock icon Neil Young, Lukas and Micah Nelson (sons of Willie, who has a cameo as a seed bank robber), and a host of familiar faces local audiences will recognize. Charris and Dulcie Clarkson Ford, Hilary Cooper and Maia Coe, Schmoo Shmid, and others dressed in vintage Western garb play their roles against a stunning backdrop of shimmering aspen groves and snowcapped mountains. Shot in both digital and 16mm film, the loose, futuristic narra-


tive follows the antics of a scrappy bunch of cowboys with Young— The Man in the Black Hat—as

their spiritual center. Taciturn and strumming a guitar, he sits away from the rest of the men, whose

activities include mining for artifacts from the past (computer keyboards and cameras), playing games, eating cowboy chow from iron skillets, or visiting the two-holer outhouse with an incredible view. They trade little bagatelles of dialogue (“Smoke a beer, sip a joint,” and “Happy and weed … they go together”) but there are also long periods in which the eye soaks up a series of stunning visual vignettes, cast against Young’s original guitar-based soundtrack. For fans of Neil Young’s music, there are exhilarating scenes of Young and Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real’s ferocious jamming in the rehearsal tent set up on Hannah’s property prior to their electrifying Telluride sets in 2016, as well

THE TELLURIDE The movie stretches traditional storytelling form, dispensing with a linear arc in favor of letting the players explore and improvise.



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as concert footage from their Desert Trip gig in Indio, California. The action drifts from the windy expanse of the mesas outside Telluride, to the tracks of the Durango-Silverton Railroad, to the rehearsal tent, and is interspersed with some glorious shots of the area’s abundant wildlife, Colorado’s stunning night sky, and the undulating terrain surrounding the little clump of rustic buildings that serve as the abandoned stagecoach stop of the film’s primary set. There’s even a dogsled-bearing Young, careening through the snow, and a lovely scene around the campfire in which Lukas Nelson and the band play a tender rendition of his father’s song, “Angel Flying Too Close to The Ground.” The movie stretches traditional storytelling form, dispensing with a linear arc in favor of letting the players explore and improvise. Before the film’s March screening, Hannah and Young were quick to point out that it was never intended to be a serious undertaking. Calling it a “spontaneous venture that popped out of nowhere,” Hannah has created more of a mood piece, a Western pastiche, than a narrative. Local Dulcie Clarkson Ford, who has worked with Hannah for many years, said that the acclaimed actress is bursting with ideas for movies. Ford helped devise a rough script featuring post-apocalyptic miners (the musicians, Neil’s longtime manager Elliot Roberts, and others), and a new civilization in which men and women live separately. Ford plays the leader of the women’s posse. It is a society that places great value on seeds. While the band was acclimating to the altitude in advance of their September shows in Telluride, Hannah incorporated them into the film, letting them pick their characters and riff on their lines. “I loved watching Daryl work,” Ford said. “She was driven by her appreciation for the musicians and her love of nature.”

San Miguel County Commissioner and longtime local environmental activist Hilary Cooper also has her moment on the big screen. Clad in a prairie dress and gazing watchfully down the barrel of a long gun, she and the women and children arrive in a glittering, chrome bus. They bring produce and steely beauty, turning down the hopeful men, and sending Hilary’s daughter, Maia Coe, to scamper off in search of Young, who hands over a huge sack of the sacred seeds he and Willie Nelson robbed from a seed bank. “The vibe during the few days of shooting was wonderfully tribal,” Cooper said. “It was easy for most everyone to be in character because the setting itself created a sense of being lost in time. Neil and Promise of the Real have a very relaxed and genuine family vibe so there was a deep sense of love and respect in the air.” Maia’s scene was effortless for everyone save for the cameraman. “Maia aced her scene in one take, which was a good thing because the cameraman from low elevation had a hard time keeping up with her,” Hilary laughed. “And Neil is naturally a loving dad so having a kiss from her was no big deal for either one of them.” Ford and Cooper agree that the children in the film had fun sharing in Hannah’s vision. Cooper said that the plot inspired some interesting discussions with the kids. “They may not have been able to follow the whole story, but the importance of the seeds was something they fully understand and ultimately something we should all understand.” Paradox is a celebration of Hannah’s love of nature and music and the importance of seed stewardship. By the time the credits roll, seeds are no doubt planted in the viewer’s mind. For the cast and crew, it was a celebration of the tribe. “The story has been a dream of Daryl’s for many years,” Cooper said. “The sense of a dream come true is always an awesome feeling for everyone involved.” Paradox is a Netflix exclusive. \

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76 • TELLURIDE TURNS Headlines & Highlights from the Local News

Team Telluride

Three local athletes competed in the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in South Korea


elluride isn’t known for its TV watching, but during this winter’s Olympic Games, the whole town was tuned in, convening in bars and restaurants, streaming the events at home, and sharing results on social media. Everyone was excited to watch the three local athletes—Gus Kenworthy, Keaton McCargo, and Hagen Kearney—compete. Kenworthy stunned the town when he won the silver medal in slopestyle at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, the inaugural year for the event’s inclusion in the games. This winter, he suffered an injury before his final slopestyle runs and ended up in twelfth place, but he is still a media darling. Kenworthy came out publicly after his win in Sochi and was the first openly gay athlete in his discipline, appearing on television, making headlines, and gracing the covers of magazines. He has used his celebrity to become an LGBTQ advocate. Kenworthy plans to keep skiing, but he’s not sure how long he’ll stay on the competition circuit; he already has multiple medals in the X Games in slopestyle, superpipe, and big air events and finished this season as the top ranked AFP freeskier in the world—but the next winter Olympic Games aren’t until 2022. “The buildup to the Olympics was pretty overwhelming and I’ve been taking a little break since I competed in Korea. I actually haven’t been on snow


once since that day. Next season I’m planning on competing in the Dew Tour, the X Games, and maybe World Championships, if I’m one of the four that the U.S. sends, but will probably just leave it at those three competitions which is a big step back from the ten or so that I usually compete in during a season. I haven’t decided if I’m going to try and make another Olympics but considering the selection process doesn’t start till a year or so out from the games, I think I’ve still got a decent amount of time to make that call.” McCargo took eighth place in freestyle moguls at the Olympics in Pyeongchang. The 22-year-old skied beautifully and was in third place on

her first qualifying run in the finals, but a slight bobble in her second run kept her off the podium. “Obviously, the Olympics were amazing. The best part of the whole experience was having my family there to support me along with my childhood best friend, Frances Cordova Rogers,” says McCargo. After Pyeongchang, she immediately left for a World Cup event in Japan, placing third after qualifying in first place in both preliminary rounds, and after a few more World Cup races ended up eighth in the world. Then she capped her season off by winning the 2018 National Championships in New Hampshire. It was her second National Championship title—she also took the crown in 2016.

“The stress and hype of the Olympics was over and the rest of the tour was more about skiing my best and having fun. I didn’t achieve the result I wanted at the Olympics so I guess I just wanted to make up for that and prove to myself that I could do it.” McCargo is back in Utah since the season ended, figuring out what her next steps will be. Kearney made it to the quarterfinals in the snowboard cross event, ending up thirteenth overall. Kearney finished the 2017/18 season ranked eleventh in the World Cup for snowboard cross, after finishing fifth in the 2016/17 season. A longhaired, motorcycle riding, guitar playing snowboarder/skateboarder, Kearney says that the Olympics were an incredible experience and that he plans to keep pursuing all the things he loves. “My Olympic experience was overwhelming and amazing at the same time. Walking into the opening ceremonies was the most surreal thing I’ve ever been a part of. It was the best experience ever because now I know what it’s like to feed off of the energy of the American people who are all rooting for you. Since the Olympics, I have just been free riding a lot and focusing on music and my band in Salt Lake City.” Tune in again next winter to see what these elite athletes are doing— updates will be available on our website at \

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s a freelance journalist trying to limit my 25-minute commute into Telluride to a single, daily round-trip, I’ve often wished for a quiet spot with fast and reliable Wi-Fi and no obligation to buy unwanted coffee when I’m working on a story. Sure, libraries and cafés can do, but on a tight deadline I’d rather not have my flow interrupted by background cell phone monologues or blenders buzzing at jet-engine velocity. Fortunately, for others in Telluride who want the same without investing in a private office, there’s a new coworking space upstairs in the Roma Building at 135 East Colorado Ave. called Telluride Works. There, an expansive open plan office in dark gray and red welcomes freelancers, entrepreneurs, and other independent professionals in a serene setting where they remain delightfully distanced from loud talkers, slothful bandwidth, and unproductive café camping. The space, accessible with a monthly membership and a smartphone app that unlocks the door, is just the latest addition to the mushrooming number of shared workspaces springing up everywhere from rural communities to cities around the world. In them, members


COWORKING TAKES OFF IN TELLURIDE AND DURANGO Telluride Works and R Space meet changing workforce needs By Karen Toepfer James

erally share access to desk space, conference rooms, hi-speed Internet, office supplies, and minimalist kitchen facilities for a fraction of the cost of a private office.

The model is so popular that industry forecasters anticipate it will experience double-digit annual growth over the next four years, resulting in more than 30,000 spaces

attended by more than five million members worldwide by 2022. Moreover, researchers have found that people working in shared spaces say they are thriving—that is, going beyond being productive and satisfied to being engaged in creating the future—at higher levels than employees in regular offices, reported the Harvard Business Review. Digging deeper, the scholars found that the difference is attributable to three factors: coworking space users see their work as meaningful; feel they have more control over that work; and feel like they are part of a community, in ways traditional office workers don’t. Here on the Western Slope, Montrose-based Proximity Space is leading the phenomenon. In addition to operating its own spaces in Grand Junction, Montrose, and Ridgway, it also licenses proprietary space management software and hardware tools to a host of Proximity network members. Telluride Works, which opened this past April, belongs to the network, as do spaces in Crested Butte, Delta, Gunnison, Naturita, and Paonia. Members belonging to spaces in the Proximity network can also use other network spaces up to three times per month for free.

A Telluride Works membership is $200 a month for a floating (unassigned) desk, and $350 a month for a fixed (assigned) desk – assuming you can get one, that is. The price includes 24/7 access, use of a twelve-person conference room with standard conferencing technology, use of two soundproof phone booths, and all the coffee you can handle. According to its de facto community manager Ashley Nager, demand is so high that its 13 fixed desks were spoken for before the proverbial paint dried. Floating memberships are still available, as are daily drop-ins for $19, so anyone interested in joining the community of working professionals should feel free to inquire on-site. Considering how often Telluriders travel, Telluride Works members should be especially happy to know they can also tap into their reciprocal benefits in Durango at R Space at the Rochester, which opened last fall. Connected with the family-owned historic Leland House and Rochester Hotels, R Space, at 734 East 2nd Ave., offers seats at wide planked wooden tables in an ivory toned workspace that strives to feel both professional and homey. Members there have access to eight

The model is so popular that industry forecasters anticipate it will experience double-digit annual growth over the next four years, resulting in more than 30,000 spaces attended by more than five million members worldwide by 2022.

meeting rooms that can accommodate up to twenty-five people, and what co-founder/co-operator Tomas German-Palacios assures me is, with one Gbps data transfer capacity, the fastest internet in Durango. R Space membership also comes with access to perks including complimentary baked goods and other snacks, discounted hotel room rates, a leadership lending library, dry cleaning pickup, social and training events, and even the use of cruiser bikes. Memberships run from $30 for a one-day drop-in to $250 a month for 24/7 access. In between, a range of options fit any need or budget, and all come with generous R Bucks credits that may be used to rent meeting rooms, and buy breakfast and cocktails at the Rochester Hotel, or items from the R Space gift shop. It’s a brave new workforce world and going forward more and more of us will be untethered to traditional job functions and settings. Luckily, in Telluride, Durango, and throughout the Western Slope, new communal workspaces are popping up to meet the demand generated by our changing employment roles and needs. \

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82 • ESSAY


Navigating the private and public places in the Southwest


By Craig Childs

ifferent kinds of land have different tenors, not just the shape and smell, but who owns the ground, what you are allowed to do on it, and where you should not be. Above the layers of geology, wooded canyons, and far-flung desert is the brushstroke of us.

On reservation land, there are places outsiders should never go alone. With a Navajo archaeologist I’ve seen butte top ruins and abandoned pueblos, pottery flecked on the ground, black-painted whitefired clay, thousand-year-old art of negative spaces: a spiral, a geometric thunderhead, and long-lines of cobalt-colored pigment as if painted with a ruler. I’ve gone with permits in hand, a conversation in a hogan, or a wave to a hunter with a .22 rifle. You’ll need permission, permits from Window Rock or White River. A time or two on reservations, I had no permission, out for a walk with a pack and gear overnight, to see what I could see. Those were unwise journeys, nights fraught with paranoia. I learned it is best to seek permission. Asking forgiveness from people with bloodlines and languages going back thousands of years in a place is not easier than seeking permission. Recently I crossed a stretch of Ute land in a car, followed by a couple Suburbans filled with my students from a course on writing and responding to landscape. Many were from far away, a girl from Melbourne, an East-Indian woman from London,

another East-Indian woman from Chicago, a guy with cameras freshly moved out here from the Midwest. The road was dirt, climbing toward Bears Ears in Utah, the stretch of Ute land a cherry stem. A few Native guys were pulled over with a couple pickups and chain saws, getting that good, hard piñon wood and clean-burning juniper, the ground around them hairy with juniper hides. Their trucks were half loaded, day half done. Within half a mile we were back on county land, public more or less. When we got out at a vantage I particularly like, a long chessboard of sandstone hoodoos the color of salmon flesh, questions came from many. They’d seen the signs saying we were entering Ute Reservation land, and the bright, battered, “no trespassing” signs on trees and fence posts. Did we have permission to cross reservation land? Should we have a Native guide? Should there be an offering, and if so, what? Tobacco, a crossing of twigs, or prayers? One woman said, “What does it mean to ask permission if you are not ready to hear ‘no?’” You are allowed to drive through the reservation, I said. Those woodcutters aren’t concerned with us. If you get to a closed gate, however, that’s where you ought not pass.


rivate land is not my favorite category, though I’ve been glad to own my own chunks of land where I could live and raise my children. It crashes against the Rockies like a tsunami from the east, private land gathering on the plains.

Trespassing signs are ducked under in a steep draw, or crossed catching the crotch of your pants on a barb. Best not to, though. Like reservation land, you want permission. I came around a canyon bend in the forks of the Gila and a man emerged from his ranch house with a rifle, a weapon that he set down as soon as he saw it was us. We knew the combination lock to get in. If we’d been unknown, a pack of strangers hauling camping gear on our backs across his land, we would have met the end of the rifle. I was out with my gal tracking dirt roads in the West End, the far side of Montrose County. When the turn came up that would take us into canyons feathering down from the east side of the La Sal Mountains, it was gate and chains and no trespassing signs. She kept saying, you can’t do that, you can’t do that. I said yes, you can. It’s an issue around here, private land blocking off roads to public lands, a fight that never ends. She and I had run into this before, driving a rough dirt road around the flanks of Lone Cone when we came to a trail of warning signs, private land ahead, and a gate closed and locked, an incremental parcel not letting us get back to the dirt road from Norwood to Dolores. She grew up out East, and when she came here at 26 she was flabbergasted by the scale of the land, its starkness, everything few and far between. Like me, she became spoiled on the unfettered access out here, annoyed at the thought of a padlock, that anyone could own this

land, or at least the way into it. When we moved in together, she came with 36-inch bolt cutters.


ublic lands are my heart’s desire. Though I defer to reservations and puzzle over private inholdings, the vast, open spaces make us what we are. If we hardly enter them, if we see them out windshields and do not get off the highway onto their mazes of dirt roads and line-dotted trails, we still know they are there. We feel them. Stand in the middle of Telluride at night when all is quiet, and the weight you sense, the silence deeper than silence, is the mountains rising around you, mountains owned by no one. Public lands give the West a sky you can walk beneath. These places are kept out of private hands, owned by all the people, in practice as sticky as it sounds. In theory, and in fact, this side of North America is one of the rarest things in the world: land not eaten up and blocked off by private parties. While human populations spread and seethe, this may be the greatest resource we are left with: places that belong to themselves. For however messy it is, waving back and forth to the whims of presidents and money tunnels of lobbyists, fought over for energy needs and water demands and ski resorts, this side of the country has remained powerful and precious because it is mostly untrammeled. Parks, monuments, BLM, Forest Service, and arrays of wildlife refuges and county properties ensure a future we’d otherwise devour. I was out with one of my kids backpacking across a stretch of the

Uncompahgre Plateau when we came to a fence. The way we often travel together, we don’t carry maps or follow trails. We feel our way along, half lost, half found. This way of moving is not disorienting, but more oriented than you might ever feel. For directions, we watched shadows and the growth of moss down slopes. That morning we’d come into a number of cabins and decrepit campers up on blocks. We’d hit an old subdivision. No one was home, two tracks grown over. It felt like the publicness of the land around it was closing back in, porches and driveways moldering back to the ground. This is why I cringe when legislators and lobbyists chant about privatizing our public lands. There should be more, not less. The motivations and promises of private land owners will change over decades and centuries. We will lose the true wealth of these places. Though we drill and dig and crowd parts of public lands with cows, rafts, four-wheelers, climbers, and backpackers crabbing around their little stoves, they remain places of choice. When my son and I reached the fence and climbed over, we found no-trespassing signs on the other side. Where we’d slept last night, where we’d gathered water and listened to a bull elk cracking through the underbrush above our camp, had been someone’s property. Jumping to the other side, touching down on Forest Service land, felt like coming home. We brushed off the fence and kept walking into the wilderness, happily vanishing into veils of land. \



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Rainforest of the Rockies Monsoon season in the San Juan Mountains

By Deanna Drew | Photos By Melissa Plantz


ou’ve seen it before. It’s summertime in downtown Telluride at happy hour, and you and your friends are waiting out the downpour at a favorite watering hole. Suddenly the rain stops and everyone flows into the streets to take in the spectacular display of light and color glowing in the late afternoon sky, punctuated by an ephemeral double rainbow perched over the valley, perfectly framing the town. While “Rainbow Over Main Street” may be a common sight to locals and a memorable experience for guests, most do not realize that these events are part of a climatic phenomenon unique to our region called the North American Monsoon. The North American Monsoon occurs when cool, moisture-laden air from the eastern Pacific Ocean and Gulf of California is blown northward by high easterly winds and meets with low pressure, hot dry air in the desert regions of northwestern Mexico and southwestern United States. The difference in air temperatures causes


a shift in wind direction, bringing significant rainfall to Mexico and interior parts of the southwest U.S.— including southern Colorado and the San Juan Mountains. This large-scale seasonal circulation pattern is characterized by thunderstorms and heavy rainstorms, which at high elevations build in the afternoon and pass by evening, with the next morning starting out fair and the cycle repeating daily. Onset of the monsoon is abrupt, with weather changing quickly from relatively hot and dry conditions to cool, rainy ones as the wet ocean air arrives from

water bodies to the south. The rains originate over southern Mexico in early June, then spread northward and arrive in the southwest U.S. by early July, where they persist over the Four Corners region until the storms’ energy dissipates in mid-September. The North American Monsoon is similar to—but less intense than— monsoons that occur in other parts of the world, and the weather pattern is critical to water supply and agriculture in the low-lying regions of Mexico and the southwest desert where winter precipitation is minimal. At the monsoon’s core, along the west

coast of Mexico, these seasonal rains alone provide up to 75 percent of the region’s annual precipitation. But in the rugged San Juan Mountains, which have some of the highest summits in the state with twenty-eight peaks above 13,000 feet and thirteen Fourteeners, the situation is reversed. Here, the abundant snowmelt provides about two-thirds of our water and the monsoon about one-third, with the summer storms replenishing groundwater systems and dampening soils to sustain relatively wet forest conditions for most of the year, unlike mountains in the rest of the Rockies. The lush

mountainous terrain, wet meadows and marshy wetlands characteristic of the San Juan Mountains are unique environmental conditions, which also support a special proliferation of ancient, high-elevation ecosystems called fens. Soil in fens is perennially saturated with water, so decomposition occurs very slowly and rich, organic peat accumulates over time. According to a scientific survey by Mountain Studies Institute (MSI) of Silverton, Colorado, over 2,000 fens exist in the San Juan Mountains, most of them thousands of years old with peat up to three meters thick. These high-quality wetlands are important because they sequester atmospheric carbon dioxide, filter water and regulate water flow, and support high biodiversity including rare and endemic plant species whose main populations exist in the boreal forests of Alaska and Canada. “In order to maintain healthy fens, there needs to be a high water table and constant water supply,” explains Rory Cowie,

PhD, senior scientist and hydrologist at MSI. “Therefore the regular monsoon cycles are very important for San Juan fens to maintain groundwater throughout summer.” Because of the close proximity to southwest monsoons, fens have existed in high elevations of the San Juan Mountains for millennia. And, MSI reports, the majority of fens identified by the survey remain in good to excellent condition. However, these sensitive ecosystems are vulnerable to development activities such as dredging and filling that disturb their constant flow of groundwater, decrease their functionality, and dry them up over time. “You can’t build a fen,” says Cowie. “It takes thousands of years for the soils in fens to develop.” The MSI study suggests hundreds of the San Juan fens are in need of restoration due to impacts from mining, grazing, roads, and other development activities that alter a fen’s hydrology. Mitigating these disturbances to fen ecosystems can be very difficult and

expensive, and according to the institute it is best to be proactive and prevent them from being degraded. In 2000, Telluride resident and retired forester Phil Miller discovered several ancient mountain fens within an area targeted for ski area expansion in Prospect Basin. Due to a collaborative effort between the ski resort, local environmental groups, government agencies, academia, and private citizens, the Prospect Basin fens were successfully avoided during ski run construction. Prospect Basin is now being studied as a model for protection of high altitude mountain fens around the world. Fen peatlands cover only about 3 percent of the earth’s surface, but contain nearly 50 percent of carbon in the atmosphere. Although these resilient ecosystems have survived since the Ice Age, scientists have only recently started considering how climate change will affect mountain fens. Researchers predict that rising temperatures and reductions in snowpack will adversely affect the

hydrology of mountain fens in the southern Rockies, resulting in lower water levels and decreased productivity—including carbon storage— especially in low-elevation regions. The biggest question on everyone’s mind this summer is how wet this monsoon season will be. Scientific observation indicates that winter snow and summer monsoon patterns are related—historically, here in the southwest, wet summer monsoons tend to follow dry winters, and vice versa. This 2017-2018 winter in Telluride was the driest in over forty years, with less than half of the average amount of snow falling in the San Juans. But it is too soon to tell if this summer’s monsoon will pack enough punch to alleviate the region’s dry conditions and help stave off inevitable wildfires in the southwest. “We are in extreme drought and the meager snowpack this winter made it worse, leaving our forests dry and our rivers running low,” Cowie says. “Hopefully, the rains will come.” \



88 • FILM

RETELLING THE BATTLE OF ASPEN New film traces Hunter S. Thompson’s bid for county sheriff By D. Dion


ny film made about legendary journalist Hunter S. Thompson is sure to have some success, whether it’s a box-office hit or relegated to the cult classics queue in Netflix to be streamed by his tribe of devotees. Several films have already been made about the literary figure, but Freak Power, set to film in Colorado this summer and fall, is a more nuanced account of Thompson’s brief stint in local Aspen politics.

Bobby Kennedy III, grandson of Robert F. Kennedy and Freak Power writer and filmmaker, knew Hunter S. Thompson as a child. He laughs as he recounts how much the writer loved to entertain and rattle people. One time, Thompson kicked over a couch in his living room and had the kids shoot at aluminum targets from behind it and try to avoid explosives he had attached to the wall. Kennedy says he was weeping, praying that they wouldn’t miss. “He scared the hell out of me a couple of times. He loved to push our buttons.” As an adult, Kennedy became interested in Thompson’s canon and says he went through a “Hunter phase” like many young adults and read all his books. Thompson started the literary genre called Gonzo


nalism, where the narrator/reporter becomes a part of the story. Thompson embraced this style of reportage and created his own fictional alterego, Raoul Duke, who became the voice in his famous Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72, and several newspaper and magazine essays. Raoul Duke represented a side of the writer, the constant drinking and drug use and recklessness, that became the caricature of Thompson himself. Kennedy was most intrigued by a lesser-known period of the writer’s life in 1969 and 1970. This was after Thompson wrote Hell’s Angels and before his Fear and Loathing books had propelled him to fame. On the cusp of becoming a counter-culture celebrity, Thompson was living in

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90 • FILM

Woody Creek near Aspen and was broke. The IRS had sent him notice to forfeit his property, which was bordered by a slag heap of mining waste, says Kennedy. He was frustrated by the establishment politicians and decided to run his own candidate for mayor of Aspen, a non-conformist local lawyer named Joe Edward. Thompson chronicled Edward’s unsuccessful bid in a Rolling Stone article titled “The Battle of Aspen.” Thompson also outlined an alternative, third-party platform called Freak Power, which he subsequently ran on during his own bid to become Pitkin County sheriff the following year in 1970.


Freak Power was so named because it was meant to empower the “freaks” —the bikers, the dropouts, the drug users, or anyone living an unconventional lifestyle that was disenfranchised by the Republicans and Democrats. The platform was radical: jackhammering all city streets so that only foot and bicycle traffic could pass, changing the name of the city from Aspen to Fat City, punishing dishonest drug dealers by bastinado (foot caning), and—perhaps most prescient—disarming all law enforcement officers. Thompson was defeated in the election, but the narrative of the events and the powerful ideas he posited are the subject of Kennedy’s screenplay. “It’s

extremely relevant to what’s going on at the national level,” says Kennedy. “He created a third party and he almost won, but Democrats and Republicans got together to fight him because they were scared of change. A third party is viable, and having Hunter to guide us through the narrative is ideal.” Kennedy says that having Thompson as the central figure in the story is just the “hook,” and that the plot has a lot of themes that will resonate with today’s audiences. The plotline includes an environmental aspect, which syncs up with the recent mining waste spill into the Animas River flowing through Silverton, where much of the film will be shot this summer. Thompson’s idea of disarming law enforcement also has modern-day implications. “I tend to trust my local sheriff,” says Kennedy, who has a good relationship with Bruce Conrad, the county sheriff in San Juan County and his liaison in Silverton for the filming. “Everywhere is different, but the militarization of the police force is unnerving.” A major theme in the film is the notion that change starts on the local level and getting involved in local politics is a good way to make things happen. Thompson believed that his populist ideals were not just a local movement but a reflection of a broader sentiment in America. And despite Kennedy’s political pedigree, this idea was what grabbed him—the concept of a grassroots movement outside of established politics and parties. He says he hopes the film invigorates people to become active in local politics, inspiring them to believe in their own power. “I’m just trying to throw a wrench in the 2020 elections. The overlaps with the next presidential election are unignorable. Strangely, this movie might predict it all.” Unlike his famous family members, Kennedy is not a politician. He’s an established filmmaker, although he only calls himself a “storyteller.” His film credits include AmeriQua, a screenplay he wrote and starred in aside Alec Baldwin, as well as several documentaries. A ski bum at heart, Kennedy petitioned the Colorado Economic Development Commission for a rebate/grant for the production of Freak Power—which he received—and he looks forward to being in Silverton this summer, since his only visit there was to ski its steep slopes. When we spoke this spring, he asked about my trip to Baja, saying he was excited to take his VW bus down to check out the surfing and landscape. He has a perfect mix of youthful, earnest energy along with the experience and intellect to start his own grassroots fire. Kennedy’s past work as a documentarian has informed this project. He says his interest is in portraying the real Hunter S. Thompson, not the larger-than-life persona and not Raoul Duke, but the actual journalist who “was more of a thinker than a drinker,” according to Kennedy. “I’m glad to get the chance to share some of his wisdom with the movie-going crowd. I’ve written other scripts and documentaries, but this story just seemed to call out. There are so many hilarious incidences that took place during the campaign. Truth is stranger than fiction times fifty.” Kennedy’s still not sure who will be cast as Hunter S. Thompson; the role has been reprised before by Bill Murray and Johnny Depp, and he has a decent list of hopefuls. Freak Power has been picked up by Sony for production, and he’ll work alongside Stephen Nemeth, who also produced Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Ultimately, says Kennedy, the schedule will be dictated by the actors they choose, but he hopes to have the film in play in 2019. \



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92 • INDEX

COLOR BY NUMBERS SCHOOL SHOOTINGS Since Sandy Hook in December 2012, at least 439 people have been

SCOBY SALES Wholesale revenues of kombucha in the United States in 2016 topped

shot in 273 school shootings, and

112 people were killed.

$534 million, and the global market is valued at $747 billion.



Public lands in the U.S. cover almost

The average annual snowfall in

1 million square miles, or over 618 million acres, more than 25 percent of the land in the country.

175 inches and the average annual rainfall is 23.38 inches.

Telluride is

August is typically the wettest month, averaging 2.91 inches.

CLUBS AND BOARDS There are 23.82 million golfers,

11.8 million downhill skiers, 7.6 million snowboarders, and 5.1 million XC skiers in the United States.


ARTIST AND ACTIVIST Neil Young has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

2 times; in 1995 as a solo artist, and in 1997 as a member of Buffalo Springfield.

RAOUL DUKE Hunter S. Thompson lost the

1970 race for Pitkin County Sheriff; he received 173 votes to his opponent’s 204.

MUSICAL MINDS Children involved in music score

7.2 points higher on I.Q. tests, 57 points higher on the verbal section of the SAT, and 41 points higher on the math section of the SAT. Kids in kindergarten through 3rd have 22% higher math scores if they are involved in a music program.

ON DECK The number of skateboarders in the United States was 10.13 million in 2006,


and in 2016 it was 6.44 million.

Skateboarding will debut at the 2020 Olympic Games in Japan.

The youngest marathon runner, Budhia Singh, started training at age


and completed 48 marathons by the age of 5. The oldest, Fauja Singh, ran the 2011 Toronto marathon at age 100.

Sources: Axios, The Atlantic, American Psychological Association, Music Educators National Conference, The Wilderness Society, Snowsports Industry of America, Statista, U.S. climate data, University of British Columbia, Marathon Training Schedule, Wikipedia






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