Telluride Magazine winter/spring 2018-19

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4.95 | priceless in Telluride





Three Buying Options / 37 to 84 Acres Parcels A-1, A-2, A-3 - Specie Mesa Priced from $575,000 to $1,075,000

4 Beds / 4.5 Baths / Ski Access Aspen Ridge Unit 17 - Mountain Village $2,190,000



3 Beds / 60+ Acres / Pond 45078 West Fork Road - Dolores $1,850,000

4 Beds / 56.9 Acres / Pond 192 Top of the World - Specie Mesa $2,812,000


1.89 Acres / Prepaid Building Permit Lot 101 Basque Blvd - Aldasoro Ranch $630,000


4 Beds / 4.5 Baths / Private Elevator Belvedere Park Unit 9 - Mountain Village $2,195,000

Te l l u r i d e A r e a Re a l E s t a t e . c o m

CIECIUCH [ Chet-chu ] Hearing you and fulfilling your needs since 1987.




4 Beds / 5 Baths / 3,589 s.f. 121 N Spruce Street - Telluride $4,880,000

321 Acres / 13 Beds / 1+ Mile River Frontage Red Rock River Ranch - Dolores River $10,300,000

7 Beds / 1.97 Acres / Ski Access 133 Victoria Drive - Mountain Village $7,595,000

3 6 0 ° V IEW S



4.29 Acres / Incredible Views / Perched Site Lot 73 Josefa Lane - Aldasoro Ranch $675,000

4 Beds / 4,216 s.f. / Corner Lot 301 N Oak Street - Telluride $5,675,000

4 Beds / 4.5 Baths / 3 Car Garage 307 Basque Boulevard - Aldasoro Ranch $2,995,000


Director | 970.708.2338 237 South Oak Street @ the Telluride Gondola

10 1 PA L M Y R A .COM

5 6 8 3 LAS T DO LLAR.C O M

5 Beds / 5.5 Baths / 4,946 s.f. Mountain Village $3,759,000

36.14 Acres / Enormous Views Telluride $1,290,000

14 1 5 T ROU T L A KE. COM


3 Beds / 3 Baths / 3,262 s.f. Trout Lake $1,200,000

3 Beds / 3.5 Baths / 2,585 s.f. Mountain Village $2,249,000

108GO LDHILLC OURT.COM 6 Beds / 6.5 Baths / 6,468 s.f. Mountain Village $4,977,000

187S ANJO AQU IN .COM 8 Beds / 7+ Baths / 7,881 s.f. Mountain Village $4,900,000

Te l l u r i d e A r e a H o m e s . c o m

Live The G o o d L i f e

G OL DCREEKT ELLURIDE.CO M 115 Sublime Acres, 5 Artisan Structures, Sparkling Springs, Creek, Pond, Meadows, & National Forest. 1451-1455 Alta Lakes Road, Alta Lakes

1 27NO RT HO AK.CO M Historical Elegance Blends Seamlessly with Modern Luxury. 6 Bedrooms / 3++ Baths / 3,384 s.f. 127 North Oak Street, Telluride $20,000,000 (Price includes both 127 N. Oak St. & Gold Creek Ranch)

Ready When You Are. SHIMKONIS PARTNERS Personal Touch, Expertly Crafted Mike Shimkonis, Director I 970.708.2157 I Asa Van Gelder, Broker Associate & Appraiser I 970.708.1220 I

Which Bottle Works for You? Telluride’s finest selection of wine, beer and spirits.

The Local Store

Best selection and prices in the entire area Featuring highly allocated wines that you won’t find elsewhere. We have everything you will need for your event.

FREE DELIVERY ANY DAY OF THE WEEK! (970) 728-5553 • 129 West San Juan Ave • Telluride • Hours: Mon – Sat 10am to 10pm & Sun 10am to 8pm

Market Leaders Since 1986


Historic home on a large lot with big views. Has approved plans for a 3,600 s.f. remodel. 321 N. Willow St. - Telluride $1,650,000



Private 2.77 acres nestled in the aspen with great mountain & mesa views. 105 W. Serapio - Aldasoro $595,000

Sitting high on the hillside, this sunny 4-bed home takes in beautiful sunsets with easy access to skiing and downtown. 970 Primrose Lane - Telluride $2,500,000


Beautiful square cut log home on 69 acres with stunning views & all day sun. 509 Elam Point Dr. - Hastings $1,750,000


1.34 acres with end-of-road privacy. A 6-bed/5.5-bath home overlooks the golf course with massive mountain views. 99 Pennington Place - Mountain Village $4,700,000


Seasoned Broker | 970.708.2148 I 237 South Oak Street @ the Telluride Gondola

Michael J. Ward, GRI Lynn K. Ward 970.708.0932 • 970.708.0968

histoRic Mountain daiRy Ranch, ouR ay

3362 Ranch Road, Ridgway

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.

Incredible opportunity to own a spectacular ranch in San Juan Ranch near Ridgway and Telluride. This property offers 110.51 acres and includes a 1,143 square foot fully furnished two bedroom, two full bath guest home built in 2012 with a garage and storage for two four-wheelers which are included. Nearly two miles of off-road trails have been built providing lots of off-road fun! The property contains stands of old-growth aspen, a natural rock quarry, and seasonal water. A larger main home can be built.



207 E ast g REgoRy , t ElluRidE

l ot 20R , a ldasoRo , t ElluRidE

559 w Est c uRtis d RivE , t ElluRidE

Two spectacular parcels totalling 5,000 sf, this property has commanding views of Bear Creek, the ski area, and the Town of Telluride. Because an existing structure straddles the lot line, the lot line may be vacated allowing for the construction of a single home. This provides tremendous flexibility for development as one larger home, or two smaller homes can be built. Water and sewer are currently provided to the cabin, so there are no tap fees for a house up to 2,500 sf.

One of the best lots in Aldasoro, located on Aldasoro Boulevard, with spectacular panoramic views from the Wilsons to the Ski Area. Aldasoro enjoys all day sun making it the perfect place to build your dream home. Just minutes to Telluride, Mountain Village and the ski area, this 2.80 acre lot offers a gently sloping homesite nestled amongst an aspen grove on a knolltop providing unparalled views. Dogs are now allowed in Aldasoro! Don’t miss this spectaclar opportunity!

Lot 23A, 559 West Curtis Drive, is a spectacular 2,521 square foot lot located on the sunny side of town with amazing views of Bear Creek and the ski area. The purchase includes HARC approved full construction plans for a four-bedroom, three and one-half bath, 3,062 square foot home (SF includes a two-car garage and 241 sf of decks). Plans and engineering are building permit ready. It is located near the end of West Curtis Drive with little traffic providing privacy.




L egacy H omes Value Creation is Taking the Long View

Moody Residence

Luke TrujiLLo

aia 970-708-1445

Whit RichardsonŠ

Find Your Happy Place in Telluride Our website is a great place to start looking 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.

Pictured: 184 Country Club Drive - Mountain Village

970.728.0808 I 237 S. Oak St. in Telluride I 560 Mtn Village Blvd. in Mountain Village




tellurideyogacenter Be sure to visit the BINDU • BOUTIQUE located in the studio

12th Annual

July 27 - 30, 2019


201 W. Colorado Ave. Ste. 200 Upstairs in the Nugget Bldg schedule at: (970) 729-1673 DROP-INS WELCOME WE OFFER MANY STYLES AND LEVELS


Th e S e r v i c e & E x p e r t i s e Yo u D e s e r v e .



Enjoy ski access & convenience to the gondola from this 5-bed residence with fantastic views & a private setting next to open space. 123 San Joaquin Rd. - Mountain Village $4,300,000

This 1.22-acre lot with 200 ft of river frontage is a rare find, just minutes from town with sweeping views mountain & valley views. Lot P3 - Idarado $1,650,000



Sophisticated stone & timberframe residence privately tucked into the pines with 5 beds, high-end finishes, caretaker unit, & ski access. 207 Wilson Peak Dr. - Mountain Village $2,985,000

Wall-to-wall glass showcases sweeping views of the Telluride Valley from this updated 2-bedroom condo. 131 Nimbus Dr. 5B - Last Dollar $635,000


Broker Associate | 970.708.2447 I 237 South Oak Street

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:







The Butcher & The Baker is a locally owned and operated bakery and café specializing in handcrafted, fresh and local cuisine. We feature handmade breads and artisan pastries, fresh salads composed of local greens, fruit and vegetables, locally sourced house-roasted meats, cheeses, handmade sausages, and sustainably harvested fish. Our bar carries Colorado breweries on tap, locally crafted small-batch spirits and an assortment of organic and biodynamic wines.

NOW SERVING DINNER! GREAT HAPPY HOUR SPECIALS. 970.728.2899 • 201 E Colorado Ave • Hours: Sunday - Brunch 8am-2pm • Monday - Saturday: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner 7am-8pm



16 • WINTER/SPRING 2018-2019




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


Free of Gluten, Full of Flavor

28 MOUNTAIN HEALTH Amazonian Frog Poison


Athletic advice from our mountain guru


Downlow goes Digital




Snow Globe

Maybe this is all a dream… By Michelle Curry Wright


Wing and a Prayer

How Helitrax got off the ground By D. Dion


Mountain Village Comes of Age 23-year-old town to get a makeover By Deanna Drew


Puppy Love

Meet Quill, the newest Telluride avalanche dog

History: Cities in the Sky

Life at Telluride’s high country boarding houses By Paul O’Rourke



Hide and Seek by Danielle Lazarin, How It Is by Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer


Hilaree Nelson skis Lhotse, Community leaders honored, Boutique flight service in Telluride, Seth Cagin’s run for state House of Representatives


Call Me Ed: 1991 Sir Edmund Hillary interview

78 INNOVATION By Martinique Davis


Meet Emil Sante, Heidi Attenberger, and Jason Gordon

Sharing the Space: Depot to house multiple science programs


Hares of a Different Color: Climate change forces animals to adapt


Small Steps, Big Strides: Telluride’s transition to green energy


Local books, authors, and subjects

The Encounter


By Craig Childs


Conversation with a raven

An index of facts and figures Strident Stringiformes by Ryan Bonneau






18 • WINTER/SPRING 2018-2019



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



DANIELLE LAZARIN Danielle Lazarin (“Hide and Seek,” pp. 60-66) is the author of Back Talk: Stories, a debut collection that earned favorable reviews from The New York Times, Harper’s, and Chicago Tribune and starred reviews from Kirkus and Booklist. Her writing can be found in The Southern Review, Buzzfeed, Colorado Review, The Cut, Glimmer Train, and elsewhere. She lives with her husband and two daughters in her native New York, where she is at work on a novel.






MATT KROLL Matt Kroll (“Telluride Faces,” pp. 52-54, “Puppy Love,” pp. 42-42) is a photographer living in Telluride with his wife Rebecca and his daughter Emerey. His photography work includes portraits, intimate weddings, fine-art, and outdoor landscape photography. When he’s not behind the camera, he can be found running and exploring the San Juan Mountains and the surrounding desert.

DEANNA DREW Deanna Drew is a naturalist who spent decades working on environmental programs for Telluride Ski & Golf Resort and the Town of Mountain Village. She created the St. Sophia Nature Center at the top of the gondola and Telski’s Topaten interpretive snowshoe tour program, and most recently spearheaded the new Nordic ski club for students. Drew is also a writer and photographer who trained at The Aspen Times and High Country News. She prefers being outside to being at a desk, so writing about nature (“Hares of a Different Color,” p. 84) is a good compromise.

Christina Callicott, Craig Childs, Martinique Davis, Deanna Drew, Elizabeth Guest, Geoff Hanson, Karen James, Katie Klingsporn, Paul O’Rourke, Corinne Platt, Sarah Lavender Smith, Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, Regan Tuttle, Lance Waring, Michelle Curry Wright, Samantha Wright ~~~

CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Ryan Bonneau, Gus Gusciora, Matt Kroll, Melissa Plantz, Sarah Schwab ~~~

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. ~~~


Reflections of the San Juan Mountains. Photo by Ryan Bonneau, illustration by Kristal Franklin.



Within h




emories are a funny thing. Sometimes they bring you joy; other times they are so painful that you have to squint when you look back, trying to erase the sharp edges. For the most part they dissolve slowly on their own, leaving you with just a highlight reel from your life, like one of those plastic View-Master toys where you flip the lever to see the next slide on the paper wheel through the glasses. Memories are just images from a longer narrative, pieces of a bigger picture. If you could see your whole life laid out before you, would you change things? asks Amy Adams at the end of the 2016 film Arrival. In this issue we have a lot of retrospective stories, reflections on the past, and we asked that question of the four ski bums who started Helitrax in 1982 (“Wing and a Prayer,” p. 34).

Would you do it again? Their reply was a resounding “yes.” We also took a look back at the lineage of avalanche patrol dogs (“Puppy Love,” p. 42), from ski patroller Lisa Chism’s new puppy to the pioneering pooches that have kept the slopes safe for the last three decades. These handlers benefit from the wisdom and experience of all the dogs that had first tracks in the Telluride Avalanche Dogs program. Also in this issue, local writer Geoff Hanson reprises one of the first interviews he had in 1991 (“Call Me Ed,” p. 76) when Sir Edmund Hillary came to Telluride for the Mountainfilm festival, the beginning of Hanson’s career in media. Sometimes reflecting on the past informs what you do in the future. Mountain Village (“Mountain Village Comes of Age,” p. 38) is currently reinventing itself; the town was incorporated in 1995 and is now

making planning decisions that will guide it through the next era. And it was Hilaree Nelson’s first expedition to Everest and Lhotse that prompted her return trip this fall; this time, she brought her skis, and became the first woman to ski from the summit of Lhotse through the “Dream Line” in the couloir below (“Take it from the Top,” p. 68). Historian Paul O’Rourke specializes in exploring the past. This winter, he brings us a story of the old boarding houses in Telluride, where owners competed to have the best food and amenities to lure mine workers to stay in their encampments (“Cities in the Sky,” p. 56). Looking back means taking a critical look at how our actions have affected our current situation. Climate change has caused seasonal shifts—later, drier winters that leave snowshoe hares vulnerable

when their coats turn white but the landscape is still brown, making them more visible to predators (“Hares of a Different Color,” p. 84). Taking action to protect the environment (“Small Steps, Big Strides,” p. 86) is crucial for protecting species like the snowshoe hare. There’s also something to be said for looking forward. And there’s a lot to look forward to in this issue— an introduction to a new local podcast, a rundown of the best gluten-free food in town, essays by Craig Childs and Michelle Curry Wright, and fiction by the up-and-coming author Danielle Lazarin. We hope you enjoy this issue of Telluride Magazine, and that the winter of 2018-19 makes it onto your personal highlight reel of memories. Peace, Deb Dion Kees Editor, Telluride Magazine



Winter • Spring 2018-2019


Telluride Ski Resort opens for the 2018-19 ski season.


HOLIDAY ARTS BAZAAR Local artisans and artists vend unique handmade goods like jewelry, sewn and knitted clothing and accessories, toys, local foods, housewares, candles, and more at the Telluride Elks Lodge.


THE LITTLE MERMAID Sheridan Arts Foundation Young People’s Theatre middle school actors perform The Little Mermaid at the Sheridan Opera House.

ONGOING EVENTS AH HAA SCHOOL FOR THE ARTS OPEN CLASSES The Ah Haa School has two special ongoing classes: the Art Bar for adults from 5–7:30 p.m. every Monday between January 7 and April 1, and a Kids Night Out every Thursday between January 10 and April 4. Ah Haa also offers classes in painting, drawing, writing, jewelry making, batik-dyeing, ceramics, graphic design, theatre, dance, fitness, and more. For a complete schedule of classes and events, visit the school’s website. AVALANCHE AWARENESS FORUMS AND RESCUE CLINICS The Telluride Avalanche School, in partnership with San Juan Outdoor Adventures/ Telluride Adventures and the Telluride Ski Patrol, offers a free series on Monday nights in the winter and educates backcountry travelers about avalanche safety. Free avalanche beacon rescue clinics are offered throughout the season, starting in January. Multi-day avalanche safety courses with field sessions and ice climbing trips are also available. WINTER/SPRING 2018-2019


Celebrate life with the Telluride AIDS Benefit’s dance party at the Liberty Bar in honor of World AIDS Day.


Telluride Historical Museum opens for the winter season. This year’s annual exhibit is entitled “Children of Winter Never Grow Old: Snow Sports in the San Juans,” celebrating the timeless passion for winter athletics.


Shop early and partake of the holiday caroling, discounts, and cheer in Telluride’s retail stores.


The Sheridan Arts Foundation and Black Tie Ski Rentals present Teton Gravity Research’s latest ski/snowboard film, Far Out, at the Sheridan Opera House.


SCHMID RANCH The Telluride Historical Museum presents its annual Christmas celebration at Schmid Ranch on Wilson Mesa. Bring the kids and find your Christmas tree, make a wreath, take a sleigh ride, enjoy homemade hot cocoa, meet Santa, and more.


HOLIDAY CELEBRATION CONCERT The Palm Theater hosts the Nashville-based acoustic bluegrass ensemble The Barefoot Movement for holiday music and stories.


The gondola opens for the 2018-19 winter season. The chondola between the Meadows and Mountain Village center starts running Nov. 16.


WINTER CONCERT Rock out at the annual performance by the bands of local kids at the Sheridan Opera House.


HOLIDAY PRELUDE Mountain Village hosts this fun holiday event, with train rides, free ice skating, movies, crafts, sledding, and a tree lighting.


Shop at the Sheridan Opera House SHOW bar for locally made gifts and products.




TELLURIDE FIRE FESTIVAL Enjoy the festival’s fire installations, fire juggling, dancing, and other performances, gallery exhibits, workshops, parties, and more.


The local theatre troupe performs Dude & Bro Get Real, an original work, at the Sheridan Opera House.


Palm Arts Dance presents an evening and matinee performance of The Nutcracker.


The Sheridan Arts Foundation and Bootdoctors present Warren Miller’s latest film, Face of Winter, at the Sheridan Opera House.





22 • EVENT CALENDAR Winter • Spring 2018-2019



ONGOING EVENTS BOOK CLUB Sip libations and discuss what you’re reading with other bibliophiles at “Booze and Books,” held at the West End Bistro at the Hotel Telluride at 5:15 p.m. on the second Thursday of the month. FILMS AT THE LIBRARY Wilkinson Public Library and Telluride Film Festival host “Cinematheque,” presenting a series of films as a retrospective on the work of director Hal Ashby. All shows screen at 6 p.m. and include The Landlord (Dec. 3), Harold and Maude (Jan.7), and Being There (Feb. 4). FITNESS PROGRAMS AT THE LIBRARY Get moving for free at the Wilkinson Public Library’s yoga, Zumba, and Pound classes. You can get a workout outside, too, by checking out snowshoes at the library. I HEART ART Come try these free art projects with Jeannie at Wilkinson Public library every Monday at 3:30. KIDS PROGRAMS AT THE LIBRARY Wilkinson Public Library hosts after-school programs for kids: On Tuesdays, there is Cyber Clubhouse for aspiring coders, as well as “Paws” for Reading, where kids can practice reading to a therapy dog. Also on Tuesday is Open Math Tutoring for grades K-10 with Mr. Dan. On Wednesdays, go to the library for Kids’ Cook. Kids learn how to make a healthy snack or small dish with ingredients supplied by the library. METROPOLITAN OPERA AT THE PALM The Palm Theatre presents opera performances on a large HD screen throughout the winter. This winter’s schedule includes Metropolitan Opera performances of Muhly’s Marnie (Nov. 26), Verdi’s La Traviata (Dec. 15), Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur (Jan. 12), Bizet’s Carmen (Feb. 2), Donizetti’s La Fille Du Regiment (March 2), Wagner’s Die Walkure (March 30), and Poulenc’s Dialogues Des Carmelites (May 11). WINTER/SPRING 2018-2019



Skiers descend into Telluride and Mountain Village, carrying torches and forming a bright string of lights.

Locals perform hilarious lip sync routines in costume on the Sheridan Opera House stage, in a benefit event for local community radio station KOTO.


Mountainfilm in Telluride hosts its annual “friend-raiser,” an event and screening to benefit the film festival and its programs, at the Sheridan Opera House.

FEBRUARY 1–2, & 4

MAMMA MIA Young People’s Theatre high school actors perform the musical Mamma Mia, featuring the songs of 70s group ABBA, at the Sheridan Opera House.


Narrators tell their own stories onstage at the Bob (black box at the Palm Theater).


Catch these performances by the Nashville-based folk-pop-soul duo Freddy & Francine (Dec. 28), American jazz ensemble Hot Sardines (Dec. 29), and the New Year’s Gala with the funky soul music of Robert Randolph and the Family Band (Dec. 31).


Celebrate New Year’s Eve with a parade of lights down the ski slopes and fireworks in Mountain Village.


Telluride’s countdown takes place on New Year’s Eve, from 11:30 p.m. through 12:30 a.m., on main street in front of the clocktower in the courthouse. Colorado Avenue will be closed to vehicles between Aspen and Fir Street, and no glass or open containers of alcohol are permitted.


Ah Haa hosts its annual New Year’s Eve Gala Fundraiser, featuring artists Chris Miller and Craig Childs, with fine art, a champagne reception, a four-course dinner, entertainment, and a wine auction.


Douglas Appling, a DJ and producer of electronic music whose stage name is Emancipator, performs at the Sheridan Opera House.



Trout Steak Revival, winner of the 2014 Telluride Bluegrass band competition, is one of the most popular string bands in Colorado—Westword named them Denver’s Best Bluegrass Band and they were nominated as a Momentum Band of the Year by the International Bluegrass Music Association. Trout Steak Revival performs on the Sheridan Opera House stage.


Check out this musical showdown between two talented tribute bands, one paying homage to the Rolling Stones and the other to the Beatles.


The funk and electronica duo, brothers Matt Hill (guitarist/producer) and Mark Hill (drummer), perform at Club Red.


The Motet, a funk/afrobeat/jazz ensemble started by drummer Dave Watts and based in Denver, takes the stage at Club Red.


The legendary Second City comedy troupe performs at Telluride’s Palm Theatre.

The Southern soul rock band JJ Grey and Mofro performs at Club Red.


Zoso is a tribute band that is billed as the ultimate Led Zeppelin experience. Watch the group perform at the Sheridan Opera House.


Los Angeles contemporary dance company BodyTraffic performs at the Palm Theatre.


Sample chocolate confections made by local chefs, dress in theme costumes and dance at this annual benefit for the San Miguel Resource Center, held at the Sheridan Opera House.


BROTHERHOOD The psychedelic blues rock band Chris Robinson Brotherhood, formed in 2011 by Black Crowes singer Chris Robinson, performs two shows at the Sheridan Opera House.


The 20th annual Telluride Comedy Fest features famous comedians from films and shows like The Daily Show, Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock performing skits and improv.



Join the club and elevate your travel experience The Elevation Air Club offers its Member’s the safety, privacy, reliability, and luxury of private jet service at a fraction of the typical cost. •

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Personalized service with convenient booking by telephone

Call for more information and how to transform the way you travel to Telluride.

All flights operated by Mountain Aviation



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Formerly Telluride Air Club & Sun Valley Air Club 100 C, 20 M, 25 Y, 8 K

24 • EVENT CALENDAR Winter • Spring 2018-2019




OPEN RECREATION The Telluride Parks and Recreation department offers open hockey and ice skating at the Hanley Ice Rink and Pavilion in Telluride Town Park and drop-in basketball, volleyball, pickleball, and indoor soccer at the high school gym. SPANISH HAPPY HOUR Practice your Spanish at Esperanza’s at 5 p.m. on the third Thursday of every month with Gloria and Jim from the library and other Spanish speakers in the community. All levels welcome. STORYTIME AT THE LIBRARY Kids will love Storytime at the Library, where stories are read aloud at 11 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and at 11:30 a.m. on Saturdays. TUESDAYS AT THE PALM Telluride Film Festival and Telluride’s R-1 School District present free, family-friendly films once a month on Tuesday afternoons at the Palm Theatre. TECH HELP Wilkinson Public Library hosts free tech help from 12–2 p.m. every Saturday. TELLURIDE ART WALK 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. Nineteen 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. 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. WINTER/SPRING 2018-2019


Grammy-nominated acoustic quintet the Infamous Stringdusters perform high-energy bluegrass on the stage at the Sheridan Opera House.


Acclaimed singer-songwriter Joshua Radin and renowned vocalist Lissie take the stage at the Sheridan Opera House.


AIDS BENEFIT A multi-day event for HIV/AIDS prevention and education, the benefit includes a signature fashion show, art and clothing auctions and a trunk show.




Telluride Historical Museum hosts this annual fundraiser, which is also a benefit for the American Cancer Society.

Kids ages 5–14 are invited to craft a sled out of cardboard, tape, glue, and wax and race on the NASTAR course on the ski area in this fun fundraiser for Telluride’s One to One mentoring organization.







Blues guitarists/vocalists Tinsley Ellis and Coco Montoya perform at the Sheridan Opera House.

Telluride Theatre presents an original play, Since I Dreamed, at the Palm Theatre.


Telluride Adaptive Sports Program, which provides services to athletes with disabilities, holds its annual fundraiser with music, food, drinks, and an auction at the Telluride Conference Center. Guests can dress in blue, the iconic blue of the jackets that TASP volunteers wear when on duty.


GALACTIC Groove to the classic funk/jazz music of Galactic, who are performing two shows at the Sheridan Opera House.

Join Telluride Historical Museum for a tasting event featuring historic cocktails. Don’t miss Telluride Theatre’s annual risqué fundraiser, a vaudeville-style, strip-tease performance at the Sheridan Opera House.


Legendary bluegrass musician Tim O’Brien plays at the Sheridan Opera House.


KOTO hosts the annual block party in front of the county courthouse to celebrate the end of the ski season. Prizes are awarded for the best pink flamingo costumes/attire. (Snow date is April 6.)

This is a fun annual event where locals get auctioned off along with a specific activity for a date. The auction is a fundraiser for Telluride’s One to One mentoring organization. Telluride Ski Resort closes for the 2018-19 ski season.


Gondola closes after the 2018-19 ski season.


Mad River Theater Works performs their original play Wings of Courage, the story of Eugene Bullard, at the Palm Theatre. Bullard was an African American boxer, World War I flying ace, jazz musician, and a spy.


MOUNTAINFILM IN TELLURIDE Mountainfilm in Telluride is a film festival that screens documentaries, and hosts symposiums, breakfast talks, and other events about mountain culture, the environment, and our global community.

Art For Home and Self 171 S. Pine St. Telluride • 970.728.3355 •


Free of Gluten, Full of Flavor Explore the gluten-free fare at local restaurants By Elizabeth Guest Photos by Gus Gusciora


inter enthusiasts crave a white, snowy layer of powder on the ski slopes, but more and more folks are steering clear of the white all-purpose flour in their diets. Whether they are sensitive to gluten or just trying to go low-carb or keto, diners are looking for more gluten-free (GF) options. Restaurants in Telluride and Mountain Village offer a variety of GF menu items throughout the day, for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even dessert. Start off with the GF blueberry waffle at The Butcher & The Baker. Also labeled GF on their morning menu is the savory breakfast porridge, layered with quinoa, brown rice, amaranth, goat cheese, tomatoes, and seeds with a farm-fresh egg on top. “It makes a difference to offer gluten-free options—if we make a soup with noodles, it’s noticeable that it doesn’t sell as well,” says chef/owner Megan Ossola. “If there’s an opportunity to make something gluten-free we just make it that way.” The Butcher & The Baker uses GF products in their sauces and dressings to ensure customers with gluten sensitivity a risk-free dining experience. So, when you order a scoop of salad from the case, gluten isn’t sneaking

unexpectedly onto your plate. Similarly, their pesto is nut-free—used across the menu in several dishes—to avoid nut allergies. The restaurant also makes a GF roll for their sandwiches. It combines flavors and textures from tapioca, amaranth, rice, whole millet, and some seeds on top for crunch. Chef Bud Thomas at The View Bar & Grill in Mountain Village makes his menu from scratch with a variety of GF products. His wife and daughter have Celiac Disease, and he takes special care with the tavern fare at


the lodge’s ski-in and ski-out location. His Korean BBQ sauce flavors tender pork ribs and is GF, made with tamari rather than soy, and GF bread is also an option at The View for toast and sandwiches. Bread alternatives are available at most local restaurants; take your tuna melt on GF Bread at Baked in Telluride, and finish off with a chocolate-dipped GF coconut macaroon. At Alpinist and the Goat, an intimate dining venue in an upstairs nook, GF bread is provided with any of the cheesy fondues.

Wednesdays at Pescado is Indian Night. Chef Sue Govindsamy creates a rotating menu of authentic Indian food with aromatic GF dishes like vegetable curry and Kobe beef skewers. People also pick Pescado for its GF sushi selection. Plus, the small downstairs destination ladles up GF ramen bowls with fresh noodles, scallions, seasonal veggies and a choice of pork, chicken, or shrimp. The Wednesday night special at The Butcher & The Baker is Birds and Bubbles, featuring a gluten-free fried chicken dipped in a batter of GF beer and GF flour. Paired with a crisp glass of champagne, often Moët & Chandon or Veuve Cliquot, the popular special runs $35 during ski season, $25 during off-season. “Having the fried chicken be gluten-free is a big deal for us,” says Ossola. “And we sell quite a bit on those nights.” Communication is key to any dining experience. From menu labeling to kitchen substitutes, the stellar staff at the New Sheridan Chop House and Parlor assist clientele in their pursuit of GF meals. The modern steakhouse menu includes a la carte items that get paired into personalized combos of proteins, sides, and sauces. The Chop House burger, when served on a GF bun, is another

good choice. “Most of our sauces and sides are made naturally GF and our servers are well versed in how to tweak menu items to be GF,” says Cathie Seward, Assistant General Manager. “One of our favorite desserts is a flourless chocolate cake.” Italian restaurants Rustico and La Piazza are paradise for pasta lovers, but also offer GF entrees like Al Funghi Porcini—rice sautéed with Porcini mushrooms and truffle oil— or La Pazza, Guazzetto alla Veneziana—shrimp, scallops, and salmon sautéed with garlic, white wine, zucchini, tomato and basil. They also have GF soups featuring beans, grains, and legumes. If pizza is your thing, you’re in luck. “I am really fond of the Brown Dog ‘Detroit style’ GF crust,” says longtime resident and teacher Joanna MacDonald. She deals with dietary restrictions from Celiac disease, and embraces the forward-thinking local food movement and greater availability of GF food. “High Pie has a good GF crust too.” Another popular nighttime spot, 221 South Oak is a modern bistro in a quaint townhome. In lieu of ordinary flour, the restaurant prefers to use chickpea and rice flours. “GF flours lend a different flavor and texture

than all-purpose flour, and chickpea flour gives a lovely color,” says chef/ owner Eliza Gavin, who in addition to being one of Telluride’s highly-acclaimed chefs is recognized from her stint on Bravo TV’s Top Chef. Gavin’s recipe for crispy shishito peppers and hearts of palm with squash gel and pomegranate seeds—featured in her recent cookbook—is GF, but full of flavor. The peppers are fried in chickpea flour batter, and if squash gel sounds too refined for your personal culinary conquests—maybe you’re more of an Annie’s Mac-and-Cheese level chef—Gavin encourages people to try new techniques. She regularly offers fun cooking classes to teach people how to make special dishes. Often, the best recipes rely simply on fresh ingredients, says Eliza Gavin. With dishes like her jerk-marinated jackfruit with red misozuke, ginger, and turmeric braised parsnips, or her spinach and delicata squash, it’s all about the vegetables. Like most of the people trying to avoid gluten, Gavin’s main beef is with processed white flour: “We love that bleached white flour so much that we’ve used chemicals to strip it of any nutrients.” \ WINTER/SPRING 2018-2019



KAMBO the Amazonian Frog Poison Ancient remedy for modern health issues By Christina Callicott


y old friend Herbert sat cross-legged on the floor in front of me. His long hair pulled back into a man-bun, he held a butane lighter to a bamboo stick and turned its tip into a glowing ember. I watched him and realized, “This is going to hurt.” He touched the red-hot stick to my shoulder and burnt two holes in the skin over my deltoid muscle. Tsst! Tsst! I managed not to flinch. Singing softly, rhythmically, in a language I couldn’t understand, he scraped two little balls of medicine off a small wooden paddle and delicately placed one on top of each of the burnt spots. The pain from the burn was brief and had subsided, but as the medicine, known as kambo, soaked in to the exposed tissue, it stung. Slowly and steadily, the stinging in my arm transformed into a heat that grew throughout my entire body and rose to my head. I could feel my face flush with blood and my eyes turn puffy. “Sube?” he asked me. Is it climbing? I nodded. “Puedo ver.” He could see in my face that the medicine had taken effect. “Cómo sientes tu estomago? Is your stomach hurting? Do you have cramping?” I nodded. A little. I’d broken the rules and eaten a banana before leaving the town where I was staying, walking a mile, and taking two taxis to arrive at his house by 8 a.m. “When you eat, your body


becomes involved with digesting, and taking things in. With the kambo, your body needs to be eliminating. For this reason, we just do a small dosis today.” Kambo is a substance used as a medicine and hunting aid by the Matses, Yawinawa, and other Amazonian tribes who inhabit the lowland jungles of the border regions between Peru and Brazil. “They use it instead of antibiotics,” Herbert told me. “At the energetic level, it offers protection: It raises your energy, and strengthens it, so that you are not so vulnerable.” Like many Amazonian medicines, kambo is closely related to what anthropologists used to call “hunting magic.” “The men use it when they hunt,” he said, “to improve their aim.” In less traditional terms, kambo is a cocktail of chemicals with numerous and various potential applications. At a basic level, it is thought to strengthen and activate the immune system. People around the world are using it to treat intractable illnesses from Lyme disease to AIDS. Although it’s not psychoactive in the vein of ayahuasca or San Pedro, it can have strong effects on the nervous system, and for that reason is being used to treat mental

and emotional illnesses as well, including alcoholism and depression. In the United States, kambo is legal, and the International Association of Kambo Practitioners lists 64 practitioners who offer treatments in the U.S., out of 200 worldwide. Side effects can include stomach cramps, vomiting, and possible infection of the application site. Aside from its powerful effects on the immune system, perhaps what’s best known about kambo is its source: frogs—specifically the green monkey tree frog, or Phyllomedusa bicolor. When frightened, these frogs excrete a venom through their skin that repels predators. To collect the venom, people capture the frogs (they are quite large, and reportedly very tame), tie them up, and scrape the venom off their skin. The venom is spread onto a small wooden paddle and dried for future use, and the frogs are released back into the forest. When needed, the practitioner dribbles water on the dried substance and scrapes it into little balls that are applied to the skin—or rather, to the lymphatic tissue underlying the top layer of skin, after the removal of that top layer through burning.

Apparently, the indigenous people of the forest are not just masters of their environment, they also know how to use its resources in conjunction with the body’s own processes to get the greatest healing effect. When I returned for my second application, Herbert had me stretch out my leg, and he identified a spot on the inside of my right shin. I’d previously only heard of kambo being applied to the outside of the shoulder, where the points often serve double-duty as a sort of scarification or tattoo for ultra-hip travelers in the international “medicine” scene. I was not excited about this new placement—and not because the scars would be less visible. Whenever I go for acupuncture, they put needles in exactly the spot that Herbert was about to put kambo—and those needles always hurt. He explained: “If they put it in the shoulder, it’s just to affect the head. When they put it in the leg, it’s to affect the whole body, and especially these lower organs.” He gestured at the abdomen and pelvis. I was receiving the treatment for persistent bladder and intestinal infections. I took a picture and Facebook-ed it to my friend Pete, an acupuncturist in the U.S. “It’s either the liver or spleen meridian; they’re very close together in that spot,” he wrote back right away. Considering that kambo points are much less precise than acupuncture needles, I had to wonder if the indigenous people picked that spot so as to maximize the medicine’s effect on both meridians. Regardless of the original intention, outsiders

are innovating new ways of working with kambo that take acupuncture meridians and the chakra system into account. Given the increasing prevalence of Lyme disease in our community, and the extreme ill health that I’ve watched many of my friends suffer, I told Herbert I wanted to learn how to apply kambo. “Is it easy to learn?” I was expecting to hear about the subtleties of application, side effects, and when to treat vs. when not to treat. “There’s an initiation. Five points, five days straight,” he told me. In October, he and his Canadian wife are organizing a group expedition to a Yawinawa village in Brazil where Herbert received his initiation. Traveling deep into the Amazon is, however, paradoxically and often prohibitively expensive. There are trainings offered in the U.S. and around the world, but as an anthropologist, these trainings, completely divorced from their local context and with no benefits incurring to the original developers of the knowledge, raise ethical questions for me— but less so than the 70-plus patents that have been granted to pharmaceutical interests for peptides isolated from the frog’s excretions. Despite these issues, kambo seems to have escaped most of the hype and controversy surrounding the ayahuasca craze, and appears to be a legitimate and relatively safe source of healing for lots of ailments. I’ve gone for three treatments now, and as long as Herbert is willing to keep helping me out, I’m going to keep going. \


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Ask Jock

Athletic Advice from Our Local Mountain Guru

Sled Savvy

Dear Jock, We want to take our grandchildren sledding in the town park. They are 5 and 7 years old. Should we get two Flexible Flyers for them? —Grandma and Grandpa Dear G and G, Flexible Flyers perform best on firm surfaces like an icy plowed road. The sledding hill in Telluride Town Park is ungroomed and often has a soft base, so I’d urge you away from an elevated sled with metal runners. Instead, I’d recommend a sled that sits flat on the snow because it will glide better through Colorado powder. For younger children, I recommend something shaped like a toboggan with a tow rope to pull the tired youngsters home at the end of the day. Older kids may enjoy the wild spinning ride of a saucer-shaped disc, but they’ll have less control over their downhill trajectory, which can be hazardous for them and nerve-wracking for you. Sleds made of coated foam—like a kickboard at the swimming pool— have a high friction coefficient and tend to be sluggish on the descent. This can be beneficial for timid or first-time sledders. I’ve had poor luck with plastic sleds with built-in rudders or handbrakes. In cold temperatures, the controls tend to break off leaving jagged shrapnel. Plus, as Calvin and Hobbes would tell you, sledding isn’t about steering or stopping. With that in mind, you might consider helmets for your grandkids. — Jock



Longer, Lighter, Faster

Rubber Meets the Road



Dear Jock, My friend gave me a pair of skate skis and boots. She says the skis are the right length, and the boots fit me perfectly. So I’m all set, except for poles. Can I just use my alpine ski poles? Or should I buy new ones? —Newbie to the Nordic scene Dear Newbie, You could use your alpine poles, but you’ll be more efficient and faster with poles designed specifically for skate skiing. Your alpine poles are short and sturdy to withstand the rigors of the ski mountain. In comparison, skating poles are longer, lighter, and have different grips.


Poles made exclusively for skating have a few advantages: • With the tip on the ground, the handle of your skate skiing pole should reach somewhere between your chin and your lips. That length gives you maximum leverage to propel yourself forward. • Skating poles have lightweight shafts and tiny baskets to reduce swing weight. Your arms—already working hard while skating—will be less fatigued with the lighter poles. • Finally, skating poles have a strap system that cinches around your gloved hand so you don’t have to use your forearm and wrist muscles to hold onto the grip. Again, this reduces fatigue over the long haul. You could spend $300 or more on a pair of featherweight carbon-fiber racing poles. But for an entry-level skier, I’d recommend a perfectly serviceable pair of aluminum poles for around $100. See you on the track! — Jock


Dear Jock, I’m from Atlanta, and I just moved to East Ophir. I’m super stoked for my first ski season, but as I was unpacking my Toyota Camry, my neighbor asked me if I planned to “run chains” this winter. I’m here to ski, so I responded, “No, sir.” He muttered something about fools and newcomers and left shaking his head. What am I missing here? —Southern Boy in the Mountains Dear Southern Boy, Your neighbor was referring to installing tire chains on your vehicle. In your new home at 10,000 feet above sea level, chains provide additional traction in winter conditions. Installing and removing chains, however, is a wet, dirty, and tedious process that you want to avoid if at all possible. If your budget allows, my advice is to sell the Camry and purchase an all-wheel or 4WD vehicle. As a rookie winter driver, you’ll benefit from the additional control and so will everybody else on the road. If you can’t afford a new vehicle, buy winter tires for the Camry, along with a set of chains for when you get stuck. Compared to all-season tires, winter tires are made of a special, soft rubber compound and have siping— tiny flaps cut into the tread—to grip better on snow. Some winter tires also have studs (short metal spikes) to provide maximum traction on ice. Whether you keep the Camry or get a new Tundra, procure a snow shovel, a couple of scraps of carpet or some bags of sand, roadside flares, and a warm sleeping bag to store in your vehicle. The shovel will be useful if you’re ever high-centered in a wind drift on the Ophir road. The carpet scraps or sand will cover the pesky slick patch on Main Street when you can’t get out of a parking spot. Set the flares on the highway if you happen to surf into the ditch. And the sleeping bag is for survival if—heaven forbid—you slide off the embankment and have to bivouac in your vehicle until help arrives. Go slowly this winter, — Jock




32 • ESSAY

Snow globe Maybe this is all a dream…


By Michelle Curry Wright


inter flurries. They ride the wind down and into the valley and swirl, then settle, filling the air with fluff and glitter. It’s the stuff of reveries, of eyes trailing off into the dreamy distance, unfocused and soft. It is the stuff of snow globes, real and imagined. Rizzle razzle dazzle dome, as Mr. Wizard used to say. Time for this one to come home.

I am ten years old, standing in my aunt’s living room, my small hand reaching for an ordinary three-inch, half-domed, plastic snow globe. My favorite kind. Maybe a snowman. Or rosy-cheeked neighbors sledding together, or skiers on a hill, or flocked trees, or reindeer, or a house in the woods, or happy people in plaid winter coats. Or angels, or Santa, or a frozen pond. Maybe I have the skiers in my hand. I have no way of knowing that someday I will ski, let alone live in a ski resort. All I know in the moment is that this tribe looks happy, and I want a life like theirs. This is the aunt with all the best tchotchkes in the world, right there on her oak sideboard—a charming miscellany of objects I love and love reuniting with every time we visit. The aunt whose ironed blouse is always buttoned to the top, who wears brooches and pencil skirts. Whose candy dish is never empty. Licorice toffee, saltwater taffy. And it’s always fresh. Her tchotchkes are exotic for one reason alone: because in our family, we do not accumulate novelties like this. Not marbles or figurines, nor vacation souvenirs, or key chains, music boxes, or even travel games—let alone snow globes. Mine is a family once smitten by antique auctions in Europe where my dad is stationed in the early 60s. So our rooms aren’t like our friends’ rooms, with stuff on the walls and knickknacks on the windowsills. Our rooms are simply smaller versions of the adults’ rooms, and as such, are not sanctioned for filling up with useless junk. Sure, I might have a doll collection. Traditional regional costumes of France on dolls of varying—but not too varying—sizes, a collection that somehow

manages to pass muster. Yawn. I probably wonder what I can do to these dolls to make them come to life instead of just sitting there in that glass case I had to help refinish, because everyone had to help with those endless antiques, even me at the age of five. Eventually, sure, I probably pulled a leg or two off—just to create a little commotion and drama among the ranks. Who wouldn’t? But it’s nothing at all like the sideboard at my aunt’s where I am now staring intently into the faces and hearts of tiny skiers, gazing so deeply, in fact, that a sigh escapes my lips. A breathy little puff of nostalgia, of increased awareness of some kind. What a fantastic item, this world held in water and glitter. Of course, I know nothing of its history, its origins as a surgical light source, the conjuring of light through a hand-blown glass globe filled with water and particles. Or that eventually this globe will someday spawn innumerable kitschy versions of itself—White Houses, Mickey Mouses, and Mount Rushmores all memorialized in glycerin and glitter. It doesn’t really matter at all anyway when you have the real deal in hand: the classic, the traditional, the timeless winter scene. I shake the globe hard, then hold it up even closer to my face so I can watch the white flitter (as it is called) rise and swirl. Who can say how long the skiers have been dormant, trapped in stasis. Two months? Two years? By my hand, I can set it all in motion again. Everything around me now—my two feet planted on some faded floral area rug, the distant sound of laughter (and some arguing) coming from the kitchen—everything swirls and fades into the background, as I fall under the spell of the tiny world in my hand.

These are the little people, the lucky people of the snow. They are still, yet they are not. Nothing bad ever happens here, because nothing ever happens at all except the falling and swirling of the snow, the snow, the snow. I shake it three or four more times, and watch as it eventually comes to a standstill. In my ten-year-old heart of hearts, there is rejuvenation. Hope. A mysterious feeling of magic. Then I have a new thought, one that will generate many similar thoughts in my future life as an adult. Maybe this is all dream, all this around me; and maybe we are all really trapped inside our own tiny universes just like this one. I hear a voice calling for me to wash my hands and to help set the table, to get the good steak knife set out of the box and make sure they face inward toward the plates. My uncle is still arguing with my father. Quickly, I sneak the snow globe behind some other taller tchotchke so that no one else can see it and pick it up. It’s mine, really. All through dinner I feel the presence of fallen snow. And I feel it still, deep in my heart, high in the mountains of southwestern Colorado where I sit in a coffee shop window watching a storm come in, snow sinking down the mountain and tumbling into the box canyon, dusk laying its massive purple shadows down, as people, bundled in long coats and hats, move toward their fireplaces and cups of cocoa. Backlit by the lamps that have just plinked on, the big, fat flakes of snow begin to fall heavily now. They fall like a colossal velvet curtain but make no noise at all. They fall into layers of peace and silence and white. Peace. Silence. And light against the darkness of night. \







It was the 80s, and most of the best powder stashes still lay outside of the ski resort terrain. If they wanted to ski what today are in-bound runs like Bushwacker, Logpile, and Mammoth, they had to break some rules. They had their ski passes pulled multiple times for ducking the ropes. The Silver Glade incident was probably the tipping point. That day, they swear they were innocent. The out-of-bounds policy at the time was “mellow yellow.” Yellow signs meant a soft closure, but when they put their avalanche beacons on and started skinning past a yellow sign on Silver Glade en route to Gold Hill they got stopped by ski


patrol—and were accused of putting the yellow sign there themselves. It’s 2018, more than three decades later, and they’re still rankled by it. “It was so ridiculous,” says Speed. Speed (Brian Miller), Dave Bush, Mark Frankman (“Frankie”), and Mike Friedman were all working at the resort’s day lodge at the time: janitors, cook, and busboy. They were also ski bums— powder junkies—says Frankie. They were among the few backcountry skiers who would venture out during the winter avalanche season, although there were others who mostly skied in safe spring conditions when the lifts closed. “At that time,

people thought it was stupid to climb up when the lifts were running. But we were obsessed with powder,” says Frankie. In those days, they were on the kind of kind of retro equipment you see in vintage ski posters. Skinny, 210cm-long skis and three-pin telemark bindings. They initially used purple wax, instead of climbing skins, to make their skis sticky enough to ascend. They even set up a tipi in the backcountry so they could make extended trips into the high country. Snow science was still in the nascent stages back then, but they all had a healthy fear of the San Juans, which are widely considered to have some of the most treacherous avalanche conditions in the country because of the steep slopes and complex snow structure. They read all the books, studied the conditions, dug snow pits. They tossed around the idea of guiding backcountry ski tours, but they say that anyone capable of skiing the backcountry didn’t need, or want, to be guided.




he four were skiing at Snowbird when a Powderbird helicopter flew above them, and the light switch flicked on. If they wanted to guide powder tours, they needed to offer something unique: Heli-skiing was the answer. It was the boldest of ideas, really. None of them had ever been heli-skiing before. They got a temporary permit from Jud Wiebe and Dick Cook at the Norwood Forest Service office to explore the possibility of a heli-skiing operation, an explosives permit from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and they were off with bombs in tow—a lot of bombs—for avalanche control. “In retrospect it seems like an insane amount of can-do optimism, but the pri-

mary motivation was we wanted to go heli-skiing,” says Frankie. They did a whole lot of reconnaissance, or “experimental learning,” says Speed. The first time they tossed an explosive, they yelled “Howdy, Gowdy!” in a nod to one of their patroller friends Jim Gowdy, who was head of snow safety at the time on the ski area and helped them in the early days. Their exploits, however, attracted the attention of other outfitters. Suddenly Helitrax, or the group of four men who would become Helitrax, were in a bidding war for the permit area. Friedman says that they couldn’t bear the thought of outsiders coming in and taking over all the local terrain. He and his partners had worked so hard to analyze the safe zones, the sweet spots, the optimal

ski runs and conditions. Luckily, they knew the terrain better, established better protocols, and after a couple of seasons they ultimately won the bid for the permit. But not before one of their competitors, the Moabbased outfitter Sidewinders, earned the nickname “Slide Finders,” after being involved in avalanches that resulted in some of the infamous names for backcountry runs in Ophir. Mustang, Banker, Stu’s, and Wee Willy’s were all named for Sidewinder mishaps. “it was a pretty cowboy time,” says Speed. The one thing this band of ski bums didn’t have was money. They initially kicked in $85 each to buy some stationery, pay the $25 for the USFS permit, purchase a caseload of bombs. “That pretty much played out our capital,” says Friedman.






here wasn’t exactly a bunch of millionaires in Telluride at the time waiting to invest in this heli-skiing exploit. But this was a different era; drug smuggling was part of the local underground economy. If they wanted to get off the ground, they needed to welcome any and all investors. Friedman remembers being handed $1,000 in hundred-dollar bills under the bar at the Floradora. They didn’t ask any questions, he says, but that patron did get a few helicopter rides from the airport to his home in the ski ranches in gratitude. “Let’s just call him Mr. L,” says Friedman. What was unexpected were the small investors in Helitrax. There was an outpouring of support from all the locals, not just the nefarious ones. They decided to create a corporation, the Telluride School of Ski Mountaineering, so that they could sell shares. “The first cash we got was from Nick Kirsch. Nick and his wife, Lyla, really believed in us. He supported us from the beginning. Grace Dupont, Norm and Eileen Benjamin, Robert Sinclair, other locals invested. There was a long list of people who kicked in money to keep us afloat,” says Friedman. The operation started small. They were able to contract a Bell 47 Soloy jet conversion helicopter and pilot, hire the renowned avalanche


caster Peter Lev for guidance, and launch their first commercial flights during the Mountainfilm festival over Memorial Day weekend in 1983. One of their inaugural clients was Mountainfilm guest Yvon Chouinard. Things were lean in the early days, not just the long, narrow skis, but also financially. They ran ad hoc offices at locations in town, one at the New Sheridan hotel lobby which was conveniently adjacent to the bar, to try and attract customers. They had a makeshift basecamp at the Matterhorn near Lizard Head Pass. This was before Mountain Village, the airport, computers and internet, and there were no cell phones back then. When they finally got a landline, it was a party line that they shared with three other entities, says Frankie. The Skyline Guest Ranch was one of those entities, and it had an old slimline princess phone in the dining room that was always getting knocked off its cradle. “We’d be shouting, ‘hang up, hang up!’ to try to get someone’s attention,” says Frankie, “and sometimes we ended up having to drive over there and hang it up ourselves.” The financial calculus of running a heli-skiing operation at such high altitude and in such a small, new resort town was daunting. The team had to get creative. They used their resources to make money in other ways: flying the occasional film crew to shoot aerial and extreme ski footage for commercials and ski movies, helping with Search and Rescue missions, and most crucially, doing avalanche mitigation for the mountain passes and mining roads. “Without that money we wouldn’t have survived,” says Friedman. “That was huge for us and we learned so much from doing it. We saw a lot of avalanches and that helped us become better forecasters.” At one point, they were doing all of the control work in southern Colorado. After the biggest storm cycles it would take them a day or two to clear the roads, and they remember landing the chopper at the Pizza Hut in Pagosa Springs for a quick lunch stop on more than one occasion. The Search and Rescue missions were the most difficult. Most of the time, they say, it was “body recovery.” Helitrax was often called in for the sobering work of carrying the victims of avalanches out of the backcountry. It was a heavy load to bear, and those missions reinforced their resolve to keep people safe in the high country. In the meantime, Helitrax was advancing, moving forward. The team was recognized for their avalanche expertise and their contributions to the developing body of snow science in the San Juans. They had better equipment: Lama single-engine French helicopters and hot-shot Vietnam vet pilots. Even the skis were getting fatter, which made powder skiing accessible for more people. And defying all odds, they never—not once, ever—got any of their patrons caught or buried in an avalanche. “We did pretty good,” says Friedman. “Especially considering everyone told us it couldn’t be done in the San Juans.” They managed a perfect safety record throughout all those years. Perfect, except for one high-profile incident that landed them on the cover of People magazine.

Keeping your

Winter Green

25 0 S. F I R









ne fateful April Fool’s Day, in 1994, Helitrax was flying a group into Waterfall Canyon above Ophir for a last run. The guest list that day included a celebrity—supermodel Christie Brinkley, who had become something of a fixture in Telluride that year after she left rock star Billy Joel and started dating a local real estate developer, Ricky Taubman. Taubman was also on board, as were two members of the Carradine family and Mike Friedman. The helicopter didn’t quite make the landing and ended up tumbling down a snowy slope. Nobody was killed; there were some injuries, but nothing life-threatening. The only real fallout was the massive amount of ink devoted in national media to the accident. Helitrax had been the darling of the regional press, and were heroes in the local community, but now they were all over the AP wire and every news outlet was reporting on the only accident they ever had. There was a lawsuit, but it was dropped. And eventually the media clamor subsided, as it always does—newspapers ending up in the bottom of the proverbial birdcage. Helitrax emerged unscathed. “It was a bad day for us but we recovered in a season or two. Things were taking off in Telluride. All the partners decided it wasn’t going to stop us,” says Friedman. Unscathed, that is, except for Frankie, who had the misfortune later of delivering his morning address to new passengers at the Trout Lake staging area when Christie Brinkley pulled up to go cross country skiing. She shouted a loud, nasty diatribe at the group. “Wow, I thought. I’m actually getting heckled by a supermodel during the safety orientation.”




riedman jokes that the quartet was like a gang of escaped prison convicts in a movie, chained at the ankle, having to make group decisions to go in the right direction. But in reality, they were a band of brothers. There were some minor quarrels, but they all got along really well. How could they not? They were heli-skiing. They had created the ultimate job for themselves and were living the dream, skiing untracked powder. Ultimately what made it work, they say, was the trust they had with each other in the backcountry. They started out as a posse of backcountry skiers who had their lives in each other’s hands, and that became the paradigm for their operation. “We bickered like brothers, but having four close friends, that camaraderie, that was what made it fun,” says Speed. They had a backcountry bond that forged their friendship, but that was pretty much where the similarities ended. They have fairly distinct personalities. Friedman was the entrepreneur, the one who articulated the plan, the optimist who foresaw their success. Frankie was the quintessential professional, who dealt with the business aspects: the daily operational procedures, the reservations, and the customers. Bush was the jack-of-all-trades, the one who could jerry-rig equipment; the quiet, serious member of the team. Speed? He was the stoke. He made sure everyone had a good time. And while

all of them still go ski touring, Speed is the only one still guiding with Helitrax under its new owners. “I’m planning my exit strategy,” he says. “I’d stay forever if I wasn’t too old.” They sold the business to local Todd Herrick in 1999, and transitioned for a few years to share their institutional knowledge. They were way ahead of their time and very passionate. They never really made any money, although they were able to pay back their numerous investors. But it wasn’t about the money. Heli-skiing is not the type of venture that makes money; it’s the type of business you run because it feeds your soul and lets you share an incredible experience. All of them say if they had it to do over, they’d do it again. They agree that if someone tried to start a helicopter skiing operation today, it probably wouldn’t work. There’s a lot more resistance to high-flying ideas now, especially new operations on public lands. It would certainly be impossible to recreate their legacy with Helitrax—they started with just an idealistic vision, and ultimately they became experts in the field, and built a community resource and institution. They created something that was bigger than the sum of its parts. But maybe the greatest thing that they gave us is a lesson: Dream big, trust your friends, and believe that anything is possible. \

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MOUNTAIN VILLAGE COMES OF AGE 23-year-old town to get a makeover By Deanna Drew Photos by Ryan Bonneau


n the beginning, Mountain Village was like a family. On a mission to build the best ski resort in North America, everyone in the community worked and skied together, then all went out to the same place at the end of the day. The town’s few happenings were mostly attended by staff, and not long after the lifts closed most guests would download the new gondola to dinner and a hotel in Telluride. After dark, there was hardly a soul in sight.

Twenty-three years later, the young resort community has blossomed, with new hotels and restaurants, an expanded ski area, and more summer trails. Special events are tenfold, empty homes and condos are bought and occupied. Town plazas are busy until closing time, and cars are on the streets at night. The years of hard work are paying off. However, such success is not without challenges. Now, residents suggest the town’s original infrastructure and landscaping no longer match its world-class resort status, while visitors want more shopping and dining options and have a hard time getting around. The internet is too slow. The town’s parking lots—and trash enclosures—are full.


To keep up with changes, the three major players in town—Telluride Ski and Golf Resort (TSG), Town of Mountain Village (TMV), and Telluride Mountain Village Owners Association (TMVOA)—are coming together again to push forward the original dream for a fully sustainable, year-round resort community.

The Big Picture

After extensive public outreach and involvement, Mountain Village officials rolled out the town’s first comprehensive development plan in 2011. Launched as an advisory document that would guide the community’s growth for the next thirty years, the “comp plan” lays out broad-brush development scenarios for unde-

veloped parcels of land in three separate subareas of planned density. Town officials and staff were to evaluate future building applications against the goals, policies and actions contained within the glossy, 90-page document. However, with such a long-term plan, it was difficult to predict how quickly or slowly the town would grow, as well as which development proposals would be put forth. The plan needed to be flexible, but such broadly defined terms and lack of detail can hamper progress. It was after another major development project—a medical center in the Town Hall subarea—was withdrawn in 2016, that the town found itself at a critical moment. Proposals were being made but not moving forward. All three

landowners at the site, TSG, TMV and TMVOA, were together at the table, but the stakeholders were not seeing eye to eye. Finally, the town asked: If not this, then what? With a sense of urgency to implement some part of the visionary plan, TSG, TMV and TMVOA pledged to work closely to add another level of detail to the comp plan for the Town Hall subarea. A committee was formed, a Memorandum of Understanding for a scope of work and shared funding was signed, and a planning firm was hired to facilitate the public process. “The med center started the conversation,” says Anton Benitez, Executive Director of TMVOA about the collaborative planning process. “Now, we look at each other as partners.” Benitez reports that TMVOA, TSG, and TMV are committed to working together, something he feels is crucial to implementing the community plan. So far, it’s working: Following the committee’s recommendation, in 2017 the town amended the Town Hall subarea plan, and in 2018 the team signed another MOU for planning out the Village Center. “By working together, our goals are aligned and we can get more done,” Benitez says. “Now, we pick up the phone a lot quicker and talk more. We’re working better than we ever have before.”

First Things First

The Town Hall subarea is complex. It includes the Mountain Village town offices, police station and fire house, a recreational lake and picnic area, grocery store, gondola terminal, multiple skier and pedestrian crossings, a multi-level outdoor parking structure, the Dial-A-Ride shuttle service, a school bus stop and a 222-unit apartment complex. This site serves as the town portal and transportation hub, with a variety of land uses. But for the planning team, kicking off the comp plan by enhancing the sense of arrival at the town’s entry was a no-brainer: After driving 1.5 winding miles along Mountain Village Boulevard through towering aspens set against a stunning background of snowcapped peaks, the guests are already in awe. To take advantage of the Boulevard’s wow factor, the subarea plan calls for two outdated gatehouses to be removed and a free-flowing, landscaped roundabout added to slow traffic and create safe pedestrian passage to trails, sidewalks, and ski runs. This road realignment will allow an existing pond and wetland habitat to be upgraded to a two-acre nature preserve with expanded passive open space, natural play and sitting areas, more parking, and better interface with the Boulevard Trail. “It’s important that the new preserve is consistent with the environment, and not overdone with manicured lawns and plastic playground equipment,” says Mountain Village Mayor Laila Benitez. “It should be natural, and capitalize on the native beauty of our surroundings.”

But before engineering the new road, the committee unanimously agreed to instead prioritize the subarea’s affordable housing component. Considering the town’s urgent need to find homes for its employees, Mountain Village will break ground on two new buildings and up to fifty new rental units at Village Court Apartments (VCA) in 2019. “I’m proud that the town is taking the next step and not losing momentum,” the mayor says, noting the Village already contains about half of the county’s affordable housing inventory. “Our priority is expanding VCA. Once that infrastructure is in and done, we will move on to the road, the roundabout, and the preserve.” While town staff is busy expanding VCA, the rest of the committee will keep working on the spine of the overall plan, including a new plaza area with expanded gondola station and food court, reconfigured parking and shuttle drop-off zones, and making more space for community amenities and Mountain Munchkins daycare. “With everyone coming and going, this site impacts a lot of people,” Benitez says. “Guests showed up at meetings in their ski gear to give us feedback.” She says her primary goal as mayor is doing everything she can to reach every person in the community. “We needed a working solution for residents, businesses, guests, and employees in our growing community,” the mayor says of the new Town Hall plan. “This is where they go. They all have skin in the game.”

Down the Boulevard

Less than a mile down the Boulevard from Town Hall is the Village Center, where the bulk of retail shops, restaurants, condos, and hotels are situated along cobblestone walkways at the base of the ski area. Called “the core” by most Villagers, it is the heart of the Mountain Village community. But in the core a couple of large, undeveloped parcels which are key to the long-term vision of the resort remain empty, and property ownership is even more complex than around Town Hall. So instead of infrastructure, the Village Center subarea planning team—with additional members of the lodging and retail sector—agreed to focus on the core’s “stickiness”

and getting people to linger longer in the plazas. “Our main goal is vitality in the core, and more retail concessions,” says Jeff Proteau, the vice president of Mountain Operations and Planning for TSG. “We consistently see that people want more food and beverage options, more high-end events, and we’re going to give it to them.” He says a retail master plan would enhance retail frontage in the plazas and strategically group areas to be more shopping-friendly. The group is also exploring options for pop-up businesses to increase retail diversity, and looking into expanding the common consumption area so people could move about more seamlessly on a consistent basis. “What we’re doing is raising the bar,” Proteau says. Proteau applauds the town’s recent wayfinding project to install new, attractive signage throughout the community. To bring that same higher quality look and feel to the plazas, committee members created a list of projects to implement right away and make things better. First is addressing wi-fi connectivity to make the core less fragmented, so that guests can walk from plaza to plaza and not get dropped. “People keep asking what’s up with the wi-fi here,” Proteau says. “The internet speed will get much faster throughout the entire town, but first there will be a huge bump in the core and in the on-mountain restaurants.” Other housekeeping items for the Village Center subarea committee include regulating trash and delivery routes and snow removal operations to mitigate noise, installing improved lighting, and educating the community to utilize the Blue Mesa drop off/pick up area to its fullest potential. But Proteau, who is on both subarea committees, says there’s so much to do and everyone is getting so excited, that the committees have to pump the brakes. Implementing all of the new projects in the first two subareas (The Meadows is the third) will take a lot of money and staff time, and costs for most projects have not yet been identified. “We have to spend our money on the ski area, and TMVOA has the gondola to take care of,” says Proteau. “Now, it’s a matter of priorities.” Kim Montgomery, Mountain Village Town Manager, agrees. While improvements to the subareas are great, she says there are other things the town needs to function as a community, such as an upcoming multi-million dollar upgrade to the regional wastewater treatment plant. “These are niceties, not necessities,” she says. Now that there’s a framework in place, the entities can focus on what they need to do independently and still work together to tackle the big issues that affect everyone. “We all really want to keep moving forward,” Mayor Benitez says. “We are going to keep attacking our goals.” Maybe the Village is still one big family, after all. \




puppy l ve meet “quill,” the latest in a long line of avalanche dogs By Martinique Davis


t the outset, Quill may seem like just a normal puppy. He runs with a goofy puppy gait, he chews on things, he likes to wrestle and play Tug-o-War. But what Quill’s future holds is far from typical, as the little guy is in training to become the Telluride Ski Patrol’s next avalanche rescue dog. Joining the ranks of the Telluride Ski Resort’s prestigious canine rescue team is no small feat, as the six-month-old Red Heeler/Golden Retriever mix must undergo specialized training to learn how to use his sense of smell to locate buried avalanche victims. But first, Quill must prove himself an


appropriate candidate—and with a job description that includes riding chairlifts, snowmobiles, and helicopters, working around avalanche-mitigating explosives, and being a model of dog obedience— Quill has his work cut out for him if he’s going to graduate to the level of Telluride avalanche dog. Quill’s next year of training will be critical to the development of his skills as a rescue dog, and that’s where his owner and handler, veteran ski patroller Lisa Chism, comes in. Chism has been a ski patroller at Telluride for 20 years, and for the last few seasons has been assisting with the group’s avalanche dog program. While she’s been

a dog owner most of her adult life, she’s never owned an avalanche dog, and says that the last few months training Quill has shown her how different raising a professional dog truly is. “Training a pet and training a working dog are two different things,” she says, noting that training a working dog begins much earlier than with a pet and requires her to be much more strict. “You’re going to ask them to do things a pet wouldn’t be asked to do, constantly putting them in uncomfortable situations. You really have to create that bond of trust so they know that when they’re with you, they’re safe.”


lady jane’s legacy F

ortunately, Chism isn’t going to be alone in training her pup, as she and Quill join a long line of handler-dog duos that have been employed at the Telluride Ski Resort over the last three decades. That legacy began with longtime Telluride Ski Patroller Gary Richard and his yellow Labrador Retriever Lady Jane Daquiri Watenpaws in 1986. At that time, the Telluride Ski Area was a much different place: The highest chairlift was the Apex Lift (Lift 6), and expansion into Prospect Bowl, Gold Hill, and Revelation Bowl was still decades away. There was therefore much less skiable terrain that held the potential for in-bounds avalanches compared to today. Yet the potential certainly existed on the ski resort back then, and after Richard went on a work trade trip to Jackson Hole (where an avalanche rescue dog program had been underway for many years) he became interested in starting a dog

program here. “Jane really did set up the whole template for all other [Telluride avalanche] dogs to follow,” says Kim Richard, Gary Richard’s wife, and a longtime Telluride ski patroller and dog handler. She explains that unlike today, when pups like Quill have access to numerous outside schools and other training resources, dog handlers back then were pretty much on their own in terms of training dogs for avalanche rescue work. Although Jane didn’t benefit from training with a specialized dog school or have another rescue dog to mimic, she built a reputation as one of the industry’s finest. At the dog exhibitions at the annual Professional Ski Patrol Convention of 1992, Jane beat out numerous dogs from other resorts to win top honors; and in 1989 she located the body of one of the victims of the massive Valentine’s Day avalanche in Temptation Chute, an out-of-bounds area just adjacent to the Telluride ski resort.

Since Jane’s time, the Telluride Ski Patrol has employed more than 20 rescue dogs, who combined have participated in dozens of rescue operations around the region. Kim Richard says the dogs’ number one mission is to respond to avalanches at the ski resort, since a person’s best chance of survival if buried under the snow without an avalanche beacon is to be quickly located by a dog trained to find them by scent. But as the Telluride avalanche dog program has grown, so has its participants’ responsibilities. Telluride’s avalanche dogs have been called on to take part in missions across five surrounding counties, ranging from out-of-bounds avalanches to snowmobile accidents to lost hikers and even missing homicide victims. “With the proper obedience and training, these dogs can search anywhere, at any time,” Richard says. “They know the game, and the game is to find somebody who’s missing.”



a new era for avalanche dogs W

ith the growth of the ski area, as well as the increasing need for their services across the region, Telluride’s avalanche dog program has undergone a significant evolution in the past years. Today, there are as many as five dogs stationed on the ski area during the ski season, but the dogs and their handlers could also be asked to respond to incidents any time of the year, such as last summer’s search for missing local hiker Tim Cannon. In response to the program’s growing obligations, Gary and Kim Richard and other Telluride Ski Patrol dog handlers Eric Larsen, Erik Aura, and Andy Bagnall started the nonprofit Telluride Avalanche Dogs (TAD) in 2012 to help provide foundational support for Telluride’s hardworking avalanche dogs. Not only does TAD allow for 365-day coverage for regional rescue missions, it also provides medical and educational support for the dogs from the time they become an avalanche dog to the end of their life (not just when they retire from the Telluride Ski Patrol). The organization additionally provides outreach and education throughout the region, and funds scholarships for graduating Telluride High School seniors. With the added financial support made pos-

sible by TAD, combined with the backing of the Telluride Ski Resort, today’s avalanche dogs have been able to take advantage of a wide range of training opportunities outside of Telluride’s Box Canyon. Quill, at only four months old, attended a C-RAD (Colorado Rapid Avalanche Deployment) training in Summit County last fall, and this winter

“training a pet and training a working dog are two different things.”


will attend the Wasatch Backcountry Rescue dog school in Alta, Utah. He’ll also have the opportunity to learn from the real professionals: Current Telluride avalanche dogs Stella, Sadie, Mona, Lady Bee, and Wiley. Bagnall, Sadie’s owner and handler, says that all of the outside training and testing opportunities that have become available to today’s ava-

lanche dogs have confirmed one important thing: Telluride’s avalanche dogs are the pick of the litter. Training Sadie as a puppy, Bagnall knew that the expertise and advice handed down from Telluride’s storied avalanche dog lineage was valuable. He didn’t know just how valuable it was until Sadie’s skills were put to the test against other dogs from around North America during a C-RAD validation test a few years ago. “I was really curious about where we were, in terms of other programs in the state and even other countries,” he says of Sadie’s prowess as an avalanche dog. “The C-Rad validation let us know where we stand—and we did really well.” As Bagnall explains, the in-house training program created by Gary Richard and Jane and fine-tuned by all the other dog-handler teams that have come after has created a solid foundation from which today’s Telluride avalanche dogs can truly excel in the field of avalanche rescue. Which bodes well for little Quill, who will be following in the paw prints of a great many dogs who have comprised the Telluride Ski Patrol’s illustrious avalanche dog family. To learn more about Telluride’s avalanche dogs and the TAD nonprofit organization, visit


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DownLow Goes Digital Storytelling forum is being made into a podcast Photos by Sarah Schwab


blonde woman takes the stage inside the spacious lobby of the Telluride Ski Resort, grabs the microphone, and smiles nervously before she begins to speak. She is encircled by a crowd of people, standing beneath the incandescent elk antler chandelier, as snowflakes the size of quarters fall softly outside the tall glass windows. “Raise your hand if you’re married,” she begins. Several hands go up. “Now raise your hands if you’ve got kids.” More hands in the air. “Now, raise your hands if your sex life is a little boring.” She’s got everyone’s attention now.


The prompt for this evening’s DownLow storytelling event is “My Worst Idea.” The woman goes on to tell the audience about the blog she and her friend started, a weekly anonymous chronicle of the various things the women did to try to spice up their marriage. The blog became so popular that her sexploits captured the attention of Katie Couric, who asked her to come on the show. Her worst idea? Agreeing to appear on the show, ignoring the pleas from her husband, who preferred his privacy. “I figured it was OK, because who watches Katie Couric?” The audience laughs. The inaugural DownLow event took place on a November night five years ago at the Fly Me to

the Moon Saloon. The idea was birthed by Laura Shaunette (with her wife, Geneva), but she credits the DownLow’s long-term success to the fact that she worked with Telluride Theatre to launch the forum. “Being under the Telluride Theatre umbrella gave us a jumpstart,” said Shaunette. “I don’t think we would have had the confidence or the wherewithal to even know where to begin without their help.” Shaunette started out as a musician, back in Nashville. She plays piano, cello, a little guitar, and sings. Her high school band was Key Lime Pie; they won the battle of the bands and played the afterprom party. That was the genesis of her interest in







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“We wanted to create a space for everyday people who might not be comfortable on stage. A place where people could listen with open hearts and open ears.”

sound production. “That was where I used to channel my love of sound, recording my friends as we noodled around in the garage.” She went on to study audio engineering at the Belmont University in Nashville. A few years after she graduated she found her way to Telluride for the bluegrass festival. She met her now-wife Geneva, and decided to take the plunge and make the mountains her home. That was in 2012, and she immediately got involved with Telluride Theatre. She was part of the company’s production of Hair, the Bear Awareness skits, and the Telluride Sweet Deals readings. “I loved being plugged into the theatre community. It was natural to go to them for support; not only are they our friends and mentors we trust, they’re an incubator for so many projects because they want to see the arts thrive in this town.” From the very beginning of the DownLow, Shaunette always intended to make it into a podcast. Now, after four years of holding these live events, she finally has a body of material from which to curate episode content. So if you’ve


missed the shows, this is your chance: the pod will be available on iTunes and the Telluride Magazine website this winter. (Telluride Magazine is a sponsor of the DownLow podcast efforts.) The live storytelling events were a way to cultivate content and to develop a platform for people to come share stories on stage, a platform that was accessible to everyone, including people outside the theatre community. This is a small town, she said. You might recognize someone you see occasionally on the street but never talk to them; then they get up and tell a story, share an intimate moment, and it creates a real connection. “We wanted to create a space for everyday people who might not be comfortable on stage. A place where people could listen with open hearts and open ears. It developed organically, and ultimately the space has come into its own,” said Shaunette. Being under the Telluride Theatre banner gave people confidence to come forward and share their stories, and show producers helped the narrators to workshop their pieces, giving them per-

formance tips and advice. Shaunette also goes to other storytelling events to keep honing her chops as a host. “I’m always trying to improve. I do it out of respect for our storytellers…they put in so much work to prepare their stories for the stage, and I want to continue to grow my skills to support them. I want our audience to feel connected; my role is to engage them and set the tone.” The series has flourished over the past four years. Shaunette recalls some of the best moments—such as the graphic, R-rated performances by Christopher Beaver that had the crowd roaring, or the emotional, powerful narrative by Elena Levin that left the audience in tears. But the highlight for Shaunette is not the stories. She says that her favorite part is always the end of the night, when people slowly filter out of the venue. She likes to hear how they react to the stories and how the event precipitates new conversations as they debrief outside or in a bar for a drink afterward. “That’s the goal: More connection. More listening. Taking time to understand each other on a different level.” \

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hen someone is having the worst day of their life—a broken leg, a house on fire, a parent who has collapsed and is not breathing—these emergency responders are on the scene. These things happen at any hour, day or night, but when the call for help goes out, the troops of local volunteers and professionals answer. Meet three of the people whose job it is to be there, to protect and serve the community.

Emil Sante

CHIEF PARAMEDIC, COUNTY CORONER By Katie Klingsporn Photos by Matt Kroll


oaring over the toothy San Juans in a helicopter; loading up the Howitzer to bomb snowladen slopes; administering CPR at the scene of an accident; and traveling high into the backcountry to investigate a death. These sound a bit like scenes from an action movie, but really, they’re clips from the life of Emil Sante. As chief paramedic for the Telluride Fire Protection District, coroner for San Miguel County, ski patrol supervisor for Telski and longtime member of Search and Rescue, Sante is at the nexus of emergency services in San Miguel County. From handing out earplugs at festivals to rappelling down cliffs with skis on his back and driving remote back roads on SAR missions, Sante has been part of the county’s emergency scene for more than 20 years. And he wouldn’t have it any other way. “Honestly, I continue to look forward to every day that I get to work,” he says. “And I know I’m really fortunate. I would argue that doing what I get to do every day is truly one of the best jobs in the world.” Sante’s name wasn’t always synonymous with emergency services. In fact, it was another goal entirely that landed him at the center of the EMS world: to make Telluride his long-term home. Sante, it should be noted, is one of the rare Telluride denizens who actually grew up in the box canyon. His mother hauled him, his little brother Peter, and her 31-foot airstream to the San Juans in 1979, first to Dunton (a short-lived venture due to the heinous winter school commute to Dolores) and then to Telluride. She parked the airstream in the old Pandora trailer park, and that’s where she and the boys spent their first winter. “I remember that trailer being just an icebox,” Sante recalls.

Sante was in eighth grade, his brother seventh. The boys grew up in the mountains, skiing the resort before Lift 7, exploring the backcountry and adventuring in the snow. But like many kids who grow up in small towns, Sante says, he didn’t appreciate how good he had it. He couldn’t wait to get out. He attended Missouri State, where his father was a professor, and traveled extensively. After all that moving around, he realized he missed Telluride. “I called my brother about the time he was graduating college and told him I was thinking about moving back to Telluride,” he says. “I didn’t know what I was going to do, but I knew I wanted to be back here. I recognized how good we had it growing up in a place like Telluride.” The brothers moved back, rented a house and started working at BONE Construction — which gave both the skills to eventually build their own homes. By the mid-90s, they were spending much of their free time climbing and skiing the backcountry. Someone suggested they learn first aid. They had the perfect teacher: their uncle, Peter Muckerman, is a long-time local instructor. After taking a Wilderness First Responder course, Sante enrolled in EMT training. Something clicked. “I just found the whole medical wilderness emergency thing really interesting,” he says. That led to volunteering for SAR and joining Ski Patrol, where he became Telluride’s first and only snowboard patroller. It was a short-lived stint; he says he switched to skis after realizing how foolhardy it was. Performing avalanche control work on a snowboard proved to be too dangerous. As the years passed, he played every role imaginable in the EMS world, from running avalanche dogs to working Care Flight shifts and


loading injured skiers onto toboggans. When he started a family with his wife Pamela, he promised her he would cut down on flying in the helicopter. Becoming chief paramedic and county coroner helped fill the gap with work that’s less dangerous. It is, however, no less serious, and his career often puts him at the scene of life and death situations—a sacred duty in a small community like Telluride, and one he treats with the utmost dignity and respect. Even though he spends more time at a desk than he used to, work is always unpredictable. He still

thrives under the unique pressure of helping people on their worst days, and says being thanked for these incidents never gets old. Sante admits that his many jobs can be a lot to manage (he and Pamela also have two biological and two adopted kids, a dog, cat, and two lizards). The work requires him to drop everything, even at 3 a.m. during a snowstorm. But his EMS career helped him achieve that ultimate goal of making a life in Telluride. He can’t fathom a different fate. “I don’t know if I’m built for anything else at this point,” he says. \

Heidi Attenberger PARAMEDIC, WILDLAND FIREFIGHTER By Sarah Lavender Smith


ne Saturday night last summer, Heidi Attenberger got a call asking her to leave home at 5 a.m. to staff an ambulance at the front line of the raging Bull Draw Fire, in a remote wilderness area beyond the town of Nucla. The assignment would mean camping all week off the grid. Highly devoted to her job as a paramedic for the Telluride Fire District, and also certified as a wildland firefighter, Attenberger didn’t hesitate to accept the assignment. “I’m one of the few people who can say, ‘Yes, I’m leaving in the morning,’ because I don’t have pets, I don’t have kids, and I don’t have a husband—anymore,” says Attenberger, 56, her voice catching as she refers to her husband of 20 years, Craig Pirazzi, who died three years ago in a hang gliding accident. That week on the fire line turned out to be “boring with nothing to do, until suddenly there was a lot to do,” she says. In addition to treating firefighters for minor wounds, “we had a really close call when one of the trees fell over on the road, and one of the truck drivers was underneath, and the tree hit the cab. That could’ve ended badly.” Being a paramedic promises unpredictability, and on any given shift, Attenberger might rush to a scene involving a mountain bike crash, climbing accident, car wreck, cardiac arrest, or a severe reaction to drugs mixed with alcohol. “I cannot imagine having weeks all look the same. I just can’t do repetitive 9-to-5 jobs.” On top of her full-time commitment as a paramedic, Attenberger usually works two days a week as a medical assistant in primary care and in the emergency room at the Telluride Medical Center. Attenberger had been pursuing a much different career when she discovered Telluride while on vacation in the early 1990s, and she never imagined she’d gain medical training to become a high-level emergency responder. Originally from Germany, she was working as a buying agent for General Motors Europe. She met Pirazzi during her first night in town. Falling in love with both Telluride and her future husband prompted her to move here in the fall of 1992. Newly relocated, she worked myr-

iad jobs—construction laborer, landscaper—and developed a talent for painting faux finishes for interiors. But soon she heard about Telluride Ski Patrol and thought, a job where you get paid to ski? I want that. She gained her EMT certification in 1994 and was hired as a ski patroller, a position she relished for 23 years. Wanting to acquire a higher level of skills and responsibility, Attenberger went to paramedic school in 2004 and the following year secured her current position as a paramedic. To see Attenberger on the job is to witness someone who commands respect. She has a striking athletic physique, which comes from her passion for road cycling, skiing, and running. Her German accent from her upbringing in Passau, Bavaria, enhances her authoritative demeanor. But those who get to know her see her tenderness along with the toughness. “She comes off as very serious and carries herself with confidence, as we’re all taught to do as a paramedic,” says fellow Telluride staff paramedic Brad Blackwell, “but, when you get to know Heidi, she is far from stern. She cares a great deal about her co-workers and patients. I look up to Heidi because she’s so hard-working, and such a stickler for details—nobody knows our protocols better.” Recalling how Attenberger coped with the sudden loss of her husband in August of 2015, Blackwell says, “She was devastated, but she continued to come to work, and it made her a stronger and more empathetic paramedic— and a stronger person overall.” During her first year on the job as a ski patroller and EMT, Attenberger witnessed two deaths that hit her hard emotionally: a fellow patroller’s girlfriend succumbed to cardiac arrest on the ski area, and then she watched a paraglider crash and die. Attenberger herself survived a life-threatening accident in 1994, breaking both arms while hang gliding. “I made a bad move, flew back into the hillside and hit a tree, and then I was stuck and had to be rescued,” she explains when asked about the symmetrical scars on her sculpted biceps, the result of surgery following her accident. Recalling those incidents from the mid-1990s, “I thought, it can’t

get worse than that. But then my husband died. Then I really thought, nothing can hurt me anymore because it literally cannot get worse, and everything else I can deal with.” How does she cope with the grief of loss, along with the ongoing emotional challenges of her line of work? “I go for a bike ride or a hike. That’s my best way. And I try to go out in the evening with my friends.” She also heals her loss and finds fulfillment through volunteering for an international disaster relief organization called Team Rubicon, which organizes emergency responders and military veterans to provide aid to desperate parts of the world. “Right after Craig died, I realized, I have to find something more meaningful in

my life. At the time, the refugee crisis in Europe was terrible, and I felt sympathetic to that, because I had lost everything meaningful to me, but I still had a whole lot more than any of those people had.” Attenberger went to Greece two years ago to work on a refugee relief mission. Last year, also through Team Rubicon, she helped set up a medical clinic in hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico. Asked whether she ever would move from Telluride, given her extended family that lives abroad, she says no. “I feel like Telluride is my home, and my friends are my family here, and I’m really grateful for that,” she says. “Even after all that’s happened, I feel my life is better than it would be anywhere else. I still have a good life.” \




Jason Gordon ASSISTANT FIRE CHIEF By Regan Tuttle


t’s not unusual for anyone in Telluride to work more than one job. Oftentimes, locals do a little something part-time—a side gig that helps bring in extra money. For volunteer firefighters like Jason Gordon, though, the second job is unpaid and typically full-time—but you won’t hear him complain. Gordon grew up in Telluride, and graduated in the class of 1992. He attended University of Colorado Boulder and earned a degree in business before heading farther West. Then, he lived and worked in the corporate world for a few years in the Bay Area, surrounded by people who perpetually grumbled about having to drive hours to ride their mountain bikes in solitude, and even longer to ski. Having been raised in Telluride, Gordon knew what those people were missing: a place like Telluride. He moved back home in 2000 to start a business and settle down. His first enterprise was a sandwich shop called The Brown Bag, which he eventually sold. Now he owns Bottle Works (the liquor store across from the Gondola) and another similar store in Montrose. All the while, he’s also been building a career as a first responder. Gordon says he always had an interest in firefighting and EMS. His father, Bill Gordon, was one of the first EMTs in the Telluride area; Gordon grew up with a dad who always carried a pager and responded to emergency situations. “I knew if I lived in this area, I would want to carry on the tradition,” he says. But working as a first responder isn’t something any volunteer can do casually. Emergency service providers like Gordon spend much of their free time, including nights and weekends, taking training courses on fire, hazardous materials, rescue techniques, and more. The ongoing training is something that never ends for a firefighter, especially since the technology, science, and gear are always evolving. Often local first responders have to travel to other places around the state to receive continuing education. What’s more impressive is that volunteers like Gordon continue to hold down income-producing jobs, have kids, manage relationships, and fulfill other obligations (and maybe get some time to play) all while they’re serving the fire department.

In addition to the never-ending training, first responders spend a portion of their lives on call. And, says Gordon, emergency situations rarely happen between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Usually, the calls come in after-hours, in the middle of the night. For the local fire department, that’s roughly 1,200 calls per year. “All volunteers do a tremendous job—walking out of dinner, waking up at 2 a.m., going to the trainings—I admire the incredible amount of time and dedication of all our members,” Gordon says. According to him, lack of sleep is just part of the job. He says he’s not sure if anyone ever really gets used to it, but coffee sure helps. (He says he drinks a lot more these days.) Currently, Telluride has about 65 volunteers in its 175-year-old fire department. In June, Gordon was elected as assistant chief. He says he’s not into titles or accolades; he just wants to give back to the Telluride community he so loves and appreciates, and in a way that he knows he can. He bows to those who have come before him. He said the Telluride Fire Department is one of the best equipped and best trained in the nation. “I think it’s an incredible organization,” he says. “I’m honored to be a part of it.” His position is one he takes very seriously. He says he’s dedicated to keeping not only the community safe, but keeping fellow members of his fire department safe as well. Gordon says they use an expression in his field: “Risk a little to save a little; risk a lot to save a lot.” He says he’s all about protecting property, but he’d never want to put his volunteers in grave danger. To him, the most valuable asset is people, and safety comes first in his firefighting priorities. These days, Gordon still skis a fair amount, depending on the conditions, and he gets out on his bike when he can. He’s also got two kids who are still in school that he wants to spend his free time with. And now he’s putting in almost as many hours into his firefighting work as he is in his personal businesses. Still, he says the work of a firefighter is satisfying. “When you’re able to help and bring some positivity into somebody’s tremendously bad day, it feels good,” he says. “It’s a great way to give to the community, and have a meaningful impact.” \


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Cities in the Sky

Life at Telluride’s High Country Boarding Houses By Paul O’Rourke


arry Doyle was accustomed to taking on big jobs. In Telluride at the turn of the last century, when industrial consolidation transformed the mining business in and around town, there was a lot of “big” building going on. But nothing like this had he ever imagined. He shook his head when contemplating the significance of the nearly half million board feet of Texas pine. He’d been told another shipment of equal size was on its way. He gazed up and off in the distance, at the trail leading from Pandora up Marshall Creek to Savage Basin and the Tomboy mining operations. As soon as the spring thaw in 1902 would allow them access to the high country, Harry Doyle and a virtual army of carpenters and craftsmen were going to erect the company’s new—and very big—boarding house at 11,000 feet above sea level.

Telluride’s Daily Journal reported the new Tomboy boarding house “would do credit as the principal hostelry of a modest city.” At three stories and 150 x 40 feet per floor or 18,000 square feet, Tomboy’s management appeared intent on providing state-of-the-art housing for its many mine employees. The boarding house was to be outfitted, according to the Telluride Journal, with “all the modern hotel equipment, such as electric lights, steam heat, hot and cold water, ample baths, with hospital facilities and provisions for recreation and entertainment.” The San Miguel Examiner, in December 1903, praised the new boarding house: “The big dining hall, capable of feeding 300 men at each meal daily…is administered by J.W. ‘Billy’ Driscoll, the popular steward, who is assisted by four or five cooks and about


teen flunkeys [those newcomers assigned to serving food or bussing tables under the often stern command of the chief cook or head waiter] in catering to the appetites of miners.” Sustaining profitability—the Tomboy, Smuggler Union, and Liberty Bell mines combined netted close to $2 million in 1899 (equivalent to about $60 million today)—required the maintenance of a reliably consistent and content work force. And that, in turn, meant providing above-average accommodations and better-than-decent food at their boarding houses. Where there was a degree of competition between the mining companies in recruiting the most proficient miners there also existed, to a similar extent, what you could call bragging rights in offering better lodging and finer fare than the rival company in the adjacent basin. During the first years of the

new century, the Tomboy clearly had an edge in this regard, but for reasons perhaps other than its new and well-appointed boarding house. Everyone associated with the mining business in Telluride was mindful of the risks attendant to any work performed in the high country. And it was, in the minds of most, the miners who most often found themselves in harm’s way. The boarding house workers—the cooks, the waiters, the bakers, the butchers, the dishwashers, and the housekeeping staff—were not as well paid as the miners, but they had “above ground” and comparatively “safe” jobs. Two months prior to the hiring of Harry Doyle to help build the Tomboy boarding house, events at the Liberty Bell mining property, up Cornet Creek basin, disabused many of the notion that boarding house employment was free from worry.

Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home. —John Howard Payne

At 7:30 a.m. on February 28, 1902, following the morning meal and just after the first shift of miners had reported to work in the Liberty Bell mine, a monstrous snow slide swept away the boarding and bunk houses, along with the tramway station and the ore-loading house. None of the nearly one dozen who were in the boarding house escaped injury, or death. According to the Daily Journal, boarding house manager Fred Clemmer was sitting at a table. At his feet, under the table, lay his dog. After the slide passed, the dog was able to dig his way out of the snow, ice and debris. But Fred was swept down the hill. Not until May was his body retrieved. The remains of waiter Harry Trowbridge weren’t recovered until late June. In all, 18 perished in one of the worst natural disasters in Telluride’s history. Liberty Bell mine operations and a new boarding house were relocated to a less dangerous site down the mountain, at a new crosscut, the Stillwell tunnel, by mid-1905. In October of the following year, the Daily Journal reported that arrangements were underway for a “fine dinner at the Liberty Bell mine boarding house, when lady and gentlemen friends of the employees up there will be given a good time.” The Smuggler Union Mining Company had shifted the focus of its operations to the Bullion Tunnel, just below the Sheridan mine, prior to its purchase by the New England Exploration Company in April 1898. By 1899 a substantial “village” had grown up around the mouth of the tunnel—located about 4 miles north and east of Telluride on what three years later would become the 5-mile stretch of road from town to the Tomboy mining operations. Facilities at the Bullion Tunnel included a two-story boarding house and a half dozen one- and two-story bunkhouses, along with an office, a general store, and a post office, reputed to be the highest elevation facility like it in the world at the time. Close to 500 men were on the payroll at the Bullion Tunnel and the Sheridan workings near the turn of the century. All partook in the three to four daily meals, prepared and served as they were by a large crew of cooks, butchers, bakers, waiters, and flunkeys. The San Miguel Examiner, in May 1899, recounted a visit to the Bullion Tunnel boarding house dining hall.

The tables were loaded with a bill of fare that far eclipses many of our pretentious hotels, and served by as courteous waiters as are to be found anywhere, and in true metropolitan style. First came the soup course, then roast and boiled meats of two or three different kinds, vegetables of all kinds, side dishes, milk, coffee, and tea, and then the desert (sic) course of pie, cake, pudding, etc. This was not a deviation from the usual fare… but the entire 300 miners, foremen and visitors all fared alike…If you have ever been in a hotel where 300 people were fed daily you will perhaps be able to imagine the bustle, the work, the help, and perhaps the expense of feeding the employees of a mine like the Smuggler Union. Not to ascribe too much virtue to the mine company’s beneficence, the miners did pay for their “luxuries” to the tune of one-third of their daily pay; for a good while wages were pegged at $3/day. During the early years of the new century, management at the Smuggler Union insisted the miners take up residence at the Bullion Tunnel boarding house, thus offsetting some of the expense of its operations. In fact, according to research conducted for the publication My Home at Present expenses at the Liberty Bell boarding house in 1901 were calculated at just over $30,000 (including $20,000 for provisions and $7,000 for labor) while the revenue received from boarders totaled just under $40,000, for a profit of close to 30 percent. Wages for the boarding house kitchen and dining hall staff were in keeping with the company’s

desire to provide above average fare, after all “the boarding house cook was truly the most important person at the mine. If the miners were not fed plenty of good food, they would tramp on to the next mine,” according to My Home at Present. Chief cooks at the large boarding houses like the Tomboy, Liberty Bell and the Smuggler Union earned upwards of $100 per month, in addition to room and board. Second and third cooks earned slightly less. Highly sought after bakers and pastry chefs took in wages comparable to those of the head cooks. The headwaiter, a well-regarded position with a certain status among the house staff, earned a decent wage. Waiters and dishwashers and flunkeys, positions often held by young men waiting for jobs in the mine, were the lowest on the pay scale, but they nonetheless took in a respectable wage. Waiters, cooks, bakers, butchers, maids, janitors, dishwashers, and boarding house managers constituted a significant turn-of-the-century service industry, not all that dissimilar to that demanded from today’s resort economy in Telluride. As the saying always went: good help is hard to find. The newspapers back then kept track of a few of the notable boarding house workers in their comings and goings, perhaps at the instigation of the mining companies, in the hope they might recruit new employees as a result of favorable press. Apparently, the constant demand for good help often meant that the more popular chefs and waiters and managers had a bit of leverage and could pick and choose their employers and their place of employment. Christian “Chris” Nelson started out at the Tomboy as headwaiter, and then went over to the Bullion Tunnel boarding house in the same position in 1902. In October 1903 Chris was added to the staff at the Camp Bird boarding house after walking off the job at the Smuggler Union property following “stop work” orders from Federal Labor Union #104. Chris was 2nd vice president of the local chapter. But he was back at the Bullion Tunnel soon after, this time as waiter and baker, only to change his mind again in February 1905, when he returned to the Camp Bird. Longtime Telluride resident F.D. “Frank” Margowski, according to the Daily Journal in February 1904, “has gone up to the Tomboy to take the position on Billy Driscoll’s range. Frank is all right anywhere in the kitchen, but his long suit is pastry work. They say there are few bakers who can tie him.” By June of the same year, Frank had taken his talents over to the Bullion Tunnel boarding house. The following is from the Daily Journal on June 13, 1904.

58 • HISTORY ber 1909. Six bunkhouses and the big boarding house were completely destroyed. As was the case with the Liberty Bell property following the 1902 avalanche, plans were put immediately into place to replace living accommodations at the Bullion Tunnel. And like the Liberty Bell rebuilding project, the new boarding house at the Bullion Tunnel was bigger and better than its predecessor. After more than a decade of hearing about the “magnificence” of the Tomboy boarding house, folks at the Smuggler Union had something other than bowling victories over which to crow. Mammoth at close to 24,000 square feet (100 x 65 feet per floor) with 3½ floors, the boarding house was designed with a 40 x 40-foot recreation room, a dining room of equal size, a large and up-to-date washroom and kitchen, along with a butcher shop, bake shop, and a post office, not to mention its 2½ floors of living accommodations. Adding to the immensity of the complex was a four-story apartment building of about 8,000 square feet that was attached to the main boarding house by covered walkways. Harry Doyle had reason to be proud of the work he’d performed at the new Bullion Tunnel boarding house; comparable, perhaps, to the gratification he experienced following the dedication of the Tomboy boarding house well over a decade earlier. But it must have been with horror when on Saturday evening July 8, 1922 he, like just about everyone else in Telluride, observed thick black clouds of smoke rising into the sky above Savage Basin. The great Tomboy boarding house, Harry’s first “big” project, was going up in flames. Harry Doyle and others in town may have sensed that something more significant than a building, something more difficult to explain, had been lost that day. Thankfully there was no human toll, but life at the mines and at the boarding houses above Telluride would never be quite the same after that disastrous fire. While work continued at the Tomboy and at the Smuggler Union mines during the 1920s, the population in those mountain mining communities—estimated at nearly a thousand people—steadily diminished. Less than a decade following that blaze at the Tomboy boarding house nothing but an eerie quiet was in residence in the high country above Telluride. \

Returning to the Smuggler, Miss Swift, who is an accomplished pianiste (sic), entertained the boys for a couple of hours, the Smuggler having a fine instrument in its library room. The party was treated to a splendid luncheon by Mr. and Mrs. C.D. Cook, who have charge of the mine boarding house. Frank Margowski, than whom there is no finer pastry cook in the country, is in charge of that department, and Joe Gage looks after the meat, and you can’t fool Joe on good meat. Two years later Frank was back at the Tomboy, this time as boarding house manager. Just below good food and comfortable and clean sleeping quarters on the priority lists for high country residents was entertainment. Most boarding houses were furnished with pool, card, and reading tables— though the latter were not utilized as frequently as those where a wager might be part of the action. Book and timekeeper at the Tomboy, Alex Botkin, was touted as one of Telluride’s premier athletes, and it was perhaps for him that a tennis court was installed at 11,000 feet. It’s unclear whether Botkin experienced much, if any, competition on the high country court. Both the Tomboy and Smuggler Union erected buildings to house chapters of the Y.M.C.A. In conjunction with the “Y” and in addition to educational classes and recreational facilities, two bowling alleys were constructed at both communities in late-1906. Competition between the two mining companies was, as one might expect, spirited. At their first meeting at the Tomboy lanes in early December the visitors took two of three games. Even with the indomitable Alex Botkin the Tomboy score was 46 pins shy of that rolled by the team from the Smuggler Union. While bowling continued to be a much-appreciated diversion from work in the high country mines, the Y experiment, though begun with good intentions, was abandoned after a few years. The association’s representatives were much given to preach the evils of gambling and drinking. Apparently the miners, inclined, as they were, to partake of such pursuits, stopped listening. At the about the same time the Y took its leave, the bowling alley at the Bullion Tunnel was the scene of a disastrous fire in late Octo-

POSTSCRIPT In an article published in the Mining and Scientific Press, dated November 14, 1914, Mr. L.F.S. Holland, Superintendent of Mines at the Smuggler Union, put forth the notion that “the provision of good board, lodging, medical treatment, and means of recreation for mine workers is no longer regarded by wise managers as philanthropy or paternalism, but as good business.”


Whether seen as the embodiment of good business practice or as an architectural monument to the great wealth extracted from the basins above Telluride during the first three decades of the 20th century, the boarding house, if nothing else, was a practical necessity. Often neglected in the telling of mining history, the boarding house should be remembered as being as significant as

the railroad to the business of mining and, as a result, to Telluride’s history. Telluride’s boarding house history is well told in: My Home at Present, by Mark and Karen Vendl and Duane Smith; Tomboy Bride, by Harriet Fish Backus, Rudy’s View, by Rudy Davison, and in Telluride’s historic newspapers.

Photo by Mark Boisclair







he children are outlining each other’s bodies with chalk in the driveway when their uncle’s car pulls in. Magnolia pops up from the asphalt as soon as the car door opens. Pale purple chalk dusts the crown of her brown wavy hair, and green marks the insides of her fingers. Seven years old, she still greets Nick with a fullbody throttle, screaming his name as he gathers his things from the backseat: a light long-sleeved shirt to keep the mosquitoes away on the August evening, beer for himself and his sister, the bag of charcoal she asked him to pick up from the store. “Mag! I’m not done yet!” complains Sunshine, crouched before the misshapen, legless form her sister occupied a moment before. Magnolia accepts a kiss from Nick pressed onto her cheek. “Better get over there and finish what you started, huh? Hello, Sunny,” he calls to the older one. “Where’s your mom at?” Of all the things he has learned to accept about his sister’s life—her abandonment of Manhattan, her determination to raise her kids alone—the strange optimism of the girls’ names is still hard to swallow. Sunshine and

Magnolia, like rescued dogs, like hippies. Alison’s the only one who insists on their full names; it’s only Sunny who corrects her mother’s introduction of her by it, for now. “Did I ask you not to do that in the driveway or what?” Alison’s voice comes from around the side of the house before she does. She gives Sunshine’s earlobe a playful tug. “Can you believe these two?” she asks Nick as she motions toward the backyard. The girls have switched places now, Sunshine holding the chalk hand of Magnolia’s two-dimensional self, whose head she has

decorated with her name in hasty blue lettering. Alison watches Nick make room for the beers among the hot dog packs and tubs of coleslaw in the fridge. Usually, after his shifts at the police station, he will pick up a six-pack for what she’s taken to calling their “bullshit in the backyard” sessions, but tonight he’s brought two. “Let’s go outside,” he says, uncapping their beers. They sit in the lawn chairs on the stone patio, looking out into the backyards that face Alison’s. There are no fences in this neighborhood, but the houses sit so deep back you’d need a megaphone for a neighbor to hear you. Out front, the girls take turns throwing a rubber ball against the garage door. “You need to mow your lawn,” Nick says. His fingers work the beer bottle’s label, the tiny bits of paper collecting on his shorts. He’s always on her about the upkeep on the house, a future problem he wonders if she’s considered, the unspoken worry about how she will pay for what hasn’t yet happened. Alison inherited the house from a great-aunt who gave a big screw-you to the rest of the family by leaving it to the distant niece who’d made all the questionable life choices. No one had imagined Alison would actually move the kids from Manhattan here, but she did. At least he’s dropped the idea of them moving back into the building their parents still own on West Fifty-Sixth, where they grew up. She’s heard enough about how happy they’d be to take a hit on the market-rate rent to have her and the girls closer, as if the Bronx is another state. Nick’s never been good at hiding himself from his big sister. It’s not unusual for his mind to be elsewhere after a shift, but tonight he looks at her with a heaviness that she knows



62 • LITERATURE means something worse than a bad day at work. She wishes it were about some girl; it never is. “Nicholas,” she says, sternly, jokingly. “Out with it.” She doesn’t want to wait all night for bad news. “When the girls are asleep.”
 “Just say it.”
 He stands up and peeks down the side of the house that leads to the front, where the girls are shouting at each other about turns, on the verge of a fight. He sits back in the chair, puts his beer on the ground. “I got a call from downtown this morning. There was an incident a couple of days ago, on Twenty-First, by the river. Michael was stabbed.” “Oh?” Alison asks as if she hasn’t been listening, as if the utterance of the name she has forbidden in her house is just a coincidence. “He’s dead,” he says. Alison puts a hand over her lower stomach, but it doesn’t do anything to stop what feels like being on a tossing boat with the shore nowhere in sight. “Okay,” she says. Nick shifts his weight on the old metal patio chair, its creaking filling the silence between them. “It’s done, though. You don’t have to do anything,” he says after a bit. A door closes somewhere in the house; small feet pound the stairs. “Frank and Carrie?” Alison asks. Michael’s siblings, both of whom live crime-free, family-centered lives in Westchester, refused to come downtown, having, as Alison had, cut him off or lost him some time ago. Nick shakes his head. Alison said her good-bye to Michael at twenty-five, when she was pregnant with Magnolia, a decade of his quick and selfish choices behind her. She asked him to leave them alone, and he listened, the way he had when she’d said she wanted to get married, have babies. Some days, Magnolia will lift her arm a certain way and Alison will lose her words, have to shake the image of his ghost, tamp down the fact of loving him, of having loved him, and of loving Magnolia now, in the moment of putting on her shirt or reaching for a light switch. She can’t control when she sees him—this will never die—but she is grateful that at least the girls will never know whom they’re tied to, that they belong to him, too. She will be the only one who knows the depth of that, who will see it. An apt punishment for the foolishness of her youth.


“I wasn’t next of kin? For the body?”
 “You wouldn’t have wanted to do that,” Nick says.
 He’s right; she’s relieved to have been spared the question, but she won’t thank him for it. She stands, her now-empty bottle in her hands. “Want another one?” The house is under-furnished and cavernous, too much space for a single mother and two little girls. While it would make sense for Alison to sell the house, to buy an apartment she could reasonably furnish, one in which when she calls her kids for dinner, her voice doesn’t echo, she likes the space, the anonymity after the thirty years she spent in the ten square blocks around where she grew up, a neighborhood so changed she didn’t even

want to recognize it anymore. Besides, anyone who rents from her parents these days is as rich as any of her neighbors now. But here, they bring her things: handfuls of basil from their gardens, their children’s outgrown bicycles and clothing, and it does not feel as wrong as she imagined it would to be on that side of kindness. The girls love the emptiness of the house, the closets with one item in them, the crawl spaces just the right height for their toys, too obvious to hide in and too plentiful not to. It is in one of those spaces that Sunshine convinces Magnolia to hide that afternoon, a game of hide and seek only they know about. “Now don’t move or speak or leave till I

come get you.” Sunshine secures her sister in the crawl space in a spare bedroom with bags of old stuffed animals, winter blankets, and extra pillows. “Did you pee?” she asks. It will be hours, the girls predict, before their mom and uncle find Magnolia, before they’ll even notice she’s gone. A length of time, when told to them, that usually seems interminable, but that now, from their lips, feels like a small victory over the grown-ups. Magnolia nods, wedging herself against the bags. Sunshine shoves her back with a palm. “No, in farther, so they can’t see you. You can’t be wiggling around when they come in. No jumping out when you hear their footsteps either. Got it?” “Can I have my snacks?” Sunshine hands over the package of graham crackers in their sleek, oily wax paper. “Don’t eat them all at once. You don’t know how long you’ll have to be in here.” “Okay.” Magnolia waits till her sister’s footsteps reach the bottom of the stairs before she opens her book, which she has squirreled away along with a flashlight, a drawing pad, and a pack of glitter pens on loan from Sunny. She doesn’t need to rid her mind of monsters and such; these are the innards of the closets, and she has hidden herself in every dark corner of the house, comfortable as in a womb. Alison is reentering the yard with two fresh beers when Sunshine jogs past toward the swing set the neighborhood kids share, just beyond a row of hedges. “Hey, hey, where’s your sister?” Alison calls out after her. Magnolia is never but a few leg lengths behind. “I don’t know.”
 “Could you go get her? I’d like to put the food on soon.” Sunny makes a show of rolling her eyes, but runs back around the front of the house as she’s told.
 “I can’t find her,” she announces on her return a few minutes later.
 “Well, did you look?”
 “Yeah, I looked. I can’t find her.”
 Alison disappears into the shady insides of the house. She calls Magnolia’s name as she walks the hallways, making sure her footsteps are audible. She enters every room with a closet, where Magnolia has created small universes of toys—apartments, she calls them—and Alison figures that Sunshine was too lazy to look there. No answer from her younger daughter.


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64 • LITERATURE “I can’t find her,” Alison says when she comes out to the yard again, her hands in the back pockets of her shorts. “You see?” Sunny says triumphantly, slumped in her mother’s patio chair, kicking the air. Alison ignores her, locks eyes with her brother, asking for his calm. She asks him to go down to the Cramers’, the yellow house at the end of the block. “They have these rabbits, and Mag is crazy about them. I’ll kill her, though.” Nick almost chuckles at the obviousness of his sister’s sending him away, but he’s in awe at her ability to put on a lying face when fear must be clawing her insides out. The providence of mothers. “Sure thing.” “I’ll go,” Sunny volunteers. “No, you stay here with me. You’ll never come back from bunny land.” She gathers Sunshine’s dirty blond hair into a ponytail around her finger, pulling her toward her, a quick measuring of her body against her own no one else would notice. She tells Nick to take the yard route while she takes another spin through the house. “And don’t pull any of that cop shit over there. It scares people,” she yells out after him. He puts his hand up in the air, a gesture of understanding. The Cramers’ house is the final in a string of connected yards. The grass is still damp from some kid’s afternoon run through a sprinkler, mud beginning to return, refreshed, to the earth. Nick sees the rabbits huddled together in a pile in their cage: red wood and wire, a latched door the perfect size for a child’s arms to reach in and select a favorite furry friend, something some- one’s father built. No sign of Mag. Nick makes himself unassuming (hand in his pocket, a smile that shows his single dimple) as he knocks on the screen door in back—no one in this neighborhood seems to use their front entrances, or lock the ones they do use. He talks briefly with the mother, who invites him in, who expresses alarm and pity just at the mention of his sister and nieces. While he talks with her, her boy, shirtless, the underpinnings of muscle and power in his long and tanned body, on the edge between childhood and puberty, watches him from a stool at the kitchen counter. Nick remembers such boys from his own childhood—the ones who never had to lay a finger on another kid, who ran the neighborhood with their voices or a shift of their eyes. Boys

like Michael, though Nick knows that the likelihood of this kid ending up enthralled by the hustle of New York is slim; he is more likely to be taken in by banking or real estate than petty fraud or apartment burglary. “Should we call the police?” the mother asks, and Nick assures her there is no need, without telling her what he does. She promises to send Magnolia back if she spots her. He thanks her and waves good-bye to the boy, who, sitting quietly on his stool, makes no indication that he has seen him at all. “She’ll turn up,” the mother says as Nick walks away.

the way home from Thanksgiving last year. He carefully slid his hands under her thighs to carry her into the house, but this only woke her, and her brow crumpled into anger as she moved his hand aside. “I can go,” she said, not pausing to rub her eyes, looking at him hard and unchildlike. He moved out of her way as she got out of the car, slamming her own door behind her. So when Nick comes around the side of the house to find a young man crouching to inspect Sunny’s necklace in the yard, he isn’t sure if it’s his growing concern about where Mag is that causes the worry about the boy’s hands at Sunny’s neck, to read into how easily, her chin up, hands on her hips, she is making space for him. Nick waits in the parting of the hedges that leads to the yards beyond his sister’s, thinking what best to do, reaching for his logical, alert cop self. The boy is probably a neighbor. The boy cups the gold charm at the end of the chain in his hand, asking Sunny a question that Nick can’t hear clearly. Then a storm passes across his niece’s face, a look of betrayal and distrust so intense that Nick wastes no time leaping onto the boy. Nick pins him in seconds, the boy’s thin body not even struggling under the weight of Nick’s knees, which he uses to secure the boy to the ground. Sunny stands eye-to-eye with her uncle now, her hands moving to her neck, a red slash of irritation along its right side, where her necklace was a moment ago. “Scream for your mother,” Nick tells her. Sunny picks up her necklace from the grass, which lies a couple of inches from the boy’s contorted face. The necklace once belonged to the great-aunt who owned the house; a medallion with a lion, the astrological sign she shared with Sunny, hung from its center. Her mother kept it stored away till this last birthday, Sunshine’s tenth, two weeks earlier. “Go get her, Sunny. Now.” As her sandaled feet break into a run closer to the house, the boy curses. Nick leans into him and says, “Shut the fuck up.” Nick can tell there is something in his pocket, could be a knife. He puts more pressure on the boy’s back, even though he hasn’t moved.
 “What the hell are you doing?”
 “Nothing, man, nothing.”
 This is the response Nick hears every day. It is rarely the truth. Alison comes out of the house gripping her daughters’ wrists, one in



On domestic violence calls or at car accidents, Nick is always handed babies, and they like him, like his smooth, symmetrical face, his wide, firm chest; a child who doesn’t know him will stay in his arms as long as he needs it to. He tries, always, to be sweet in front of his nieces, even as they view him with the same indifference as they do most adults— sometimes nice, but all in all disposable. Mag shows him more affection than Sunny, occasionally sitting on his lap or reaching for his hand to hold, only to wiggle out or let go after a couple of minutes, as if she has made a mistake. Sunshine is wary of men altogether; she keeps her distance. Nick remembers when she fell asleep in the backseat of his car on

each hand, their skinny arms dangling out of their tank tops. Magnolia was asleep when Alison found her in a closet upstairs. She touched her to wake her, feeling for the warmth of her body, her finger instinctually wiping the bit of drool in the corner of her mouth. The sweat beads at her brow. In the yard, Magnolia’s eyes adjust to the light. Sunny is still ashen faced, her summer tan drained. Neither of the girls makes a sound. “Alison, I have cuffs in my car. In my duffel. In the trunk.” “Do you want your holster?”
She is trying to scare the boy, a tactic she used on Nick in their childhood, that cold, convincing tone— he had always believed she would do anything. “Just go get the cuffs, please.” Alison pulls the girls back toward the house before dropping their wrists and walking to the car. “Who knows how to dial 911?” Nick asks the girls. “I do!” exclaims Magnolia, her round face breaking into a proud smile. “Mag, go do that for your uncle. Tell them you have an intruder. Answer their questions. Go.” The boy starts to curse again, his protests muffled by the grass. Nick digs his knee into pressure points on the boy’s back. Sunny walks from the spot where her mother released her into the thick summer grass and watches the boy twist uselessly on the ground. “He said he knows my father,” she says. “He’s lying,” Nick says, although he doesn’t know for sure. It wouldn’t be unlike one of Michael’s friends to show up here, looking for something. Michael took his friends where he could find them. “He said.”
 “It’s not true.”
 “How do you know? You don’t know my dad.”
 “Your father’s dead,” Alison says, handing Nick the cuffs. “No, he’s not.” Sunny begins to cry.
 “Yes, he is. Go inside,” Alison says, a hand, neither soft nor hard, against her daughter’s back, turning her toward the house. The local cops were not pleased to find a teenage boy in hand-cuffs in the Lymans’ backyard. As Nick retold the story to an officer, he could see the youngest cop playing with the girls out of the corner of his eye. It annoyed him, more than it would have if he had just flirted with Alison. There were no charges to press, except on Nick for pouncing on the kid, but the boy, who sat sulking in the back of the

squad car in the driveway, declined. Alison didn’t recognize him, but the cops did, and while his record of petty theft and the contents of his pockets—more sets of keys than an unemployed nineteen-year-old should reasonably possess—didn’t prove anything about his intentions, it was enough to end things there. Nick restores order in the kitchen, returning the defrosted meat to the fridge, rinsing the beer bottles, while Alison puts the girls to bed. It takes longer than usual to do so. The girls share a room, a habit they will grow out of; one day, she knows, they will use the empty rooms, expand. One day, the house won’t be big enough to keep enough space between the three of them.

Sunshine turned to face the wall after Alison read them a few chapters of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz from Magnolia’s bed, but Magnolia, who talks when she’s tired, kept asking questions, even in the dark. Who was that boy? Why was he here? Can I have more water? Will you get Sunny a new necklace? What will I wear when I die? She could hear Sunshine, still awake, breathing as Magnolia ran through these questions, but Sunshine, usually the first to tell her sister to shut up, didn’t say anything, didn’t even mumble when Alison told them to sleep tight, promising to check on Magnolia in ten minutes, by which time she knew the girl would have fallen asleep.

“You’re staying?” Alison asks when she comes downstairs to find her brother leaning against the beautiful French doors Aunt Arlene had put in, the ones the girls have covered in fingerprints. “Sure, I can stay,” Nick says, as though he doesn’t keep a bag in the trunk for just this reason—a fresh pair of underwear and a shirt, an extra toothbrush. “That wasn’t—” she begins and stops. She reaches to turn the lock on the patio doors, but he’s already done it. “The kid’s not coming back,” she says over her shoulder, moving into the kitchen. “You bet he’s not,” Nick says. “Beer?” she asks him, looking at the neat rows of them in the fridge. “There is certainly enough.” “I’m good,” he says, and finally moves from his post at the doors. She closes the fridge. “I’m going to bed.”
 “I’ll be here.”
 “I know,” she sings as she walks past him on her way upstairs.
 “I can go, if you need—”
 “No, stay,” she says. Her moving to this house was just a matter of geography. Wherever you go, there you are, their father likes to say. As she moves up the stairs, Alison feels in her shorts pocket for the necklace Sunny handed over to her without a word. Fixing it would just be a matter of replacing the chain. She can buy one during her lunch break on Monday, while the girls are in camp. She forgets to check on Magnolia. Nick sits in the living room on the one couch, in the far corner, with the television tuned to a baseball game he isn’t paying any attention to. An hour later, he checks the many doors in the house: the front and the side doors, the garage entrance, the basement, the French doors off the dining room, once more. He needs something stronger than a beer. He leaves his car in the driveway and walks to a neighborhood bar that Alison took him to last winter, an Irish pub that is loud enough that he can drink at the bar in peace. After a couple of drinks he starts talking to a woman who has been smiling at him from her circle of friends since he sat down. She takes him back to her apartment, a tiny studio that is air-conditioned like a freezer. He leaves before the woman has fallen asleep, although she pretends she has. He nods to the overnight doorman before walking into the summer air,



66 • LITERATURE which feels thick and comforting after the cold apartment. The night is quiet, the crickets silent, the streets so empty he walks the final blocks to his sister’s house on the yellow lines. Before Nick can find the right key for the side door in the kitchen, it opens from the other side. “Yo,” his sister says. “Yo,” he says back. She is wearing a T-shirt she’s had since high school, her skin visible through the worn shoulders. Her dark hair is in a knot on top of her head. Nick pours himself a glass of water and brings one for Alison, who has sat back down at the banquette by the side door. The time on the oven reads 3:30 a.m. “I thought you were asleep.” He had stood outside her bedroom door before he left for the bar, contemplating telling her he was leaving, but had decided against waking her up. “I was. Now I’m not.” She takes a sip of the water. “Look, can you do me a favor?” she asks as Nick sits down across from her. “Don’t tell Mom and Dad, okay?” “About Michael?” “About today, the kid.” “I won’t.”
 “Thanks.” The girls will tell her parents about the cops coming by, and Nick will tell them about Michael, another thing he thinks is a favor. She can no more control her brother’s overprotectiveness than she could have stopped Michael from choosing the life he did. “How is Sunny’s neck?” “I put some cream on it. She barely let me touch her; I couldn’t get a good look at it.” “Maybe take her in to the doctor on Monday.” “She doesn’t like it when we make a big deal out of things like that. She will be fine.” Alison still isn’t used to the absolute quiet of the house, the way it settles, the sound of animals skittering across branches outside, acorns bouncing off the roof in fall, how loud a single car can be on a street that’s not well trafficked. The refrigerator here is newer than the one in the apartment they lived in just before, and it doesn’t hum. It is okay to have her brother there across the table at the hour she usually feels most alone. “You think he did?” Nick asks her. She knows immediately that he is talking about the boy from earlier. “Know Michael?” Alison shakes her head again. “No. God, who did?” When Nick stood over his former brotherin-law’s body hours earlier, he searched for the cool teenager he used to be, the one who, for a few years before Nick knew any better, he wanted to be like. The deformed and bloated mess in a bag was unrecognizable to him. “That tattoo—” “The one on his calf?” She had always hated it.
 “No, the one on his chest.”
 She doesn’t ask him what it was. She doesn’t want to imagine Michael’s body anymore.


“Never seen it. Must’ve gotten it after we split.” Alison yawns. She catches her little brother’s eyes fill with tears as he takes a sip of water. When he was eleven, old enough for his looks to interest girls, to take pride in that interest, she had the whole neighborhood calling him Babyface, till she decided, a few years later, he’d had enough. She can still picture the quiver in his lower lip when he got mad at her about it, how he tried and failed to hide his weakness from her. It had always been easy for her to break him. She no longer took pleasure in it. Nor can she take this sadness from him now; there is no act of reversal, no protection against it in her power. “I don’t remember it either,” he says, putting his glass back on the table. In the morgue, Nick focused there, instead of on Michael’s busted face, or his lacerated waist, where a knife had gouged over and over. The tattoo was a sunburst above his heart, as if goodness were pouring out from it, or trying to get in. Upstairs, Sunshine is making her way across the dark room back to her own bed from Magnolia’s, which she fell asleep in hours earlier. After their mother had left the room, Mag told Sunny she felt sick. Sunny was so tired, but she didn’t want to call their mother back upstairs. “What’s wrong?” “My stomach.”
 “Go to the bathroom.”
 Magnolia pushed off the covers her mother had carefully arranged around her and went.
 “Better?” Sunny asked when she came back, suddenly feeling more awake. “A little.” Sunshine went over to Magnolia’s bed without being asked, as they did every so often, a fact they hid from their mother without knowing why. “Scootch,” she ordered her sister. She’d stopped whispering by now, their mother so far away in the house she couldn’t possibly hear them. “She’s really mad at us,” Magnolia said once they’d both settled their heads onto the single pillow. “We’re not in trouble.” The look on their mother’s face for the remaining hours of the night, after Mag had been found and the boy had been taken away, was new, she thought, strange, but there hadn’t been, and there wouldn’t be, any punishment. “Not yet,” Mag insisted. Sunny knew there was nothing she could say to change her sister’s mind, and she didn’t want to argue. Mag would feel better in the morning. They’d not play that game again. \

How It Is Over and over we break open, we break and we break and we open. For a while, we try to fix the vessel—as if to be broken is bad. As if with glue and tape and a steady hand we might bring things to perfect again. As if they were ever perfect. As if to be broken is not also perfect. As if to be open is not the path toward joy.

The vase that’s been shattered and cracked will never hold water. Eventually it will leak. And at some point, perhaps, we decide that we’re done with picking our flowers anyway, and no longer need a place to contain them. We watch them grow just as wildflowers do—unfenced, unmanaged, blossoming only when they’re ready—and my God, how beautiful they are amidst the mounting pile of shards. —Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer,

From BACK TALK by Danielle Lazarin, published by Penguin Books, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. Copyright © 2018 by Danielle Lazarin.

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68 • TELLURIDE TURNS Headlines & Highlights from the Local News

Take it from the Top

Hilaree Nelson Summits and Skis Himalayan Peak By Katie Klingsporn


n 2012, Telluride mountaineer Hilaree Nelson made history when she became the first woman to summit Mount Everest and its neighboring peak, Lhotse, in a 24-hour period—a grueling feat few adventurers have accomplished. Nelson had long been drawn to Lhotse—the fourth highest peak in the world at 27,940-feet—and while climbing it, she couldn’t help but envision a ski descent. The accomplished skier was captivated by the couloir below the peak—a skinny, 50-degree chute that unfurls for about 300 feet before it widens into the Lhotse face and tumbles down another 4,000 feet to Camp 2. It was loose and rocky that day, a product of a dry year, but she imagined how beautiful it would be filled with snow. “In my opinion, Lhotse has one of the most perfect ski lines in the high Himalaya,” she said.

Indeed, the couloir has come to be known as the “Dream Line,” and until this fall, all attempts to ski it from the summit had failed. That didn’t deter Nelson, a mother of two whose accomplishments include the first ski


descent from the top of Papsura Peak of Evil in India and the first female ski descent of the Makalu La Couloir on the world’s fifth tallest peak. Six years after summiting Lhotse, the Dream Line continued to lure her.

And so in September, she returned to the Himalaya with partner Jim Morrison, filmmakers Dutch Simpson (a former Telluride resident) and Nick Kalisz, and a team of Sherpas and icefall doctors. And on September 30, Nelson and Morrison topped out on Lhotse on a sunny day, clicked into their skis and dropped in, completing the coveted route and leaving an indelible entry in mountaineering history books. For Nelson, it was extra remarkable, because a woman has never been the first person to ski a line on any 8,000-meter peak. Back home in Telluride, Nelson said she is proud of the accomplishment, but noted that she didn’t do it for the “first” status. “I don’t normally find myself inspired to do something because it hasn’t been done before,” she said. “Typically I’m inspired by the aesthetic of the climb and the ski, and Lhotse was no different. It’s a beautiful ski descent.”


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Along with the difficulty of climbing one of the world’s tallest mountains and having the strength left over to ski a dicey couloir, the team had a unique set of challenges to contend with. Because the expedition took place at the end of the monsoon season, they were alone on Everest. This meant the group had to set their own route through the crevasse-strewn Khumbu Icefall, break trail, and fix lines. On top of that, weather delayed the arrival of crucial gear and food, including their skis. At one point they got caught in a white-out, and while hunkered down in a tent heard avalanches thundering down all around. These are the type of conditions that call for that one special piece of equipment—a bottle to pee in—which in Nelson’s case is her precious orange Nalgene. “I swear it’s a lucky charm. It’s been on every expedition with me for the last six years. I take very good care of it. It keeps me from having to go out in the cold, dark, stormy nastiness when I just want to stay in my tent.” These conditions conspired to make uphill travel and gear hauling incredibly hard, but, Nelson said, there was an upshot. “It was well worth it in terms of solitude.” And they stuck with it, acclimatizing, resting, and pushing for the sum-

mit when they saw a weather window. At 2 a.m. on September 30, they left for the summit. After twelve brutal hours of climbing, they reached the top. There, Nelson and Morrison were pleased to find that the line was filled in—skiable from top to bottom. They were able to linger on the crown of the world for forty-five minutes before the wind picked up. And then, they dropped in to make history. Nelson said the ski was better than they expected. The snow was punchy and difficult for the first 2,000 feet, “but we were still able to link turns and have fun.” As they descended, conditions improved. Reflecting on the adventure, Nelson said that despite the challenges, things lined up for an unforgettable expedition. It entailed a lot of slogging with her skis on her back, but Nelson, a 2018 National Geographic Adventurer of the Year who is also captain of The North Face’s Global Athlete Team, is a sucker for suffering. In a lot of ways, it’s the pain that keeps her motivated. “These expeditions are ways to push my boundaries physically and mentally; they keep me from getting too comfortable in my routines and my habits,” Nelson said. “It’s definitely not for everyone, I just happen to really love it.” \

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70 • TELLURIDE TURNS Headlines & Highlights from the Local News

Top of their Game

Community leaders honored for their work


ven in a town that is home to Olympians, Top Chefs, world-ranked ultrarunners, and renowned experts in anything from high-altitude medicine to mushrooms to software, there are still some leaders in the community that rise to the top and stand out for their accomplishments. These four locals were honored this year for the contributions they have made in their respective fields of expertise.

Bill Jensen

John Bennett

Jim Boeckel

Paul Major

Susan Rice

Telluride Ski Resort CEO

Telluride Fire Protection District Chief

Telluride Fire Protection District Fire Marshal

Telluride Foundation President & CEO

Naturita Public Library Coordinator

The Award: Inductee, U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame

The Award: 2018 George Mazzotti Colorado Fire Chief of the Year

The Award: 2018 Colorado Fire Investigator of the Year

The Award: 2018 Colorado Governor’s Citizenship Medal for Growth & Innovation

The Award: Telluride Foundation 2018 Citizen of the Year

The highly respected Jensen adds induction into skiing’s hall of fame to a 45-year career during which he has worked in every aspect of resort operation at Mammoth Mountain, Sun Valley, Sunday River, Northstar, Breckenridge, Vail, Intrawest and now Telluride. The honor recognizes not only athletes, “but industry icons, innovators and inventors with lifelong national and international achievements in all facets of snowsport.” Jensen became an ownership partner and CEO of Telluride Ski Resort in 2015, and has worked tirelessly to forge relationships between the resort and the municipal and nonprofit entities in town. The annual ceremony, which takes place in April at Park City, will see Jensen rub shoulders with the new class of hall-of-famers: Bode Miller, Tom Sims, Kristen Ulmer, Don Henderson, Tom Kelly, Hilary Engisch-Klein, and Andrew Weibrecht.

Passionate about his work, Bennett, whose father and brother both served as local fire chiefs, has racked up a number of achievements in his eight years as chief, including establishment of the West Region Wildfire Taskforce; making operations more efficient and enhancing service, which led to potentially lower property insurance premiums in the district; and creation of the Designated Emergency Response Agency for San Miguel County, among others. The award was handed out at a Colorado State Fire Chiefs’ Association gathering in October. It recognizes individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to the fire service by elevating the level of professionalism through leadership.

Boeckel was named the Fire Investigator of the Year by the Colorado Chapter of the International Association of Arson Investigators (CIAAI) for his “professionalism, knowledge of fire behavior, and his ability and persistence to find what a fire’s cause, origin and determination is.” Boeckel is often called on to provide expertise to assess the cause and origin of fires all over the Western Slope region. Respected by his peers, Boeckel also serves CIAAI as a regional director, providing leadership to seasoned and new fire investigators.

In an October ceremony, Governor Hickenlooper bestowed the Citizenship Medal for Growth and Innovation on Major at a ceremony at the History Colorado Center. Dan Tishman, chair of the Telluride Foundation’s board, announced the accolade, saying the award “is given to an entrepreneur or business leader who has led with exceptional ingenuity and growth while inspiring and creating new possibilities for others.” It is rare for the award to be given to a philanthropic leader such as Major, who also serves as a board member of the Caring for Colorado Foundation and EPIC (Executive Partnering for Investment in Children) and is a founding member of the Entrepreneurship Funders Network, a co-founder of the Telluride Venture Accelerator, and a general partner of the Telluride Venture Fund. In addition, he is a board member of Mobile Accord Inc., the Colorado Association of Funders and the Council on Foundations’ Community Foundation Committee.

When considering Susan Rice’s contribution to the West End, her work at Naturita’s award-winning library, which serves as a true community hub, is just the most visible part of her behindthe-scenes service. Rice is a founding member of the West End Pay It Forward Trust, a local organization that raises money for an endowment that in turn funds West End organizations and projects. She also serves on the board of the Just For Kids Foundation and volunteers each year at the organization’s Mountains to Desert fundraiser. Her work is off the radar, providing on-the-ground support for the underserved in the West End, that cluster of communities in the westernmost parts of San Miguel and Montrose counties, helping give food, shelter, and resources for anyone in need.



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72 • TELLURIDE TURNS Headlines & Highlights from the Local News

Boutique Air Puts Wheels Down at TEX Telluride airport gets new flight service


hile there are definitely benefits to flying into Montrose Regional Airport—the obligatory City Market stop, treats from Montrose Donut and Deli and a pretty stunning drive to Telluride, among others—touching down at the Telluride Regional Airport has some pluses too. The main advantage for locals is the short drive home. And if you’re a visitor? Well, the slopes are only ten minutes away. Telluride hasn’t had regular commercial flight service to and from TEX since March 2018, when Great Lakes Airlines discontinued its operation citing the national shortage of pilots. Flying into town is finally possible again, following the late-summer

announcement that Boutique Airlines, in partnership with United Airlines, is offering year-round service from Denver International Airport (DEN) to TEX starting with Labor Day weekend’s Telluride Film Festival. “Boutique Air brings a proven, high-quality operation and a worldwide partner network, a great fit for both our community and our guests coming to visit throughout the year,” said Colorado Flights COO Matt Skinner. “We are excited to partner with Boutique Air and deliver commercial flights to TEX for the destination.” Boutique’s CEO Shawn Simpson described Telluride as a “world-class destination” and said that the airline was “thrilled” with the establishment of the new route. “Our strong


partnerships with both Colorado Flights Alliance as well as United Airlines have paved the way to this launch. We look forward to making it a great success.” Boutique’s partnership with United means that travelers can book and connect through the global United network. Passengers on Boutique flights can also earn and redeem miles for flights through the United MileagePlus frequent flyer program. Boutique Air has a modern fleet of Swiss-made Pilatus PC-12 and Beechcraft King Air 350 aircraft with amenities that include reclining leather seats, lavatories, and power outlets. Longtime local Rosie Cusack, owner/broker of Telluride Luxury Rentals & Real Estate, has already

grabbed a seat on one of the new flights. “Flying Boutique is pure joy,” Cusack said. “I love flying to begin with, but Boutique takes it to a new level. Working with their staff is always a pleasant experience, from booking to boarding. Oftentimes it’s like going on a private plane with a group of friends on vacation. I’m also very comfortable flying in and out at our elevation and weather conditions and feel safe. Having Boutique serving our community now gives me a sense of freedom that we have been missing.” The schedule features multiple roundtrip flights daily and can be found online at www.boutiqueair. com,, and at www. \

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74 • TELLURIDE TURNS Headlines & Highlights from the Local News

Knocking on 8,022 Doors Seth Cagin’s run for State Representative seat By Samantha Tisdel Wright


eth Cagin has always been a runner. But when the self-described “secular Jewish liberal Democrat from Telluride” decided to run for the House of Representatives in the 58th House District in Colorado, he was in for the race of his life—and it was all uphill. Cagin, the former publisher of The Watch newspaper in Telluride, described his campaign as a “political science experiment” to find out if devoting months of his life to knocking on thousands of doors could produce a Democratic victory in a deeply conservative district that Trump won by 38 points in 2016. More than that, Cagin said, his experiment was driven by a deeper, more urgent question: Could running for state office and talking with swing voters about common-ground issues such as education, healthcare and the environment in this remote corner of Colorado help heal the cultural divide—and help turn the Trump tide—even if (and when) he himself fell short of victory? There was only one way to find out. Cagin laced up his running shoes, fired up his VoteBuilder app, and set out to knock on 10,000 doors across the deep-red district in the lead-up to the 2018 midterm elections—doors of those who lean Democrat but may be discouraged; doors of those who lean Republican but might consider voting for a Democrat; and doors of those who rarely vote at all. “I didn’t knock on doors and pretend to be conservative, or Republican,” he said. “I am who I am. I didn’t change my views to match the district. I was hoping to change the political leanings of the district.” Every day, he’d pick a neighborhood in Montrose, or Cortez, or somewhere in between. He started knocking in March, and didn’t quit until the Friday before election day, crisscrossing Montrose, Montezuma, Dolores, and San Miguel counties countless times. Behind each door that opened to him, there was a story. Sometimes, he’d encounter fire-breathing Trumpists. “And those—you just get out of there as

“The idea of tilting at a windmill, which is what I’ve been doing for the last nine months—nobody thinks it’s smart politics.” fast as you can,” Cagin said. “I used to try to have a conversation with them, but I learned it’s a complete waste of time. If they started spitting bullets at me, I’d just say, ‘Okay, well, thank you for your time.’” He also met huge numbers of “super-downtrodden” people. “There are drug problems. There are crime problems. There are abuse problems. And money problems underlying everything else. It’s really brutal,” Cagin said. “These people are not receptive to a political appeal. They


don’t vote. Most of them aren’t registered. They have already checked out. They’ve given up.” Then there were the fearful and anxious Democrats. “They are almost afraid to talk about politics if I haven’t identified myself yet as a Democrat,” Cagin said. But the biggest bucket by far contained the disengaged voters. “They are turned off by the polarization. They don’t want to defend their views. They don’t want to get into an argument. The whole thing

makes them uncomfortable,” Cagin said. “They are kind of like the waves of grass blowing in the wind. And they decide elections. They are very susceptible to the national mood. And also perhaps very susceptible to someone knocking on their door and asking for their vote.” It was worth a shot. In his final tally, Cagin knocked on 8,022 doors. “I didn’t hit my goal of 10,000, but came within shouting distance,” he said. And he got 12,783 people to vote for him. Not enough to beat incumbent Republican Marc Catlin, but enough, perhaps, to influence the up-ballot races and help send a blue wave to Washington in 2018. “I always knew winning this race would be very unlikely,” Cagin admitted. “The idea of tilting at a windmill, which is what I’ve been doing for the last nine months—nobody thinks it’s smart politics. That’s why I called it my political science experiment.” Cagin has emerged from the experiment with deep insights into District 58. For one, he learned that the demographics of western Colorado are definitely becoming less conservative. “I mean, I talked to one guy—he was hilarious,” Cagin said. “He was going, ‘I’m running away from the liberals and they just keep chasing me. Now they are coming to Cortez.’” Cagin hoped his campaign would be a catalyst for this transition. In the process, though, he also became a lab rat in his own experiment. “This experience has changed me, and not necessarily for the better,” he said, a little ruefully. “I don’t recommend this for anyone who wants to restore their faith in humanity. The proof that we are living in an extremely cruel society for people who aren’t rich is everywhere we turn, everywhere we look. If we want to look at it, it’s there. And, it’s really discouraging.” “But we could do better if we chose different policies and different politicians,” Cagin added. “These things don’t have to be this way. These are choices. Political choices that we’ve made.” \


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Remembering Sir Edmund Hillary’s Telluride visit By Geoff Hanson


pproximately 11.5 billion people lived during the 20th century. In May of 1991 one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people from those 100 years came to Telluride as a guest at the 13th annual Telluride Mountain Film Festival: Sir Edmund Hillary. On May 23, 1953, Hillary, along with Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, was the first person to summit Mt. Everest, the highest peak in the world. I was a writer at the Telluride Times-Journal at the time of Hillary’s visit and the assignment of interviewing him landed in my lap. I was 22 years old. I had arrived in Telluride six months prior in November 1990 and within weeks landed a job at the Times-Journal as a beat reporter. Fortunately, covering the beat in Telluride included interviewing musicians like Joe Cocker, Jackson Browne, and Butch Trucks of the Allman Brothers, who were all coming to town for the 1991 Bill Graham Mid-Summer Music Festival. Had I been writing for a big city paper, I would have been writing obituaries. In Telluride, I was interviewing one of the most influential people of the 20th century. I met Hillary at The Ice House for a cup of coffee and a bagel. I

arrived first and I was stunned when he walked in the door. He was 6’6” but he seemed absolutely enormous. I thought that the greatest climbers were small in stature. At the time, the most renowned climber in the world was a demure woman named Lynn Hill, who was 5’2”. Hillary was 72 years old. I wouldn’t say he was portly, but he had definitely filled out compared to the pictures I had seen of him as a rail-thin young man. I reached out my hand and said, “Hello Mr. Hillary.” “Please call me Ed,” he said in a lovely Kiwi accent as he sat down.


My first question for Hillary was about his impressions of Telluride. “It’s a beautiful area, nice mountains,” he said. “They’re not heavily glaciered or anything. We built schools in Nepal at the same altitude that these mountains are at. I’d very much like to ski here. I enjoy downhill skiing immensely. Telluride is a nice little town. I’m quite impressed that in a town this small you have so many film and music festivals. I like it. It’s very progressive.” Hillary was in Telluride because he was in three movies that played at the festival that year: Oxygen, What a Gas, and Rescuing Everest. He was

also a central figure in the acclaimed film Solitary Journey, which explored Eastern and Western views of mountaineering as seen through the eyes of John Hunt, who led the 1953 expedition in which Hillary and his climbing partner Tenzing Norgay summited Everest. I asked him if he wouldn’t mind fielding yet another question about summiting Everest. I wanted to know about his decision to go for the summit with Norgay as his partner, seeing as Sherpas at the time were treated as human mules, meant solely for carrying the possessions of Western climbers. “There were eleven climbers on the expedition and I decided that the best and fastest climber was Tenzing,” Hillary said. “He had attempted to summit Everest twice before. He knew the mountain better than anyone.” The conditions were extremely difficult, he said. Two members of their party came within 300 feet of the summit, and had to turn back because of blinding winds and temperatures that were thirty degrees below zero. “We woke up on the 29th and we had a window, and we knew we had to move very quickly if we were going to make it. I wasn’t thinking, ‘I need to set foot on the summit first [ahead of Tenzing],’” Hillary said. “We were a


“Look for adventure and be prepared to meet challenges in your life. It makes life a heck of a lot more interesting.”

team and we agreed that we would say we reached the summit together.” When Hillary returned to New Zealand, Queen Elizabeth II knighted him. I asked him what it was like to be made a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire and he said it didn’t really mean that much to him at the time. “But over the years I realized it made it much easier to get the things done that I wanted to do, and we were able to build many schools for the people of Nepal. I’d like to be remembered more for the work I did for the people of Nepal than for my accomplishments as a climber.” After our breakfast, I accompanied Ed to the Telluride High School. There was a Robert Frost quote on a plaque that sat in the lobby of the school. It read, “I would rather be ashes than dust. I would rather my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled in dry rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in a magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. Man’s chief purpose is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.” Hillary was the personification of that quote. He spoke to the students about the need to seek adventure in life and about the importance of teamwork. “I’m a firm believer that adventure is good for all of us,” Hillary told the student body, which was a fraction of the size it is today. Only

sixteen seniors would graduate a few short weeks later, compared to the eighty or so students who will don the cap and gown this May. “Even being afraid can be worthwhile. It makes blood run through the veins and often allows you to achieve things you may have thought were beyond your capacity. So I would say to you, look for adventure and be prepared to meet challenges in your life. It makes life a heck of a lot more interesting.” Jason Gordon was an eleventh-grader at the time; today he’s the Assistant Chief of the Telluride Fire Department. After the speech, he told me how impressed he was to meet such an amazing person. “Being the first to summit Everest is an incredible feat, especially when you think he did it without any high tech clothing or those dome tents. Also, I couldn’t believe how big he was.” Years later, in 1999, Hillary published a book called View from the Summit in which the answer to the decades-old mystery was finally revealed. It was he who summited Everest first. What mattered most was his deference, not who summited first. I contemplated his humility, his complete lack of ego, his commitment to the Nepalese people, and his stewardship of the environment. He was a big man not just physically, but also metaphorically. There has never been, and never will be, another Ed. \

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ver a century ago, the intersection of Depot Avenue and South Townsend Street gave Telluride a lifeline to the outside world when the Denver and Rio Grande Southern Railroad built its Telluride Depot there in 1891. A hive of activity, the Depot serviced two passenger and countless freight trains daily at its peak, providing the isolated mining community with connections to people and goods hailing from beyond this remote box canyon. Today, as the Depot awaits sale by its current owner, the Ah Haa School for the Arts, the building is poised for renewal. But this time, rather than shuttling people and products around the region, the building is destined to serve as a vibrant local hub for a global trade in ideas and innovation. Once the historic building is purchased in 2019 and occupied in January 2021, the Telluride Science Research Center (TSRC) will become one of the anchor tenants. The Depot will provide needed programming space to further the local nonprofit’s mission to advance knowledge and discovery for the benefit of all through science, while ensuring the beloved building remains a community resource, TSRC executive director Mark Kozak says.



Depot to become hub for science programs By Karen Toepfer James

TSRC, an international scientist organization, facilitates small group meetings between scientists and engineers to foster collaboration. Since 1984 it has hosted over 600 workshops and 15,000 scientist visits


(including five Nobel Prize winners in the past six years) to become the world’s largest independent molecular science center. Unlike traditional conferences that draw hundreds of attendees

and focus on published work, individual TSRC meetings host about two dozen people and tend toward discussions of big, new ideas and unpublished work. “Our friendly and intimate town nurtures an environment for communication and collaboration,” says Kozak. “These scientists come here and they feel at home, so they have the freedom and space to think creatively about grand challenges.” TSRC attendees are thought leaders in fields including biology, climate, energy, materials, and medicine that discuss topics like polymer physics, RNA dynamics, and advances in theory of electronic resonances. They are developing nanodevices that can deliver targeted treatment to cancer cells, molecular pumps to create artificial tissue, new semiconductor materials. “What’s exciting is that all these people are working on different problems that we’re trying to solve as a society, but they’re looking at them at the molecular or quantum level,” he says. “It’s where the next technological revolution is happening.” TSRC meetings have largely taken place during a brief summer season when Telluride schools are available for rental, but lodging costs are high. With pressure on the orga-

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nization to increase programming while keeping participant costs down, an obvious solution was to acquire its own, year-round facility. With one, meetings could be scheduled into the shoulder seasons when lodging prices decrease, addressing both challenges. So when the organization learned of the Depot opportunity, acquisition made sense. With it, TSRC anticipates a 50 percent increase in programming and growth of its annual economic impact from $12 million to $18 million. While the building never officially went on the market, once word got out that Ah Haa planned to pursue a larger space in the Town of Telluride’s mixed-use development at Fir and Pacific Streets, a number of inquiries from interested buyers ensued, confirms Ah Haa executive director Judy Kohin. “Ah Haa’s goal was to sell the building to an entity that would keep this historically rated structure in the public realm, and TSRC came forward as the perfect new steward for the iconic train depot,” she says. To fund its purchase, renovation, and restoration, TSRC has launched an $8.25 million capital campaign. In conversations about funding for the $5.25 million real estate

purchase portion, potential donors voiced concerns that if TSRC were to leave it, the Depot could again be at risk for private development. Simply put, “Donors don’t want to have to save the building again,” Kozak says. They also want to see more science-based programming available to the general public, and for the Depot to remain available for community use. To assuage these concerns, TSRC has decided against owning the building alone. Instead, once purchased it will transfer ownership of the Depot to a trust that will preserve it as a community resource, according to Kozak. TSRC is helping create a new Telluride Science Innovation Center, an unaffiliated nonprofit entity, to oversee the space and expand public or private science and technology programming in Telluride that falls outside TSRC’s scope. Programming rooms will be made available to other community organizations, prioritizing those promoting science and technology, STEM education, and innovation. “In the end, we don’t need to own the Depot, we just need access to programming space when we need it,” says Kozak. “We feel like it’s the right thing to do.” \

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THE ENCOUNTER Conversation with a raven

By Craig Childs


t landed in our gear on the San Juan River, a raven poking among morning dry bags and chairs left out from the night before. With a jaunty wobble, it moved from beach sand to dry box to driftwood. It’s the same raven at this camp every year, a small marking of white at the shoulder on both its wings. They live for 18 years or so. It could have been here a while.


Our canyon was still in shade. The sun had not yet cleared the cliffs when I wandered over to the bird slowly, hands in my pockets, like I was looking for something I’d lost on the ground. The raven hopped away a few feet. I stopped, half-stepped, and started again. The raven strutted to a log jam, last spring’s pileup along the shore, and I followed. I’ve seen ravens for most of my life. We inhabit similar territories: deserts and coastal woods. There are not so many in the midland plains, the east coast, or most cities, which are prone to crows. Ravens are different animals than crows, like lions to cheetahs, or bears to raccoons. Whenever I am this close, I am struck by their size. This one was heftier than any other bird you’d see up close, and dark as coal. The largest of the songbirds, it is sometimes mistaken in flight for an eagle. This one was full grown and this beach had treated it well. It watched me with curiosity and reservation. You have something for me, it seemed to be saying. I crouched slowly a few feet from this grifter as it hopped up to a gray Honaker boulder, bringing us to eyelevel. Trickster, bead-stealer, storyteller. They are cunning creatures. The raven on the boulder released from its beak a soft coo, like a dove, but darker. I cooed back. It clucked and flushed its neck feathers; I responded as best as I could. I asked if it was hungry, in my own language. The raven blinked at me, its eyes like polished obsidian. It cooed. I cooed again. Raven vocalizations have been broken down by ornithologists into regional dialects. Some call it their language, or words. They are known to repeat human words and phrases to get a desired outcome. Among ravens there is a call for meat, one for conflict, and another to round everyone up. This coo could have been what it used when it was a chick asking for food, or a way of talking to strange ravens or people, asking who are you? Everybody at camp loved the raven. Eating oatmeal and melon at the beach as first light sheeted down the canyon wall across from us, people called to it and followed its progress as it explored our perimeters and traipsed up around the tents behind willow and tamarisk. It viewed us warily, keeping us always twenty feet apart, save for when I came up close. The raven and I encountered each other as we decamped. I came down to the shore with gear, and it was walking the river’s edge. We saw each other and stopped, acknowledging our previous

I saw a pair of ravens years ago as they spiraled up a thermal tossing a twig between each other. I stood on a cliff edge in the Utah desert, for a moment eye to eye with both ravens. In a few seconds, they rose a hundred feet above me. The twig went back and forth. One snatched it in its talons and caught an updraft where it let the stick sail. The stick twisted as it fell, and the second raven dove to catch it. Up and down they flew like an amusement park ride. They grabbed the twig in their beaks, and clutched it in their dark, armored toes, sending it into the air where it spun like a bit of confetti that they let fall, daring each other before they both shot after it like sharks. The raven with the twig flew over the ground where I stood. When it let go, the second raven did not intercept. They both let it fall as they veered away. It landed not far from me. I walked over and picked it up. Had this been intentional? I’ve come to believe that everything ravens do is intentional. I once was shat on by ravens, two of them, one after the next. These two could have let the twig tumble anywhere and I’d never have seen it land. It was a twisted bit of root, and the kinks allowed it to spin like an ornament as it fell, chosen for its aerodynamic qualities. Ritual, game, invitation, trick, I never know what to make of their actions. The raven at the beach wasn’t playing. This was office work, daily routine. As each tent came down, new ground was exposed, another chance for a chocolate drop, a rubber band, a peanut. I placed half of my bagel on my gear away from the rest of the river runners, lest anyone catch me in the dubious act of feeding wildlife. It’s not a good thing to do, but I felt I owed the raven something. We’d cooed to each other. The bird didn’t get it right away. It pranced through a few minutes of nonchalance. While I wasn’t looking, the raven took my half of a bagel. I turned around to see it cruising across the water with a hunk of food in its beak. This won’t win me any favors with wildlife biologists or river runner guides. It’s something you shouldn’t do. I don’t feed squirrels or pee on mountain goat tundra, where they like to lick up the salt. You go to a place like Telluride and start feeding the animals, it’s going to become a mangy zoo. Every once in a while, though, I’ll leave something for the ravens, an offering in the deeper canyons they inhabit. Maybe they’ll pass on a good word, that I might be worth talking to. \

The raven on the boulder released from its beak a soft coo, like a dove, but darker. I cooed back. It clucked and flushed its neck feathers; I responded as best as I could. “conversation.” We went on with our business, me loading rafts, it pacing our camp looking for a nut in the sand or a button to fly off with. No one fed the bird. You aren’t supposed to. It makes them beggars. Ravens don’t care. They’ll beg as easily as they’ll eat the ass out of a dead cow. They are also known to be occasionally predacious, hunting lizards, frogs, mice, and songbirds. While most birds have mating rituals, ravens have rituals all day long: wing-tuck games and preening sessions, beaks touching lightly, heads leaning together. They mob owls and hawks, and have reportedly killed their own kind, having been documented in a flock, called an unkindness, tormenting one raven who stole from another; one researcher called this a form of punishment, a moral case, a murder. These birds are notoriously intelligent, known for bending wire to make hooks. They follow a person’s gaze to see what is being looked at, something known only in a small circle of animals, higher primates and sometimes dogs.




Hares of a Different Color Climate change forces animals to adapt By Deanna Drew


ost of us who live in Telluride have been lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a snowshoe hare while skiing or snowshoeing through the woods in wintertime. Once flushed from the trees, the hare uses its specialized, oversized hind feet to quickly escape before again concealing itself in a dense tangle of willow or young conifers.

In Colorado, the snowshoe hare lives in mountain forests from 8,500 to 10,000 feet in elevation. Brown in the summer, in fall the hare’s coat changes color to white, camouflage to match the San Juan’s deep winter snowpack. This natural phenomena, called a color molt, is triggered by shortened days and usually tracks with the coming of snow to help the hare hide from its predators in winter. But weather in the mountains is trending warmer these days; winter is coming later and the length of the season in which there is snow on the ground is shrinking. With climate change, the shortened duration of snow in spring and fall might not sync with the timing of the animal’s annual color change. This could leave a white snowshoe hare mismatched against the brown, snowless ground. Scientists who study how animals respond to climate change say mismatched hares are up to 7 percent more vulnerable to predation by a variety of animals already responsible for 85 to 100 percent of hare mortality. “With continued human-caused climate change and reduction in snow duration,” University of Montana professor L. Scott Mills says, “winter white animals on a brown snowless background will be in trouble.” Snowshoe hares, like all living things, experience changes in their environment that force them to move or adapt in order to survive. But as more land is developed, natural habitats become fragmented, and migration is not always an option. Therefore, adaptations such as camouflage can become increasingly critical for the long-term survival of a species. A report by Mills and his team of scientists says if global warming continues to accelerate, hares could have a camouflage mismatch up to eight weeks longer by the end of the century. And without adapting to the reduced snowpack, annual survival rates could decline by up to 23 percent in his Montana study areas. However, the scientists say evolution could come to the rescue. In habitats with less snow, they found hares with incomplete molts of brown and white, or with no color change at all, staying brown year-round to match a snowless landscape. The biologists predict that if snowpack continues to be absent for a longer part the year, changes to the color of camouflage or the timing of the molt found in other phytogenic species such as weasels, arctic fox, and ptarmigans could help preserve future snowshoe hare populations. “Winter coat color has been shaped by evolution to track climate, specifically snow duration and seasonality,” Mills writes. “With high likelihood of steep population declines over the next century, an evolutionary change toward winter brown would be considered an evolutionary rescue.” Although it is not yet known if the hare’s molt can adapt quickly enough to keep pace with a rapidly warming climate, Mills suggests if humans help preserve large tracts of land through conservation, there’s no need to panic. “Maintaining habitat sufficient enough to support large and connected populations of wild animals is the recipe for fostering nature’s ability to help shape animals to endure rapid environmental change.” Mills urges policy makers to push for a long-term reduction in human-caused greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change, and says together with conservation measures that preserve ample habitat where various individuals of the same species can thrive, there is cause for optimism. “This is something that any citizen, community leader, land manager, or politician could do in the short term to help wild animals persist in the face of climate change.” But, says Mills, we must act now. There are twenty-one different animals in the northern hemisphere that use seasonal color change adaptations. “If we do not make gains in reducing greenhouse gases, and do not take action to foster adaptation, then the prognosis will be grim for many species in the next century.” \ WINTER/SPRING 2018-2019



Small Steps, Big Strides Telluride’s Transition to Green Energy By Corinne Platt


n October 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a dire climate warning: If governments around the world don’t make rapid, unprecedented changes, the planet will reach the crucial threshold of 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit above pre-industrial levels by as early as 2030. The report also cautioned that human-caused carbon dioxide emissions need to fall 45 percent in the next ten years to avoid catastrophic levels of global warming. Millions of Americans heard the rally cry for carbon reduction. Across the U.S., more than 80 cities have adopted ambitious 100 percent clean-energy goals. Six cities—Aspen, Burlington, Georgetown, Greensburg, Rock Port and Kodiak Island—already generate 100 percent of their energy from clean, non-polluting and renewable sources. Hawaii is the first state in the U.S.—California the second—to set statewide goals of 100 percent renewable electricity by 2045. So, where is Telluride in the shift toward renewables? In 2009, the towns of Telluride, Mountain Village, and Ophir agreed to reduce emissions by 20 percent by 2020. But according to Pinhead scientist, Adam Chambers, with our region having two to three times the carbon footprint of most areas of the country, that 20 percent reduction is simply not enough. If Telluride and San Miguel County are going to stand up to climate change, we are going to have to roll up our sleeves and get busy. The primary challenge preventing San Miguel County from reaching carbon neutrality is that our local energy cooperative, San Miguel Power Association (SMPA), is tied to Tri-State Generation, the parent company to forty-three small energy coops across the West. As much as we might like our energy to come from wind, solar, and hydro, the current contract allows SMPA to generate only five percent of its total energy requirements from local renewables. Between the Paradox and Norwood solar arrays, and


a few small hydro projects, the majority of that five percent is taken. Sixty percent of Tri-State’s energy comes from coal. San Miguel County will never be free of its non-renewable energy sources until SMPA either cuts its ties with Tri-State or until SMPA and Tri-State’s other forty-three coops convince the energy conglomerate to shut down all of its coal-fired power plants and shift to wind and solar. “There is no way to mitigate climate change without getting rid of coal,” says IPCC climate scientist Drew Shindell. Thankfully, things are shifting. Recently TriState decided to close three coal-fired power plants, including the Nucla Station in west San Miguel County. Tri-State then called for bids for new solar plants. Hopefully, as is the case with XCEL energy in northern Colorado, the bids for big power plants using wind turbines and solar panels come in below the cost of coal-burning plants. A new report from the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) found that Tri-State could save its member coops millions of dollars by shifting away from coal and using renewables. We can sit back and cross our fingers that Tri-State will come through, but if bold, sweeping change is going to occur, we are going to have to do more than that. Amid the plumes of coal smoke burns a small but bright flame: SMPA’s Green Blocks program. Green Blocks allows any SMPA members to designate the energy to power their buildings as renewable by purchasing Renewable Energy Credits (RECs). RECs are individual certificates created when an individual or company generates power in our country through renewable means. Those credits can then be purchased. All of Vail Resort’s retail shops, and several Telluride stores, can claim to be 100 percent powered by renewable energy through Green Blocks. Like the EPIC pass Vail sells, the program is called EPIC Promise, and it is an attempt to erase their carbon footprint. Telluride’s gondola also runs on 100 percent renewables through its purchase of Green Blocks.

SMPA’s Communications Executive Alex Shelley says when you buy Green Blocks, the money feeds into SMPA’s Green Fund, which allows SMPA to build local renewable projects on its own grid. Wiley Freeman, also with SMPA, has been a renewables advocate at local roundtables in the county. At a recent Carbon Neutral Coalition (CNC) meeting in Telluride, he said, “the Green Fund is the hub of what makes our Green Blocks program able to move the needle on climate change. That fund helps us promote efficiency and renewable energy projects,” such as a free energy audit/weatherization program for income qualified members. What if you could do something right now to offset your carbon footprint? I just went to the SMPA website and signed up for Green Blocks. It took less than five minutes to completely offset my coal-produced electricity. Every home will be different, but I bought three Green Blocks at $1 per 100kWh, for a mere $3 a month—less than a latte at my favorite coffee shop. There are other things every one of us can do right now: sign up for a personal home energy audit from Eco Action Partners and create a more efficient home; sign your business up for an energy audit; put solar panels on your roof before government incentives disappear; push your town for stricter building codes; ride public transportation or carpool. And at the very least, if you haven’t already, switch to LED lightbulbs. None of these actions will lead us to carbon neutrality, but unless we all do a little bit, we’re going to be mired in the inconvenient truth of our reality. “If everyone who reads this buys Green Blocks or puts solar panels on their roof and encourages a friend or neighbor to do the same, then goodness can spread,” says Shelley. Author Malcom Gladwell uses the term “sneezers” about the early adopters of innovation, the people who pass these ideas on to their friends. “At this point,” says Shelley, “we need everyone to be sneezers.” \





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ATLAS OF A LOST WORLD Travels in Ice Age America

BY CRAIG CHILDS Pantheon Books/Penguin Random House $28.95 978-0307908650


The Science, Politics, and Greed Behind the Gold King Mine Disaster BY JONATHAN P. THOMPSON Torrey House Press $18.95 978-1-937226-83-1 When the Animas River turned into an orange-yellow flood of toxic mining sludge after the Silverton Gold King Mine disaster in 2015, the environmental tragedy made national headlines. The images were a clarion call for people across the country who live in places where abandoned mines still pose a risk. Author Jonathan Thompson was uniquely qualified to tell the story. Thompson spent decades as an environmental journalist at High Country News, editor of the Silverton Standard & The Miner, and founder/editor of Mountain Journal. He understood that the Gold King Mine disaster did not just exist in the moment that the sludge blew out of the adit, or the days that it turned the river to an absurdly bright ochre hue, or even the weeks it took to dissipate farther downstream. The spill was the culmination of a much longer narrative, one that reaches far back in history, and incorporates the people who made this place their home, the industry that ravaged the land, the political system that failed to prevent the disaster, and the scientists who will deal with the aftermath. River of Lost Souls is a beautifully wrought and very personal take on all the people and events that moved in precise conjunction, like a Japanese puzzle box, to precipitate the catastrophe. The narrative is structured by Thompson’s investigative reporting, but the parts of the book that flow best are when he blends in his own history, from his great-great-great grandmother, who was a midwife in Durango, to the fishing and camping excursions with his family on the sandbar next to the Animas. And while he paints a bleak portrait of the way people have trod on the natural beauty in the West, there is still something hopeful about the story. If there are enough people like Thompson, people who care about the environment and what happens to it, then there’s a chance that someday we will learn to protect it.


It takes more than a trowel and a degree to be an archaeologist. To really understand the world that came before us, you also need to have a vivid imagination. That is what sets author Craig Childs apart from other people who study anthropology, archaeology, and earth sciences. In Atlas of a Lost World, Childs takes us on a journey into the past, weaving an actual travelogue with what he envisions the world was like during the Ice Age, when early people migrated to an unpopulated hemisphere. The first inhabitants of America are believed to have crossed the Bering land bridge tens of thousands of years ago, perhaps also traveling coastal routes between land masses. Childs made his own passage, exploring ice fields and caves, retracing the steps of our ancestors during the Pleistocene era. Throughout the book he references the latest discoveries and theories about this migration, trying to outline the big picture. At the same time, he compares his own experiences to what it would have been like for people then—he chides himself when he notices he has attracted the attention of wolves or bears. What would it have been like for someone to keep safe from the giant-sized predators that existed then? He examines artifacts and draws on his research to reimagine what the land would have looked like, how the creatures—mega-fauna like mastodons, mammoths, scimitar cats, huge camels—would have moved across the tundra, and how humans would have hunted and been hunted as they struggled to survive the journey. Childs, who now lives in Norwood, is the author of Apocalyptic Planet, Finders Keepers, The Animal Dialogues, House of Rain, and other books and stories about the world and the people in it. Atlas of a Lost World stands out from even these renowned books because it dares readers to visualize the unknown. As Childs writes: Ten years ago is not hard to imagine. A hundred is well within grasp—you’ve probably known people who lived that long. A thousand years is ten lifetimes. Ten thousand years is one hundred lifetimes. It was around two hundred and fifty lifetimes ago that people began to arrive in North America into the teeth of Ice Age mega-fauna. Somehow Childs manages to reach that far back and to envisage life as a traveler during the Pleistocene. Archaeologists may disagree about when and where and how this migration took place, but no one makes it feel as real and urgent as Childs does in this must-read book.

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BY ROSEMERRY WAHTOLA TROMMER Able Muse Press $19.95 978-1-77349-016-8 Naked for Tea is poet Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer’s tenth collection of poems; her work has appeared in O Magazine, A Prairie Home Companion, TEDx, and Trommer was the Western Slope Poet Laureate from 2015-2017 and her writing has earned numerous awards. What sets her poems apart is the way she finds depth in even the most simple things; the slush falling on your car seat when you open the car door, the taste of cauliflower, the obituary of a football player. Trommer is playful with words, testing the reader to find the beauty, or the silliness, or the deeper meaning. In Naked for Tea, she challenges us to say yes, to walk off the road onto the uneven, soft ground, to leave crumbs on the ground not to find your way back but to be surrounded by birdsong, and even to slip out of your clothes—or rather, your inhibitions—when enjoying tea with a friend. Trommer’s poems are not cloyingly sweet or sentimental or optimistic. They are not odes to the beauty of nature, and they are not obscure stream-of-consciousness epics like “Howl.” Instead she writes with a certain clarity about life, a wisdom that invites the reader to reflect with her and to look a little deeper at the things around us.


Inspired Dishes from Extraordinary Mountain Escapes Around the World BY MARLA MEREDITH Page Street Publishing $21.99 978-1-62414-540-7 Warning: If you are trying to lose weight, or are on some sort of diet, DO NOT read this book. Every recipe in High Alpine Cuisine is much too enticing. This book is full of the decadent, beautiful, and hearty food that is relished by people who live at high altitude. Telluride resident and author Marla Meredith has compiled the signature dishes from the Swiss Alps, Austria, Utah, Canada, and Colorado; not just breakfast, lunch, dinner, and desserts, but also après ski food and cocktails. Meredith is a celebrity food and lifestyle blogger who has been featured in Parenting magazine, Bon Appetit, and The Huffington Post and has appeared on NBC Weekend Today. She includes vignettes from her travels with all of the recipes, and locals will recognize some of the places and photos in the book. Some of the ingredients will also be familiar—high-country lamb, wild elk, chanterelles. But even the dishes from other alpine regions will resonate, from the Alps Cheese and Charcuterie Board to the Swiss Gingerbread Biscuits (Basler Leckerli). There’s also a whole section devoted to “Luscious Libations,” with a guide to cocktails and mocktails to help hosts on any occasion, in every season. The food is very rich—from raclette to champagne fondue—but soul-feeding. These are the kind of recipes that celebrate the mountain lifestyle, the places where people are active and healthy and need to eat whole, natural food that fuels our playtime. Are there a lot of calories in this book? Probably. But not a single, delicious one is wasted.


“Perhaps this is the way of women: we seek not so much solitude as solidarity, intimacy more than privacy.” – Amy Irvine, Desert Cabal


A New Season in the Wilderness BY AMY IRVINE $11.95 Torrey House Press 978-1-93722678 What would you say if you had the opportunity to talk to Edward Abbey, who published Desert Solitaire fifty years ago, and whose writing engendered a cult following of likeminded desert rats, river runners, and protectors of redrock landscapes? Local author Amy Irvine was tasked with just that. Her words, published as a long-form essay in Desert Cabal, are a response and retort to Abbey’s novel. The narrative takes place over a single day spent at the secret location in the desert wilderness where Abbey’s body lies in repose. The one-sided conversation starts with coffee and ends with whiskey; readers may want to get both ready, as you will not be able to put the book down until the end.

Irvine’s story is the perfect juxtaposition to Abbey’s. The maleness of his environmentalism, the way he loved the unfettered landscape, and his solitary journey were similar to hers. But Irvine’s comes full circle back to the feminine. Her love withstands the gun-toting, cattle-grazing resistance, the greed of industrial energy, the hypocrisy of well-heeled outdoor enthusiasts with high-end gear, the trampling crowds. She understands what makes everyone want to stake a claim, and she remains faithful. When Irvine’s beloved, entwined pair of Juniper trees near her home are felled, her young daughter is devastated. She places rocks in front of the wheels of the heavy machinery, and kicks the tire for good measure. She asks her mother what her act of defiance is called. Not monkeywrenching, decides Irvine. “Fidelity.” Abbey’s raw environmental outrage was a solitary cry. His claim to the land was his own, his desert sojourns a solo pilgrimage. Irvine’s is a call for a cabal, for not just brethren but also the sisterhood to come together. She asks why Abbey deleted the lines in the book referencing his wife and children: This is so hard for me to understand. Because I write about the broken hearts. The infidelities. The suicides and separations of siblings. Perhaps this is the way of women: we seek not so much solitude as solidarity, intimacy more than privacy. But it’s the way of the wilderness too—in a thriving ecosystem, integration matters far more than independence. The environmental movement has evolved. Irvine’s book is an anthem for this generation of people who love the land; the new cabal won’t be followers in the steps where Abbey trod. Instead they will come with arms linked, side by side with Irvine.


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92 • INDEX






Approximately 3 million people in the U.S. suffer from Celiac disease, and 97 percent of them are undiagnosed. Between 30 and 45 percent of the U.S. population carry the celiac genes that can be triggered by early

In 1975, solar panels were 227 times more expensive than they are today. They used to cost $101.50 per watt; today they cost 44 cents per watt. Solar photovoltaic systems are installed every 4 minutes.

121 prescription drugs

Few mountaineers have summited and skied from peaks that are 8,000+ meters. On Mount Everest (8,848 meters) there have been 9, including one fatality. On Lhotse (8,516 meters), there have been 2. The number of Telluride mountaineers who have skied 8,000 meter peaks is 3. All 3 are women—Kit DesLauriers, Laura Bakos, and Hilaree Nelson—and Nelson has skied 2.

In 2017, there were 464,324 missing children reported to the FBI. The same year, there were nearly 25,000 runaways; 1 in 7 were likely victims of sex trafficking. Of those, 88 percent were in the care of social services when they went missing.

childhood viral infections.


sold worldwide come from plant-based sources. While 25 percent of Western pharmaceuticals are derived from rainforest ingredients, less than 1 percent of these tropical plants and trees have been tested by scientists.




NEVERMORE The global breeding population of ravens is 20 million. Much of the population exists in North America: 18 percent live in Canada, 9 percent in the U.S., and 3 percent in Mexico.

SHAKE IT UP Austrian Erwin Perzy accidentally invented the snow globe in 1900. In the 1930s, New Jersey entrepreneur William Snyder began selling snow globe souvenirs for $1, which cost about $18 now. Snyder published 2 patents related to snow globes.

WHIRLYBIRDS The number of helicopter accidents is decreasing. There were 106 helicopter accidents in 2016, including 17 fatal accidents; this is a 12 percent decrease compared to 2015 and a 27 percent decrease compared to 2013.

BLUE WAVE Colorado is known as a “purple� state for its mix of Democrats and Republicans. In 2018, there were 1,003,424 active Democrat voters and 995,090 active Republican voters registered in the state. The last 3 Colorado governors have been Democrats.

RAPID RESCUE Approximately

75 percent of avalanche fatalities are caused by asphyxiation. Victims that are completely buried have a greater than 90 percent survival rate if found within 15 minutes, and only a 30 percent survival rate if the rescue takes 30 minutes.

Sources: University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center, West Coast Solar Energy, Wikipedia,,, FBI: NCIC and NCMEC,, Mental Floss, FAA, Colorado Secretary of State, Elsevier WINTER/SPRING 2018-2019


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Strident Stringiformes The wailing owl screams solitary to the mournful moon. —DAVID MALLET, 18TH CENTURY SCOTTISH DRAMATIST

Owls make more noise than you might think. Despite their ability to fly almost silently, members of the Stringiformes order don’t just hoot, they also screech, bark, and even growl. PHOTO BY RYAN BONNEAU


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