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S U M M E R / FA L L 2 015 VOLUME 33, NO. 1

Magazine

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POKER AT ALTITUDE • BASQUE SHEPHERDS IN THE SAN JUANS TELLURIDE’S CYCLING SCENE • TARANTINO DOES TELLURIDE CONFESSIONS OF A PEAK BAGGER • FICTION: ANTONYA NELSON


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12 • SUMMER/FALL 2015

CONTENTS

DEPARTMENTS

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WITHIN Into Focus: A look at what’s inside this issue.

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CALENDAR OF EVENTS The who, what, where, and when in Telluride this season.

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TELLURIDE TURNS Headlines and highlights from the local news.

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FICTION Telluride Magazine is proud to kick off the new Fiction department with “The There There,” an excerpt by renowned local author Antonya Nelson.

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ENVIRONMENT Find out why Rico is the new hot spot.

FEATURES

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Confessions of a (Former) Peak Bagger

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Ovine Adventures

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The Cycling Scene in Telluride

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Quentin Tarantino Does Telluride

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Reaching the summit is never guaranteed.

The century-old tradition of Basque sheepherding in the San Juan Mountains.

Only one of the 95 Rules of Cycling applies to Telluride: Number five.

Hollywood comes to town to shoot The Hateful Eight on special, large-format film.

History: Old Tom Breckenridge Meet one of the heroes of the Old West.

Poker at Altitude

Rob Story gives us an insider’s perspective of his weekly card game.

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MOUNTAIN HEALTH Low energy? Try qi gong.

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ASK JOCK Athletic advice from our local mountain guru.

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TELLURIDE FACES Meet the running guru, the bike whisperer, and the outdoor educator.

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TELLURIDE FESTIVALS Enjoying The RIDE, with festival producer Janice Zink.

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INSIDE ART Shakespeare in the Park turns 25, and the Wayfinding Project.

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A LAST LOOK The Falls Wall, by Brett Shreckengost www.TellurideMagazine.com

SUMMER/FALL 2015


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14 • SUMMER/FALL 2015

Contributors

Magazine

TELLURIDE MAGAZINE IS PRODUCED BY TELLURIDE PUBLISHING LLC, A LOCALLY OWNED AND OPERATED COMPANY. PUBLISHER

TELLURIDE PUBLISHING LLC ~~~ ADVERTISING EXECUTIVE

JENNY PAGE

ALLISON PERRY Allison Perry (Confessions of a [Former] Peak Bagger, p. 32) was born and raised in New York City, and attended college in Wisconsin and law school in Ohio. In 2010 she decided to trade skirt suits for ski pants, and bought a one-way ticket to Colorado to become a ski bum and a writer. Perry enjoys venturing into the San Juans on foot and on skis, and has learned to have gratitude for her failures just as she does her successes, a new Telluride-centric shift in attitude she blames almost entirely on El Diente Peak (and maybe a little bit on lower Bear Creek).

~~~ EDITOR

DEB DION KEES ~~~

CREATIVE DIRECTOR

KRISTAL RHODES ~~~

DISTRIBUTION

TELLURIDE DELIVERS ~~~

WEB ADMINISTRATOR

SUSAN HAYSE

ANTONYA NELSON Antonya Nelson (Fiction: “The There There,” p. 22) is the author of four novels and seven collections of stories, the most recent of which is Funny Once. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, New York Times Magazine, Sunset, and elsewhere. She teaches creative writing at the University of Houston and in the Warren Wilson MFA Program. She has spent every summer of her life in Telluride.

~~~

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS

Martinique Davis, Elizabeth Guest, Geoff Hanson, Katie Klingsporn, Jesse James McTigue, Antonya Nelson, Allison Perry, Paul O’Rourke, Rob Story, Lance Waring ~~~

CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS

Ryan Bonneau, Kirsten Cohen. Brenda Colwell, Braden Gunem, Jim Hurst, Ingrid Lundahl, Brett Schreckengost, Whit Richardson ~~~

WWW.TELLURIDEMAGAZINE.COM

WHIT RICHARDSON Whit Richardson (Cover, Within, p. 15) has been lugging a camera around on his adventures since the early 90s, inspired by dramatic and wild landscapes and the challenge of creating truly unique photos instead of generic shots. He captures the priceless and magical views of the Southwest, from stormy mountain peaks to the red rock desert and everything between, but even an artist needs to eat, so in the last ten years he’s also focused his lens on high-end architecture and real estate. You can check out his portfolio at whitrichardson.com or follow him on Instagram at whitphotography.

www.TellurideMagazine.com

SUMMER/FALL 2015

Telluride Publishing produces the San Juan Skyway Visitor Guide and Telluride Magazine. Current and past issues are available on our website.. © 2015 Telluride Publishing L.L.C. For editorial inquiries call 970.708.0060 or email deb@telluridemagazine.com For advertising information call 970.729.0913 or email jenny@telluridemagazine.com 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. ~~~ ON THE COVER

Photographer Whit Richardson captures two people hiking at twilight in the high alpine playground in Bridal Veil Basin.


WITHIN

Since 1975 Historic Telluride’s Victorian Pharmacy aaaaa

Prescriptions Natural/Organic Products Drug & Health Aids Homeopathic Remedies Greeting Cards T-shirts & Hats Unique Souvenirs aaaaa

970.728.3601

Whit Richardson

236 West Colorado Avenue

Into Focus

T

he human brain processes 50 bits of information per second, but our senses gather some 11 million bits of information per second from our environment. That’s a lot of background noise… our conscious minds are forced to pick and choose what to examine and focus on, leaving the rest of the world to whiz past in a blur. Maybe that’s why time seems to pass so quickly—we’re constantly inundated with such a barrage of stimuli that we can’t even process it. But when we relax and focus, life slows down. Like the shepherds (pp. 34–36) who escape to the San Juan Mountains every summer, away from the clatter of city life; nomads who set up camp alone, walking the flocks for hundreds of miles and living simply with just a book or a radio and thousands of bleating sheep for company. Or the mountain men who gather around a poker table (pp.48–49) forgoing outdoor pursuits, work, and everything else to focus on two things: cards and competition. And the cyclists in Telluride (pp. 38–40) who push their limits on two wheels, zeroing in on one thing only—the

daunting climb ahead—while the rest of the world falls away. Quentin Tarantino is perfecting the art of focus with the film he created in Telluride this winter (pp. 42–43). The Hateful Eight hearkens back to a simpler time, the Old West during the post-Civil War era, but the film also celebrates the bygone era of film, using the ultra-large format celluloid that was last used in the 1960s. The medium captures every detail in an achingly beautiful way, creating the kind of viewing experience that marked movies decades ago—an all-encompassing, completely absorbing way to spend a couple of hours being entertained. We hope you have the same kind of experience with this issue. Relax, settle in, and block out all the background noise that surrounds you. Focus in and let time stop for a little while as you read and flip through the pages, because life is too short not to enjoy the moments we have.

Deb Dion Kees

Deb Dion Kees, Editor, Telluride Magazine

Telluride Publishing produces the San Juan Skyway Visitor Guide, and the award-winning Telluride Magazine

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15


16 • EVENTS CALENDAR

MAY GONDOLA OPENS FOR SUMMER/FALL SEASON 21 22–25 MOUNTAINFILM IN TELLURIDE – The festival celebrates the outdoors,

featuring films about adventure and ecology, symposiums, and lectures. mountainfilm.org

JUNE 4 SMITHSONIAN SCIENCE HOW? – Catch the live webcast with

Smithsonian anthropologist Joshua A. Bell “Unseen Connections: A Natural History of the Cell Phone,” at the library. pinheadinstitute.org

1–6 WILD WEST FEST – Celebrate the culture of the West at this weeklong, family-oriented festival hosted by the Sheridan Arts Foundation. sheridanoperahouse.com

5–7 TELLURIDE BALLOON FESTIVAL – Watch hot air balloons soar above the San Miguel Valley or stroll past them, tethered and aglow on main street during the early evening. Balloons launch at sunrise, weather permitting.

9 PRESERVATION HALL JAZZ BAND – Groove to the traditional New

Orleans style jazz of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band at the Sheridan Opera House. sheridanoperahouse.com

11–14 TELLURIDE WOW FESTIVAL – A weekend festival celebrating fitness,

wellness, and health with presentations and events. telluridewow.com

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

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DROP-IN CLASSES AT THE AH HAA SCHOOL FOR THE ARTS The Ah Haa School offers open drop-in classes in addition to its year-round classes for adults and youth, workshops, art trips and retreats, lectures, exhibitions and special events. Join Robert Weatherford for Painting from Within on Monday 9:30 a.m. –1:30 p.m. from June 1 through August 31. Art History Lectures with Paul Evans are June 23–25. Artist Talk with Jim Romberg is August 14. Screenwriters in the Sky is September 11–13. Telluride Photography Festival is September 28–October 4. Telluride Painting School is October 11–November 20. Check out the full schedule of classes and exhibitions online. ahhaa.org. BOOKS AND WRITING Book discussions are held over libations at 5:15 p.m. on the third Thursday of every month at Rico’s Bar in the Ice House Lodge, and a casual writing group meets from 6–8 p.m. at the library on the second Thursday of each month. telluridelibrary.org

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FITNESS AND MEDITATION AT THE LIBRARY Wilkinson Public Library hosts a variety of free fitness classes, including Zumba, yoga, Pilates and more. There is also a dharma talk and meditation program offered on the fourth Wednesday of every month at 5:30 p.m. Check out the schedule at telluridelibrary.org

SUMMER/FALL 2015

18–21 TELLURIDE BLUEGRASS FESTIVAL – This year marks the 42nd annual

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Ryan Bonneau

Summer/Fall 2015

festival, one of the country’s most renowned bluegrass music events, held during the weekend of the summer solstice. This year’s lineup includes Ry Cooder/Sharon White/Ricky Skaggs, Lake Street Dive, Yonder Mountain String Band, Punch Brothers, Trampled by Turtles, and more. bluegrass. com/telluride

25–28 TELLURIDE WINE FESTIVAL – The festival features four days of

fine wines, seminars, tastings, winemakers’ luncheons, and cooking demonstrations. telluridewinefestival.com

24 SUNSET CONCERT SERIES – Free outdoor music on Wednesday evenings from 6–8 p.m. at the Sunset Stage in Mountain Village. townofmountainvillage.com

29–5 11TH ANNUAL TELLURIDE PLEIN AIR FESTIVAL – Landscape artists

from across the country come to paint the region’s vistas; plein air painting is done outdoors, and the art is exhibited and sold to benefit the event’s host, the Sheridan Arts Foundation. The “Quick Draw” competition is July 3 and the exhibit and sale are July 4–5. sheridanoperahouse.com

JULY 1, 8, 15, 22, 29 SUNSET CONCERT SERIES – Free outdoor music on

Wednesday evenings from 6–8 p.m. at the Sunset Stage in Mountain Village. townofmountainvillage.com

3 RED, WHITE & BLUES CELEBRATION – Mountain Village kicks off the

Fourth of July celebrations with events in the Heritage and Sunset plazas. townofmountainvillage.com

3 JOE, A TRIBUTE TO JOE COCKER – Celebrate the life of singer and philanthropist Joe Cocker. sheridanoperahouse.com

4 RUNDOLA – The Rundola is an annual foot race from the base of the

gondola in Telluride to the top of the ridge adjacent to the gondola midstation. The race is organized by the Telluride Foundation.

4 TELLURIDE 4TH OF JULY CELEBRATION – Telluride’s Independence

Day features a parade, a community barbecue, games and activities for families in Town Park, and a grand fireworks display after dark.

9–12 TELLURIDE YOGA FESTIVAL – Yoga instructors from all over the world convene in Telluride to offer workshops in all types of yoga, meditation, and kirtan. tellurideyogafestival.com

10–11 TELLURIDE AMERICAN SONGBOOK FESTIVAL – Two days of top

performers paying homage to classic show tunes. The weekend program is called “The Song is You,” and performances are held at the Palm Theatre. telluridepalm.com

11–12 THE RIDE FESTIVAL – KOTO Community Radio hosts a two-day music

concert in Town Park, featuring Widespread Panic, Gov’t Mule, Jonny Lang, Trigger Hippy, North Mississippi Allstars, and more. ridefestival.com

11–13 HARDROCK HUNDRED – The Hardrock Hundred is a grueling 100.5-mile ultramarathon through the San Juan Mountains, starting and finishing in Silverton, Colorado.


18 • EVENTS CALENDAR

13–17 STUART LITTLE – Sheridan Arts Foundation’s Young People’s Theater

hosts the final performance of its Summer Spectacular program on July 17, at 1 p.m., and admission is free. This year’s performance is Stuart Little. sheridanoperahouse.com

15–18 TELLURIDE AMERICANA MUSIC FESTIVAL – Catch the 9th annual Telluride Americana Music Festival, showcasing songwriters, at the Sheridan Opera House. sheridanoperahouse.com

17 AH HAA ART AUCTION – This madcap annual fundraiser for the local

arts school features a live auction with entertainment and a silent auction for all types of artwork and prizes. This year’s theme is “The Wizard of Ahz” with celebrity artist Jewel. ahhaa.org

17 NORMAN FOOTE – Internationally acclaimed musician, songwriter,

comedian, and puppeteer Norman Foote plays an all-ages show at the Palm Theatre. Foote won the Juno Award for Best Children’s Album and his performances are notorious for their outrageous props and humor. telluridepalm.com

Ryan Bonneau

23–31 KOTO BIRTHDAY BASH – KOTO community radio celebrates its 40th JULY

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LAWNCHAIR CLASSICS Classic films are shown outdoors for free on the conference center plaza in Mountain Village at sunset. June 16: Ghostbusters, June 23: Princess Bride, June 30: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, July 7: The Lion King. MARKET ON THE PLAZA Mountain Village hosts a farm and craft market with food, art, and jewelry produced in Colorado. The market is held at the Heritage Plaza June 17 through August 19, each Wednesday from 1–4 p.m. townofmountainvillage.com

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PUNK SCIENCE The Pinhead Institute stages fun, interactive science experiments (atomic reactions, chemistry, physics, and more) for kids with PhD scientists on Tuesday evenings from 5:15–6 p.m. at Wilkinson Public Library for free from June 30 through August 4. Pinhead also hosts Mini Missions, Robotics, Computer Programming and other fun summer camps for kids—check out their full schedule online. pinheadinstitute.org

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RELIVING HISTORY Telluride Historical Museum hosts several programs periodically throughout the summer and fall, including Historic Walking Tours every Thursday afternoon at 1 p.m. (June through August) and Lone Tree Cemetery Tours every Friday afternoon at 1 p.m. (June 12 through October 9), and Fireside Chats in Norwood and Mountain Village on Wednesday and Thursday evenings in August. telluridemuseum.org STORYTIME AND SUPERHEROES FOR KIDS The Wilkinson Public Library hosts storytime for children at 11 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. The library will also screen superhero movies at 1 p.m. on Fridays from June 12–July 31. telluridelibrary.org SUNDAY AT THE PALM Telluride Film Festival, Telluride Foundation, and Telluride’s R-1 School District present family-friendly films on the first Sunday of each month at 4 p.m. at the Palm Theatre.

SUMMER/FALL 2015

anniversary with a party in Town Park on July 23 and kicks off its week of onair fundraising. Tune in as Telluride’s listener-supported radio station features guest DJs, prizes, and fun on the air as they take donations. koto.org

24 JUGGLING, MAGIC, AND COMEDY – Ann Lincoln takes the stage at the Palm Theatre to perform magic, juggling, circus skills, and comedy. Ann Lincoln shows are fun for all ages. telluridepalm.com

25 TELLURIDE 100 – The inaugural 100-mile mountain bike race starts and

finishes in Telluride and participants gain approximately 18,000 feet in elevation on the grueling course. Riders must purchase a Colorado Search & Rescue card to race. 970.417.1751

18–25 A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM – The tradition of “Shakespeare in

the Park” continues this summer with Telluride Theatre’s performance of the bard’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. This is the 25th anniversary of Shakespeare in the Park, with performances at the Town Park Stage. telluridetheatre.org

15–19 ART + ARCHITECTURE WEEKEND – Take a tour of the art installations,

architectural demonstrations, and samples of design work and culinary arts at the Art + Architecture Weekend. Participants vote for their favorites at the closing party. telluridearts.org

21–26 TELLURIDE PLAYWRIGHTS FESTIVAL – The festival offers a laboratory setting for actors, playwrights, and directors to network and to nurture new work. playwrightsfestival.org

31 KOTO DUCK RACE – Sponsor a yellow rubber duck, and if it floats down

the San Miguel River fast enough, you can win a variety of prizes including a 2015-16 ski pass. The event is a benefit for KOTO community radio. koto.org

31–2 TELLURIDE JAZZ CELEBRATION – From international jazz legends to

up-and-coming brass ensembles, the annual festival hosts the best of the genre at Town Park during the day and at the local venues in the evening. This year’s lineup features Ernie Watts, The M&Ms, Euforquestra, The Soul Rebels, and more. telluridejazz.org

AUGUST 1 BALLET COLLECTIVE – The Palm Arts Dance program hosts a ballet

company in residency, the Ballet Collective, a critically acclaimed troupe led by artistic director Troy Schumacher and comprised of many talented New York City ballet dancers. The Ballet Collective’s residency will offer a public performance on Aug. 1 at the Palm Theatre. telluridepalm.com

5, 12, 19 SUNSET CONCERT SERIES – Free outdoor music on Wednesday evenings from 6–8 p.m. at the Sunset Stage in Mountain Village. townofmountainvillage.com

6–16 TELLURIDE CHAMBER MUSIC FESTIVAL – Classical music concerts

are held outdoors, at the Sheridan Opera House, and in various venues around town. There is a free concert in Town Park at 6 p.m. on August 7 to kick off the week’s events. telluridechambermusic.org

8 JEWEL – Jewel, a singer-songwriter and guitarist who has been

nominated for four Grammy awards, performs live at the Sheridan Opera House. sheridanoperahouse.com

11 EVERYMAN – Catch the live broadcast of the National Theatre

performance of Everyman at the Palm Theatre. telluridepalm.com

13–16 TELLURIDE MUSHROOM FESTIVAL – Symposiums, classes,

forays, and a parade all celebrate fungi in this fun weekend event. telluridemushroomfest.org

14 TOP CHEF & TASTE OF TELLURIDE – Telluride’s best culinary artists

compete for the coveted title in this annual fundraiser for One to One Mentoring. onetoonetelluride.org


20 • EVENTS CALENDAR

19 JENNY LEWIS – Jenny Lewis, a singer-songwriter with an indie/folk/soul sound and an impressive résumé on the festival circuit (Lollapalooza, Coachella, etc.) performs at Club Red in Mountain Village.

21–22 TELLURIDE THEATRE – A new event for Telluride Theatre, featuring Telluride Theatre Orchestra Band, singers, and dancers presenting the entire Michael Jackson album, Thriller. The performance will be theatricalized and staged at the Palm. telluridetheatre.org

27–28 TELLURIDE AMERICAN SONGBOOK FESTIVAL – Two days of top

performers paying homage to classic show tunes. The weekend program is called “And the World Goes Round,” and performances are held at the Palm Theatre. telluridepalm.com

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28–29 PRETTY LIGHTS – Pretty Lights features instrument-based psychedelic

hip-hop music, and the group will perform two outdoor shows at Telluride Town Park.

30 AN EVENING WITH KEN BURNS – Telluride Historical Museum hosts a

screening of Prohibition, and an audience Q&A with famed documentary filmmaker Ken Burns.

SEPTEMBER 4–7 TELLURIDE FILM FESTIVAL – Telluride hosts an internationally acclaimed film festival with world premieres, movie stars, filmmakers, directors, and a free outdoor cinema. The lineup is always kept secret until the day before the festival, but in five of the last six years TFF premieres have gone on to win “Best Picture” Academy Awards. telluridefilmfestival.org

12 IMOGENE PASS RUN – Runners start in Ouray and cross over 13,114-foot Ryan Bonneau

Imogene Pass, a 17.1-mile course with more than 5,000 feet of elevation gain, finishing in Telluride. imogenerun.com

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SUNSET CONCERT SERIES Mountain Village hosts free outdoor concerts on various Wednesday evenings throughout the summer, from 6-8 p.m. on the Sunset Plaza. townofmountainvillage.com TELLURIDE ARTS On the first Thursday of each month, the Telluride Art Walk celebrates art at the local galleries from 5–8 p.m., with a self-guided tour of the exhibits in downtown Telluride. A dozen venues open their doors to showcase new exhibits and artists, and restaurants feature art walk specials. Maps are available from local businesses and Telluride Arts. telluridearts.org TELLURIDE FARMERS MARKET Telluride hosts one of the few all-organic, pesticide-free farmers markets in the state each Friday on South Oak Street from 11 a.m.–4 p.m. from June 5 through October.

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18–20 TELLURIDE BLUES & BREWS FESTIVAL – This popular fall music festival features craft beers from all over the country and a beer tasting, as well as big name music acts in Town Park and at late night “Juke Joints” performances in local venues. This year’s lineup includes ZZ Top, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Gregg Allman, Taj Mahal, and John Hiatt. tellurideblues.com

24–27 TELLURIDE FESTIVAL OF CARS & COLORS – New this year is a celebration for automobile enthusiasts with the mountain foliage as a backdrop.

26 MOUNTAINS TO DESERT RIDE & TELLURIDE 200 – Cyclists race from Telluride to Gateway Canyons Resort (or past the resort into the Unaweep Canyon for longer distance) in this annual fundraiser for the Just for Kids Foundation, which supports youth in the San Miguel watershed region. m2dbikeride.com

OCTOBER BRAVO - A fun fundraiser for San Miguel Resource Center, in conjunction 15  with Ah Haa School for the Arts, where artists decorate brassieres in outlandish style and male models hit the runway and auction them off. ahhaa.org

16–18 TELLURIDE HORROR SHOW – The newest film festival in Telluride,

Telluride Horror Show screens independent horror, fantasy, and sci-fi movies and hosts special programs, a pig roast, and industry guests. telluridehorrorshow.com

16, 23 & 30 LAMPLIGHT CEMETERY TOURS – Telluride Historical Museum

puts a seasonal spin on their Lone Tree Cemetery Tours, holding them at night by lamplight. Purchase tickets at the museum or online and meet at 6 p.m. at the cemetery gate. telluridemuseum.org

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.

19 GONDOLA CLOSES FOR OFF-SEASON 30 ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW – Telluride Theatre and the Palm

TSRC TOWN TALKS Telluride Science Research Center brings speakers on various science topics to hold discussions on Tuesday evenings at 6 p.m. from June 16 through August 4 at the Telluride Conference Center, Telluride Elementary School, and the Sheridan Opera House. telluridescience.org

30 KOTO HALLOWEEN BASH – KOTO hosts a costume party for Halloween

TECH PROGRAMS AT THE LIBRARY The Wilkinson Public Library “Tech Guy” offers free technology consultations from 2–3 p.m. on Thursdays and 5–6 p.m. on Tuesdays. telluridelibrary.org

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Theatre present a screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show featuring live theatrics by the local troupe, with full audience participation, costumes, and surprises. telluridetheatre.org at the Sheridan Opera House. koto.org

31 HAUNTED HOSPITAL – A spooky Halloween tour from 7–9:30 p.m. at

the Telluride Historical Museum (which was once an old miners’ hospital). telluridemuseum.org

NOVEMBER 6–8 KOTO SKI SWAP – Sell your old gear or pick up some new gear at this

annual fundraiser for KOTO community radio, held at the Wilkinson Public Library. koto.org

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GONDOLA OPENS FOR WINTER SEASON TELLURIDE SKI RESORT OPENS FOR 2015-16 WINTER SEASON


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22 • TELLURIDE TURNS

Panhandling Prohibition

Headlines & Highlights FROM THE LOCAL NEWS

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From Prairie Dogs to Elk

huge colony of prairie dogs that staked its claim to the Valley Floor at the entrance to Telluride seems to have diminished. For several years, citizens plagued by the creatures (they were difficult to avoid with a vehicle as they darted across Highway 145) complained about their ubiquitous presence and hotly debated their eradication—should they be exterminated, left alone, or humanely relocated? In the end,

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predation by badgers and coyote, natural population cycles, and some creative irrigation techniques by the town likely caused their numbers to drop. That doesn’t mean the end to traffic problems next to the Valley Floor. A large herd of elk has taken up permanent residence on those hundreds of acres of undeveloped land by the Highway 145 Spur, apparently with some innate knowledge about the

Ryan Bonneau

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Valley Floor restrictions on hunting and roaming dogs. But their presence has created a different kind of problem than the dodging and weaving around prairie dogs: Now traffic slows almost to a halt with people straining to watch the elk, and vehicles pull over at all kind of random places to take pictures of the herd. It does create a driving hazard, but at least people are shooting photos instead of innocent prairie dogs. \

Telluride Medical Center to Move to Mountain Village

he Telluride Medical Center has outgrown its current location in the town of Telluride, and late last year the Telluride Hospital District agreed to move the center’s operations to a loca-

tion in Mountain Village, a site with more space and still in proximity to the ski resort. According to the hospital district, the medical center saw a record number of patients in 2014. The new facility will

include an expanded primary care clinic, an emergency room, space for visiting specialists, overnight observation beds, and a helipad on the upper level of the gondola parking structure. \

No Fast Track for School Expansion Plans

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oters last year approved a $24 million bond for the Telluride R-1 School District to fund its expansion—but they did so by just a small margin of 24 votes, and some of the dissention has resurfaced during www.TellurideMagazine.com

the project’s approval process. The expansion plans met with vocal opposition and the town council and HARC (the Historical and Architectural Review Commission) have slowed down approvals for the project, cit-

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ing numerous concerns about emergency access, utility easements, parking, and more. The district still hopes to expedite the approval process to have construction occur this summer, while school is not in session. \

f you’re looking for spare change, you might want to try Mountain Village. Telluride Town Council voted unanimously in April to pass an ordinance restricting “aggressive” panhandling. Solicitors cannot intimidate, threaten, use language meant to cause a fight, or block the path of the person being solicited. The first draft of the ordinance was even more restrictive than that—but it met with criticism from the American Civil Liberties Union. The group argued that some of the restricted behavior was protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution, which safeguards free speech. The ACLU challenged similar panhandling laws in Grand Junction, Colorado Springs, and Fort Collins, but the town council here did not want to tango legally, and instead sculpted the ordinance according to the ACLU’s recommendations. \

High Country Hoarding

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heriff Bill Masters has seen a lot of crazy things in his 35 decades of law enforcement, but what he discovered in the woods off the Jud Wiebe trail was so bizarre that he pulled out his phone and documented it on video. (The video, posted on YouTube, has thousands of hits.) There was a makeshift camp with so much trash—more than a hundred yards of skis, clothing, refuse, and odd objects—that it was impassible and a small shelter was completely obscured and spilling with the mess. The likely suspect made daily trips from the Free Box for an undetermined (but no doubt lengthy) amount of time before he was jailed for another offense. The video garnered local attention and outrage from the community and a volunteer task force was assembled by Harold Wondsel, the local patron saint of the Free Box, to conduct a massive cleanup. \


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24 • FICTION

The There There

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By Antonya Nelson

nce, when they were still a family and the boys were mostly grown yet still living at home, they were sitting, the four of them, at their customary seats at the kitchen table discussing the perfect crime. That is, the murder you would get away with. “Out on the ocean,” said their eldest, Will. He had just returned from a college recruiting trip to UCSB, so the ocean would naturally come to mind. “You could rent a boat, get them a little tipsy, then dump them overboard. Later you would tell the cops you searched and searched.” “If it was a girl she could be on her period,” added his little brother, Drew. “To explain the sharks.” Though he was the younger, he already had more experience with girls and their periods; he’d imagined maybe his difficult girlfriend on that boat. “If she was on her period,” he went on, “you could also go into the forest and wait for a bear . . . ” “You’d have to do some weeping to the authorities,” Caroline said, ignoring the disapproval radiating from her husband, “but not too much. Shock tends to dry up the tear glands.” “Or,” said Will, “I also like the idea of putting poison in a pill that’s a prescription, so the victim will take it who knows when.” “You’d have to want to kill a pill taker,” Caroline said. “A capsule-pill taker. And you’d have to find some poison that fit inside it.” “My perfect murder,” said Drew, “would be where there are two people and each of them whacks the

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other one’s enemy. Some strangerson-the-plane kind of thing.” “Train,” said Will. “Not plane. Mom?” “Up in the mountains,” Caroline said. For many years she’d not really lived anywhere but Telluride; when she took her daily hike, she always half expected to find a body, an aspen-limb-like leg or arm amid the blowdown. “Up somewhere high and remote, some slippery trail. Maybe after a wine-and-cheesepicnic tryst situation, way above the timberline, just where the trail starts to have frozen spots. One tiny misstep and, whoops, over they go.” Gerald rose from the table and set his breakfast dishes gently in the sink, that condemning clink of porcelain on porcelain. He was saddened by the conversation, disappointed in his family, his closest associates. The boys hung their heads, regretful, silenced; they would later make it up to him and he would forgiving them, but how much more horrified her husband would have been to know that it was him Caroline was imagining, standing too close to the edge at the picnic tryst, next tumbling over a cliff.

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hat August Will moved to Santa Barbara, where he rented an apartment from a Peruvian woman named Adora Zabron. His parents heard about the landlady frequently, her gift for all things domestic, gardening, cooking, kindness. Will changed his major at UCSB to international studies (he’d intended to study phi-

SUMMER/FALL 2015

losophy), and then, after his first year (three classes in Spanish; maybe they should have seen it coming), he was clearly more than merely her tenant and young hungry friend. Caroline’s son was in love with a woman her age. His brother, Drew, then sixteen, could not quite solve this confounding dilemma, no matter how many times he played with the pieces, no matter his angle of approach. A true conundrum. “When Will’s thirty,” Drew would say, “she will be fifty-six.” His father the romantic said, “Love is not logical.” “And when Will’s forty—” “Love is not about math.” Adora Zabron had two daughters older than Will who still lived with her. In his second year of college, he moved from the apartment into their home on the ocean. He returned to Telluride for holidays, and then Drew took his first trip alone to visit in California. This visit did nothing to solve the riddle of his brother’s romance; he told Caroline, confidentially, that were he in Will’s shoes he would opt for one of the daughters, that they were both very pretty but the mother was, “Well, no offense, because you definitely don’t, Mom, but Adora even smells old. Nothing like you. She’s exactly opposite of you.” Now who was the most perplexed? Her son had apparently chosen a woman who was not Caroline in every way except the most alarming one of her age. The Peruvian, Drew reported, was frequently overwhelmed by feelings that brought on tears. “Happy tears,” he clarified. “She hugs everyone. She

cried at the airport and gave me this necklace so the plane wouldn’t crash.” When the family took their annual trip abroad that summer, Will for the first time declined to join them. Drew missed his brother. There was nobody to share the tiny back seat of the rental car. Nobody to race around the ruins. Nobody to go adventuring at night into Rome’s or Florence’s or Siena’s streets. Drew simply had his placid parents, Caroline pondering the people, and her husband, an engineer by trade, marveling at ancient ingenuity. At the Colosseum, they had an unfortunate encounter. An American couple were bickering bitterly in the shadow of the structure. “Where the hell are we?” the man shouted at his wife, who told him she didn’t fucking know, hurling the guidebook in his direction, both of them sunburned in their too-tight red Tshirts. Caroline had begun laughing, her hand on Drew’s shoulder as they both turned away tittering. But her husband had taken pity on the couple, offering a kind smile and a patient explanation of their map. He did not like to have fun at the expense of others. “But Dad,” Drew tried later, hoping to explain himself, “I mean, it was the Colosseum. That’s like not seeing the Grand Canyon until you fell in it, like, it’s the there there.” But Gerald refused to be amused. And then, by year’s end, he left Caroline for another woman. How alarming this was to her. She had for years believed that it was she who had the choice, she who could claim the martyr’s virtue of staying when she wished to go. Her pride injured,


Caroline indulged in her old fantasy of Gerald’s death; she would have far preferred widowhood to divorce. He was leaving her, he explained, because love had struck him, unexpectedly, without his asking for it, like lightning. “Oh bullshit,” Caroline said. “Even I know the function of the so-called lightning rod.” “You won’t miss me,” Gerald said. “You’ll miss the idea of me, but not me.” Which was indeed true. Scorched by an idea, stung by a role suddenly undone, and, finally, zinged by her husband’s smarts about the whole thing.

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rew should have gone to college on one of the coasts; he should have had the same kind of adventure as his brother (minus the aged Peruvian). But he couldn’t bear to leave his mother, so he went in-state instead. That was her second boy, cursed with loyalty, and guilt, and softness. That dreamy look in his eyes. His brother, meanwhile, married Adora Zabron. His parents were not invited to the ceremony (civil; witnessed by his two new stepdaughters, those beauties) and were told, when they asked, that gifts were not necessary. Adora and he already possessed all the required gadgets and appliances and stemware. If they wished, his family could donate funds to rescue an endangered animal or build a sewage system for orphans somewhere in the Third World. It wasn’t just his abandoned mother (his betraying father) who was responsible for Drew’s choosing to study close to home. There was also his girlfriend, Crystal Hurd. She’d been his best friend since they were children. The nearby tomboy neighbor with her bully brothers and their de-scented pet skunk. For the whole of eighth grade she and Drew had feuded and not spoken; then they had sex in the ninth grade and were once again inseparable, yet in a way quite unlike their former inseparability. No longer did Crystal walk into Caroline’s house without knocking. No more opening the cookie jar and helping herself to a treat. Instead of calling Caroline by her first name, she used no name at all to address her. In fact, when she spoke it was exclusively to Drew, as if she’d never had her bottom wiped by Caroline, or gum snipped very gently from her quite long and ratty hair. Crystal’s parents worked at the same places Drew’s did, but in utterly different capacities. Her father served on the crew reclaiming the

“Made with Care,” mixed media on reclaimed wood, by artist Brittany Miller from her “You Are Here” series.

mine ruins, wearing a hard hat, while Gerald supervised from a trailer. Her mother was a lunch lady and custodian at the high school where Caroline had taught English before being promoted to vice principal. Labor and management. Drew came home frequently from college, and Crystal joined him in his bedroom, yet when they emerged neither looked pleased. He missed Crystal, he told Caroline, when he was in Fort Collins, but at home he didn’t wish to see her. He wanted his old feelings, Caroline believed. They were gone and he resented Crystal’s not being able to inspire them any longer. During his second semester, he returned only once, for spring break. By the time summer came around, he had met Elizabeth. Never Beth, Liz, or any other nicknames, always the full royal title. Drew kept his mother apprised of the marvelous and mys-

terious Elizabeth: her father the Manhattan lawyer! Her penthouse childhood! Her current astonishing inability to operate a motor vehicle! For her part, Crystal seemed to have talked herself into thinking of this rift like the eighth-grade one: a necessary separation that would yield, eventually, another reunion, an intimacy as yet unknown. Caroline didn’t think it likely. Drew’s Elizabeth was heading back to New York for the summer, and he planned to go with her. There would be no European vacation this year, and when Caroline lay alone in the Telluride house where they’d all lived for so long, she imagined her former family members pinned on a U.S. map, each man with another woman, one on the West Coast, one on the East, and her ex-husband relocated two hours south. How had it turned out that she was the only one sleeping by herself? …

The complete story “The There There” can be read at telluridemagazine.com. This piece is an excerpt from Antonya Nelson’s latest book, Funny Once, published by Bloomsbury and available this summer in paperback. \

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26 • ENVIRONMENT

Rico: The Hot Spot TOWN IDENTIFIES MASSIVE GEOTHERMAL POTENTIAL

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rive through Rico on a summer day, and the streets are usually empty except for a few old trucks next to the Enterprise bar, the small coffee house, or the modest post office, and maybe a couple of people walking around beneath the mountains and wilderness that surround the enclave. Rico is a sleepy mining town 27 miles southwest of here, home to about 400 people and in effect a bedroom community for Telluride, where most of its denizens travel for work. But the town has a secret bubbling and boiling just below www.TellurideMagazine.com

its surface. A hidden, powerful resource that could invigorate and revive the entire region. Geologists call it the “Rico Dome,” and it is an extraordinarily large area with an extremely high geothermal gradient. What that means in plain talk is that there’s a whole lot of very, very hot water below ground—scientists believe it is the second largest such resource in the state, second only to Princeton Hot Springs, which has already been developed. Looking at the map pinpointing geothermal resources on the state, there’s a giant, dark blob where the town of

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Rico exists. Enough of a resource, they say, to at least develop the shallow reserves for a hot springs resort/pool or a greenhouse, and perhaps even to tap deeper and provide geothermal power for the town and the surrounding regions. The town’s officials first learned of the hot spot when a group called MegaMoly approached them with a development plan for mining, housing, real estate, and geothermal that included the map. That proposal dissolved, but the town’s interest was piqued. “We came to realize that we had this resource that was so much more than a

couple of hot springs,” says Matt Downer, a former trustee and a member of the geothermal subcommittee. “It’s very exciting. The potential is massive. But we’re still looking into what would be the most reasonable path forward. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.” It’s a marathon, though, that they are not running alone. There is an impressive roster of geologists and scientists who are helping to divine exactly where the resource exists, pinpoint the location with added data points that will tell them more about how hot, how deep, and where potential water »»


28 • ENVIRONMENT

Rico

flows are likely. Professor Masami Nakagawa from the Colorado School of Mines is a global expert on geothermal resources and has been to Rico numerous times with graduate students and field experts to do extensive surface studies. Nakagawa is set to return in August with visiting scholars from Japan and other students and scientists to finish his work, so they can have a clearer understanding of the data they’ve collected thus far. Until the whole underground picture comes into clearer focus, the most visible evidence of the hot spot is the bandit hot tub on the outskirts of town. The small makeshift tub draws from a remnant of the mining era, a shallow well hole that was bored, pulling up hot water that percolates from far below and mixing it with surface water. But even that hot water is far cooler than its source. The tub is in a disputed location, straddling various parcels of private property. The hot water that trickles up from below ground there, and in a www.TellurideMagazine.com

{

“We came to realize that we had this resource that was so much more than a couple of hot springs.”

few other spots in similar, parallel east-west faults in the valley, is just a hint of the massive resource that dwells underground. Downer says the town is approaching the whole concept of tapping the resource very cautiously. They have few employees, and a very small tax base, so the costs of drilling a test well or ultimately a bigger line that would require an injection well to re-circulate the water being tested are prohibitive. “It is a lot of upfront money. And unlike wind or solar, it’s not a resource that’s easily quantifiable. The work that the scientists are doing is academic in nature, but would also serve as a springboard to helping us find private investment. A public-private partnership is what the majority of folks in

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}

town would love to see happen.” There is less of a consensus in the town about exactly what kind of development the residents wish for. Downer says that most people favor some type of hot springs/pool and a greenhouse, which would require just shallow exploration, and that some people favor the kind of deeper geothermal energy development that could provide power for the town. But not everyone is on board with a wide-scale development that could provide power to the surrounding region. “The notion of a large power plant is less popular,” he says. In the meantime, nothing is changing below ground. The Rico Dome is on geologic time, which moves so slowly as to be imperceptible to humans. The dome itself is

an east-west anticlinactic fault from the Precambrian age, on the western edge of a giant rift characterized by the volcanic activity in the late Cenozoic era. There were also two distinct periods of “magmatic activity,” forming dikes that resulted in a hydrothermal plume of mineral deposits, which included some of the precious minerals that first drew industry to the town decades ago. During the mining era, some 5,000 people lived and worked in Rico, versus the few hundred people today. But perhaps those same geologic-volcanic-tectonic phenomena will also be responsible for a new, cleaner type of recreational/ energy industry coming to Rico. Downer says the possibilities are exciting. “The scientists are very enthusiastic, and that fortifies our belief that something great could happen here. If everything proves out, it could be wonderful for the future of Rico. A hot springs resort is easy to imagine. It could be transformative, entirely in the positive, for Rico and the region.” \


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30 • MOUNTAIN HEALTH

Low Energy? Try Qi Gong ANCIENT PRACTICE APPEALS TO MODERN PRACTITIONERS

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By Martinique Davis

ost of us think of energy as a commodity, something we either have enough of or are lacking. Yet in the context of Chinese medicine, energy is ever-present, everywhere (no caffeine necessary). One merely needs to tap into the unseen currents of energy that flow within and without the body, called qi (chi), to realize optimal health and wellness. And to do this, you need qi gong—the thousands-year-old art of refining and controlling the flow and balance of energy within the body. On a sunny morning in Telluride, I meet local acupuncturist and qi gong practitioner Josh Geetter at his office. He explains that qi gong is not merely an exercise regimen, but rather a stand-alone branch of Chinese medicine appropriate for people of all ages and health conditions. In his oriental medicine practice, Geetter utilizes qi gong alongside other modalities to address medical problems ranging from orthopedic injuries to cancer, but he tells me the practice also works on the mental and emotional level by helping to increase awareness of www.TellurideMagazine.com

{

“If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.” –Nikola Tesla

the physical-mental state. I tap feverishly at my computer and my brow furrows as I attempt to absorb the various constituents that comprise qi gong: its history, correlation to tai chi and kung fu, the lineage of its teachers. Then Geetter pauses. “It’s an experiential—not an intellectual—thing,” he finally says. “Let’s step outside.” In the warmth of rays streaming across the valley, he leads me through a series of postures and mindful movements that, he explains, help energy or qi to flow throughout the body. “It really appeals to the Telluride population because it’s a moving meditation,” he says as we move in harmony through the postures, drawing energy from the sky and the earth and sending it to the various energy centers of the body. Toward the end, he instructs me to wrap my arms around an imaginary beach ball. “See if you can feel the energy there.”

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}

And finally, my ah haa moment. I do feel the energy there! Qi gong has recently undergone a revival in Telluride thanks to a widening circle of local and visiting qi gong practitioners who, through clinics and regular classes, have helped introduce the practice to an eager community of athletes, outdoorspeople, spirit-seekers, and those looking for a clearer path to wellness. “There is all this energy all around us, from nature, from heaven, from other humans – but how receptive are you to it?” muses longtime qi gong practitioner Jason Troth, who has studied and taught this method of Chinese healing as a complement to his work as a holistic health practitioner in Telluride. Troth began practicing qi gong as a part of his training as a professional snowboarder, and realized such profound psychological and physical benefits that he began offering qi gong instruction to his

clients. He will be offering a qi gong class throughout the summer at the Wilkinson Public Library. “Qi is everywhere, in different forms, all around us; we’re connected to that stream whether we know it or not. Through this connection with qi we can improve our health dramatically,” Troth says. Receptivity and cultivation of qi are keys to realizing the benefits of the practice, and to do this, qi gong utilizes methods similar to yoga, increasing strength, balance, and flexibility. But unlike yoga, you don’t need a mat or props and it can be practiced anywhere, which is one of the reasons Telluride local Susie Meade regularly practices qi gong. She led a class over the winter at the Ah Haa School for the Arts, and is leading a class this summer in Town Park. She says she was initially drawn to qi gong as an alternative to yoga, but she gained so much from her own practice that she wanted to share the experience with others. “I feel like it has helped me to be more healthy on all levels,” she says. “By getting that stagnant energy flowing, you have more energy overall.” No caffeine necessary. \


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32 • ADVICE

Ask Jock ATHLETIC ADVICE FROM OUR LOCAL MOUNTAIN GURU

Bike Tool Kits Dear Jock, My boyfriend gave me a mountain bike for my birthday. Last week when we went for an inaugural ride, I got a flat tire on the Galloping Goose. He was so far ahead that I couldn’t call to him. So I walked to the road and hitched a ride home. Now I have no boyfriend, and I need to get a tool kit for my bike. What tools should I carry? —Seeking Self-Sufficiency on the Trail Dear Seeker, At a minimum, you want to carry the tools needed to fix a flat tire: a pair of tire levers, a pump, a spare tube, and a patch kit just in case you are smote with a second flat on the same ride. Some cyclists—those who believe in a beneficent universe—carry nothing more. Others bring enough tools to rebuild their bottom bracket halfway through a ride. Personally, I carry a chain tool, a spoke wrench, a set of allen keys, and a roll of duct tape. This basic tool kit has kept me from having to walk home, even after I sheared off my rear derailleur and turned my front wheel into a pretzel when I crashed miles from nowhere on the Hermosa Creek trail. Whatever you tools you bring, I also recommend a course in basic bicycle mechanics so that you’ll know how to use everything when the excrement hits the whirly blades. See you on the trail, — Jock

Q

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Bears and Trail Etiquette Dear Jock, I was hiking up Tomboy Road heading for the Owl Creek trail and two dudes on dirt bikes came flying past me at mach 4. I had to leap off the road to avoid being killed. As I was climbing out of the ditch, a mountain biker came sailing around the corner and nearly clocked me again. Finally, I got to the actual trail, was cruising along and enjoying some much-needed peace and quiet when I encountered a bear. By then, I was mad at the world so I start yelling and chucking rocks. Mr. Bruin ambled into the forest, then changed his mind and came lumbering back out at me. Suddenly, I remembered I’m not at the top of the food chain so I ran all the way home. My question is twofold. First, trail etiquette: I thought pedestrians had the right of way over bikers and motorized users. Secondly, what should I do if I encounter another grumpy bear? —Confused and Concerned Dear C and C, The answer to your first question is a conditional “yes.” In theory, pedestrians have right of way on the trail over bikes or motorized users. In practice, those priorities may be warped by speed, ignorance, or bad manners. It sounds like you encountered a combination of those on Tomboy road. I’m not certain that the rules of trail etiquette apply to a county road, even if it is remote and bumpy. Instead of debating the nuances of the situation, I’d say keep your eyes peeled and don’t get too hung up on the rules because not everybody knows them. (Speaking of rules, did you know that horses trump everyone else on the trail? It’s true. Everyone should step off the trail and give horses a wide berth, partially because it is the right thing to do and mostly because horses are giant and will kick and bite.) Regarding bears: Jock has always heard the local black bear population isn’t particularly fierce or much interested in humans. It sounds like you met the exception. Next time you meet a bear in its natural habitat, you could try a less antagonistic approach such as backing away slowly. Or you could yell louder and throw bigger rocks. Good luck with that, — Jock

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Tarp Run Tips Dear Jock, I’ve been coming to the Telluride Bluegrass Festival for many years. I love to set up close to center stage, so I can get my groove on with my man Sam Bush. I used to be plenty fast enough to win the tarp race. Now the years are catching up with me, and I’m getting aced out of my sweet tarp spot by the young bucks. How can I get back in the game? —Old and In the Way Dear Aging Festivarian, I suppose you could embark on a rigorous training schedule. If you start logging miles and running wind sprints in January, you’ll improve your speed and stamina a bit by June. But let’s face it. All that suffering isn’t going to guarantee you a prime tarp location when you’re competing with runners 20 years your junior. No, in this case, age and cunning must overcome youth and fitness. The key is to get pole position in the tarp run lineup the night before. Bring a cooler full of strong cocktails and a big bag of powerful marijuana edibles to share with everyone around you. But don’t partake yourself! When the time comes to run, you want your neighbors to be viciously hungover so you can outpace them to the front without pushing your heart rate up to dangerous levels. Save me a spot on your tarp, — Jock

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34 • ESSAY

Confessions Of A (Former) Peak Bagger THE PEAK IS JUST A POSSIBILITY

By Allison Perry

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i, my name is Allison, and I’m a peak bagger. Or at least I was, until I moved to Telluride two summers ago. Prior to a 2013 attempt to reach the summit of El Diente, one of the three Fourteeners in the Wilson group, I hiked according to one principle only: if the mountain has a summit, I will reach it. Otherwise, what’s the point, right? It was this mentality that led me to the more difficult north slope of El Diente in August of 2013, boyfriend in tow. I had seen pictures of the peak from a friend’s climb, and it looked like nothing I’d ever seen before. It looked flat-out scary and I needed to get to the top of it. We camped at Navajo Lake the night before our attempt, and set out in the morning with a bit of anxiety, but mostly high spirits. As we scoured the gauntlet of steep, rockfilled couloirs leading to the ridge, struggling to locate a trail, our conversation went something like this: Me: “That can’t be it.”

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My boyfriend: “Why didn’t we bring helmets?” After a climb up the open apron, we entered a steep couloir and the rock became infinitely looser. We became hyperaware of the sound of constant rockslides in the neighboring chute, thinking they were being triggered by hikers. When we reached a good vantage point, we were horrified to see that there was nobody else there; that the mountain was simply molting, sending boulders to the bottom every few minutes without a trigger of any kind. Hiking here in the San Juans is the real deal. It’s one thing to shrug off warnings about loose and rotten rock, but when you are able to hear and feel the rocks shifting, sloughing, and crashing hundreds of feet beneath you, it’s harder to ignore the panic rising in your throat and accept the necessity of resting your entire body weight on any one rock. To fall is to take a trip to the land of broken femurs and severed spinal cords, but to stop moving seems no less dangerous. Feeling this sensation for four hours straight without more than a thirty-second break is

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more or less what hiking the north slope of El Diente is like. Suffice it to say, my boyfriend called it after three or four hours and when we finally got back to camp, with five miles left to hike out, it had taken us 7 hours to hike 2.5 miles. I went through my usual process of over-analysis, ruminating aloud on why we failed and how we could get up that route on our next attempt. That is, until my boyfriend shut me down: “I’m glad we turned around. And I have no desire to do that again. Ever. Who cares that we turned back?” Who cares?!?! I wanted to scream! My anger simmered as we hiked slowly back to the car, but as we walked I began to soften. When I stopped to take a photo of late afternoon sunlight tickling a cluster of flowers it hit me: He’s right. Who cares? I realized I had been far too gripped to even stop and look around on El Diente earlier that day, let alone take a photo. And now I was having a lot more fun with an enormous pack on my back, following an easy, mellow trail, snapping pictures of flowers as we meandered back to the car, sipping on

the “victory PBRs,” which had been intended for the top of El Diente. I realized a simple thing: that not every hike has to end on top of a peak. Or a ridge. Or, well, anything. The mountains dictate what you will or will not accomplish on any given day, and to pretend otherwise is arrogant. To enslave yourself to goals in the mountains, whereby reaching a summit becomes the sole point of the journey, is to blind yourself not only to the purpose of being in the mountains in the first place, but also to many of the consequences and rewards. I vowed that day never again to make a peak anything more than one of many possibilities, and to always make sure I am still enjoying myself and my surroundings, even when it gets hairball. I swore never to chastise myself for turning around, and never to consider a hike without a certain difficulty rating a waste of time. Later that summer I not only made it to the top of El Diente (via the gentler south slope), but was able to traverse the ridgeline to Mount Wilson and sit atop her summit as well, one of the hardest physical and mental challenges I have ever experienced. I attribute this to my new mountain mindset, prompted by “failure,” and embodied by our trip leader’s comment as we set out at 3:30 am: “We’ll see how far we get. It doesn’t really matter, it’s going to be awesome…and we’ll get to see the sun come up.” \


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36 • FEATURE

Ovine Adventures

Brenda Colwell

Basque Sheep Herding in the San Juan Mountains

I

f you spend enough time in the high country in the San Juan Mountains, eventually you will come across a roaming flock of thousands of bleating sheep. It’s a little disconcerting at first. You’re hundreds of miles from any ranch, and these are domesticated animals, not elk or bighorn sheep or any of the wild creatures that inhabit the mountains. But somewhere among the flock, you will see a couple of guardian dogs and a shepherd. And with that ruggedly dressed, darkwww.TellurideMagazine.com

skinned shepherd comes a very intriguing and historic tale. Basque shepherds first migrated to the West more than a century ago, during the Gold Rush in California. Some came from the Basque regions of Europe, some indirectly from the pampas of South America. The United States offered opportunity to these nomadic entrepreneurs: vast tracts of open land that were free for grazing, and a market for wool and mutton. To tend cattle, you needed fences and deeded land. But sheep

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stay together in a flock as they roam. Raising sheep was more physically demanding—walking hundreds of miles and camping all summer— but required less capital. The earliest shepherds came and started with a few ewes, slowly building up herds and their fortune, and were soon joined by family and friends from the old country. The Basque sheepherding tradition here in Telluride started with Joaquin Aldasoro. Aldasoro came to the United States from the Basque

region of Spain in 1913, at the age of 22. He knew one man in this country—another Basque—who hired him to run sheep. Joaquin worked in Price, Utah, saving his money and buying a few sheep each season. He spent long summers walking the sheep solo across the San Juan Mountains, with only the comfort of his makeshift sheep camp and a few canine companions. Telluride was a comfort, too—it looked familiar, like his home country. When industrialization came to the surrounding


Generation to Generation

T

wo of the Aldasoro siblings (Joaquin and Josefa) and another man married the Aguirre siblings (Christina, Prudencio, and Martina) in a triple wedding in 1927. Joaquin and Christina (Aguirre) Aldasoro had two children, Mary Louise and Albert, and Albert had—no surprise, for a sheep ranching family that only kept ewes—three daughters, the Aldasoro sisters: Angie, Pam, and Cris. The girls grew up with these same practices, the seasonal cycle of shearing, breeding, lambing, and pasturing. Their mother cooked huge meals for the workers, and one of the girls’ many responsibilities was caring for and bottle-feeding the “bum” lambs, the ones rejected by their mothers or whose mothers died giving birth. Sometimes a ewe who had lost its own lamb could be tricked into nursing a bum lamb by “caping” or “jacketing” the hide of the lost lamb onto the bum lamb, making the orphan smell like the ewe’s own. The

Aldasoro sisters were the next generation of a venerable tradition. They remember fondly the wool growers banquet on the last Saturday of every January, the traveling band of shearers and the huge, coffin-sized bags they collected the fleece in, spending every summer at the old ranch house, and the Basque shepherds who came to this country to make the months-long ritual passage with the sheep across the high country in the San Juans. “My whole experience growing up, me and my sisters…we were ranchers,” says Pam (Aldasoro) Bennett. “We lived a very traditional Basque ranching lifestyle.” At some point, the sheep ranching industry evolved. Imported wool ravaged the market. Land became more valuable, and the sheep business became less so. The Aldasoro family was forced to sell off and develop all but 750 acres of the ranchland, which became some of the most beautiful and coveted property and neighborhoods in the region. But they did so with a caveat: that the sheep would continue to graze those lands, and that their annual journey across Deep Creek mesa and the San Juans would carry on unimpeded. And so it has. The family allows grazing access to another Basque sheep ranching family with whom they share a long history, the Etcharts, maintaining the natural, century-old customs of raising sheep. “Our dad didn’t want to develop the ranch,” says Pam. “He liked the ranching lifestyle, however, the debt grew too large and couldn’t be paid with the lamb and wool crop. That was when he decided to become a developer. Being a developer allowed him to save at least a portion of the ranch. We have just this season turned over the grazing to one of our kindred Basque sheep ranching families, the Etcharts. We are Basquos working together. ” »»

Braden Gunem

Brenda Colwell

mines, and the ranchland became more affordable and grazing restrictions came to some of the territory, he bought the ranches above Telluride one by one, neighbor by neighbor. Soon the Aldasoro brothers—Joaquin, his cousin Serapio Tellaria, and his brother Bernardo—had amassed 5,000 acres of land and thousands and thousands of sheep. They also had wintering land in Montrose for shearing and lambing. Every Christmas, they bred their ewes (Columbia ewes that they mated with Suffolk bucks from another ranch) and every spring docked the males and sent the ewes and lambs on their grazing adventures across the high country, each herd accompanied by a lone Basque shepherd to stand sentinel over the flock.

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Brenda Colwell

38 • FEATURE

I

The Passage

t’s a beautiful, sunny spring day and thousands of sheep are hurtling over each other, leaping and skipping as they bound down the ramp from the cattle truck to start their summer grazing odyssey across the San Juan Mountains. Ernie Etchart and his wife squat next to the ramp, counting heads as the animals disembark, smiling and nodding at one another as their final numbers match. The ovine flocks, ewes and lambs, start their orgiastic feeding, overjoyed at the fresh, green grasses underfoot and their sudden freedom. Silently, a shepherd walks up the hill and squats down, scanning the herd vigilantly. Each band or herd is about 1,000 ewes and 1,500 lambs, says Etchart. Over their long journey through the Aldasoro land and permit areas in the San Juans, they will lose about five percent of the animals to predators or illness—and that’s with the dogs, who are the sheep’s keen guardians. Without them, it would be much worse, he says. But the most important key to success is having good shepherds. They develop a relationship with the sheep, a style of handling the ani-

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Braden Gunem

mals, and a good shepherd makes a difference in their weight when they return at summer’s end. “It’s a tough job. It takes a lot of stamina and patience,” he says. Although no matter how good their weight is, or how well the herd fares, the industry is still vulnerable to the variables in the wool or mutton market. Etchart says he stayed in the sheep business not because it’s profitable, but because it’s in his blood. “I did a lot of other things (before he took over the business from his Basque father). But I like the outdoors, the lifestyle, the high country…we’re damn sure not in it for the money.” When Joaquin Aldasoro made his summer treks decades ago, it

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was an epic expedition, from the low country through the mountains and out to Utah on foot, camping in tents, spending all of those months in solitude. But it’s still a solitary lifestyle for these shepherds. Their camps are still desolate, although now they spend part of the summer in aluminum campers that might have solar panels and small kitchenettes, maybe even a radio or a cell phone. Etchart meets up with them periodically to re-supply them with food and other necessities and to haul their camp to the next meeting spot, but the shepherds still walk hundreds of miles each summer. It’s hard not to romanticize the job of being a shepherd in the

mountains, drifting slowly and developing an intimacy with the land that few of us will ever experience. Star-filled nights, long contemplative days of hiking through the wilderness with nothing but your own thoughts. One of the shepherds, Rogelio, looks uncomfortable as Etchart gestures for him to come over. He rises slowly and approaches warily. This is the first day of his summer sojourn, and he is about to escape from the din of urban life and take respite. He is ready to follow the same nomadic path tread before by so many Basque shepherds, a solo trek imbued with heritage and tradition. I ask him if he gets lonely, and he shrugs his shoulders. He tells me he is accustomed to the agricultural lifestyle, and he prefers it. Nowadays, there are more people recreating in the mountains, so he has the occasional conversation with a tourist. At night he cooks and listens to music. His face is creased from the weather and a life spent outdoors, but those lines disappear as he breaks into a smile thinking about the journey ahead. “Lonely? No. For me, it’s fun to be on the beautiful land with the animals.” \


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40 • FEATURE

THE CYCLING

SCENE IN

TELLURIDE RIDING LIKE A LOCAL

Jim Hurst/Mountains to Desert

IS AN UPHILL BATTLE

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By Jesse James McTigue

M

Jim Hurst/Mountains to Desert

the shadow of the valley’s peaks. Even during the busiest of Telluride festivals, if you get off the beaten path and are willing to climb, you’ll have the trails to yourself. And, once you get your cadence and clear a Boomerang, Mill Creek, or Eider (entering an elite club), you’ll be glad that you adhered to rule #5.

spent cruising on the singletrack of Boggy Draw above Dolores or lapping the rollercoaster dips and turns of Phil’s World in Cortez. You can’t ride at 19 Road in Fruita during the off-season without running into hordes of Telluriders. New trails built in nearby Norwood also have local cyclists excited to explore terrain close to home. But despite the early season mellow or “tranquilo” mentality, when mid-summer comes along and the snow melts in the high country, Telluriders love their local trails. And those trails are steep. They love that they can leave from town and within minutes be climbing among the quiet of the aspens in

HERE’S A QUICK GUIDE TO RIDING LIKE A LOCAL: Where to go: Where you go riding depends on what kind of riding you do. But there are routes for road biking, mountain biking, and cross biking. —Road biking in Telluride is straightforward. At the roundabout, go up or down. There are not a lot of diversions. Actually, there is one. Before the roundabout at the end of town, you can head north into the Aldasoro neighborhood toward the airport. If you have a cross bike, the dirt roads winding up and across the surrounding mesas create more opportunities. For as limited as the options sound, local riders spend a lot of time discussing and inventing various routes. If you meet riders on the road, match their cadence and introduce yourself. As long as you match pace and put a few intervals in at the front, the locals are friendly. They’ll ask your name, then Google you after. —Avid mountain bikers have more choices but the goods can be hard to find. You’ll figure out Prospect to Alta to T-35 up the Galloping Goose back to the Valley Floor pretty easily. That’s the classic Sunday morning ride. Other straightforward trails include Mill Creek, Jurassic, and the Ridge Trail. There are more loops with nobody on them, however they’re not always apparent or obvious on the trail maps and access can be blurry. »»

Jim Hurst/Mountains to Desert

ost avid cyclists are familiar with The Rules of Cycling published by Velominati: Keepers of the Cog. There are 95 of them, a mixture of humor and seriousness, and mostly they deal with biking form, biking etiquette, and bikes. But only one applies to riding in Telluride: #5. And what is number five? “Harden the f@#$ up.” Here, no one cares about your kit, tires, saddle, or bars. They don’t care if you’re wearing the right bike shorts. They care about one thing: Do you want to ride? And, more importantly, can you climb? The answer to the second question isn’t a deal breaker, just important information for estimating how long you’ll be out. Because to ride in Telluride, you’re going to have to climb, and it’s better if you love it—or at least pretend to. Sure, you can find a few flat rides or do gondola laps (breaking the ethos alluded to in rule #55 about earning your downhill turns) but eventually you’re going to want more. You’re going to hear about the epic Eider loop, the formidable Colorado Trail, the local favorite Prospect to Alta (ending at Telluride Brewery) and the technical T-35. You’re going to want to ride them all, so you’re going to have to climb. Road riding here carries the same fate. Popular rides include heading south to Lizard Head then further to Rico or cruising down valley then turning left toward Norwood or right up Dallas Divide. Regardless, to do these rides you’ll have to ascend Lawson Hill, or even worse, Keystone. Bottom line: you’re going to climb. However, contrary to popular belief and despite the obvious terrain, not all Telluriders are masochists. Spring weekends are

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Ask the gurus: In other words, meet Max, Trav, Narcis, or John. To get the local routes, tune-ups, guides, and information about organized rides, find these four gurus. —Max at BootDoctors and Paragon Outdoor: Max Cooper is the “bike whisperer” at the BootDoctors and is eager to ride anything on two wheels, with anybody, in any conditions. Max leads free, guided tours from the BootDoctors on Telluride’s main street all summer and is the co-founder of Telluride Mountain Bike Camp and president of San Miguel Bike Alliance. His talent on a bike and passion to spread the good word of riding is unparalleled. —Trav at Box Canyon Bicycles: If you know anything about cycling, when you walk into Box Canyon Bicycles, there is one thing you will notice straight away—the clientele. Not because you’ll meet them, but because of the bikes waiting to be serviced: Trek Madones, Cervélos, Ibis Ripleys, single speeds, and custom 1 X 11s. Travis Young is the man the local riders, with bikes more expensive than their cars, go to. He is a cool cat, super mellow, and a mechanic that consistently and loyally delivers to his patrons. —Narcis at Telluride Cycling Club and FUEL: Narcis and Becca Tudor own Telluride FUEL, a progressive and empowering health and fitness center at the base of Lift Seven. In addition to their business, the two persistently work to inspire people to live a healthy lifestyle and to build community around recreation and sport. Before Narcis

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SUMMER/FALL 2015

Brett Schreckengost

Brett Schreckengost

Even during the busiest of Telluride festivals, if you get off the beaten path and are willing to climb, you’ll have the trails to yourself.

came along, the road-riding scene was fairly underground. Telluride folks tend to be lone wolves when left to their own devices. Narcis started the Telluride Cycling Club complete with a blog, organized rides, and kits. —John at Lizard Head Cycling Guides: John Humphries owns and operates Lizard Head Cycling Guides out of Ophir, Colorado. The company offers guided multi-day mountain and road bike trips that loop the scenic mountains and plateaus of Colorado and even venture into the far reaches of the sandstone desert of Utah and Gila Wilderness of New Mexico. If you ride with Humphries, you still have to pedal, but he’ll do the rest. Think SAG vehicles, gourmet lunches, and quaint accommodations.

Local Cycling Events: Although Telluride’s organized cycling scene is still developing, there are a couple of cycling events worth checking out. —Mountains To Desert and Telluride200: The Mountains to Desert and Telluride200 take place the weekend following the Blues and Brews Festival, this year on September 26. It is a registered ride and race that takes participants from the high mountains of Telluride and into the maze of sandstone cliffs along the Dolores River to Gateway, Colorado. There are various distances to choose from, including a 200-mile option. The event is a fundraiser for the local non-profit Just For Kids and ends with a party and BBQ in Gateway. —The Telluride 100: This summer, July 25 will mark the second year for this 100-mile mountain bike race. Registration is limited to 75 riders (although the organizers are working hard with the Forest Service to extend the participant pool) and the ride attracts professional as well as amateur mountain bikers. Event organizers have dubbed it the most beautiful race on earth, and created a 97.3-mile course that takes riders over Black Bear and Ophir Passes and gains 19,200 feet of vertical feet. Seriously. The two regular biking events are a 200-mile road ride and a 100-mile mountain biking race with 19,200 feet of elevation gain. The bar is set pretty high in Telluride as far as riding. So if you want to “ride like a local,” you’d better start pedaling in earnest. Rule #5, anyone? \


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44 • FEATURE

QUENTIN TARANTINO DOES TELLURIDE

Q

uentin Tarantino is certainly not the first famous director/screenwriter to come to Telluride, but he is the first one to shoot a feature-length film here. Tarantino and his cast and crew descended on the San Miguel Valley this winter to film The Hateful Eight, which is due to be released this year. By all accounts, it was a bumpy ride. Of course, that was expected, as they were filming on the dirt roads of Wilson Mesa in a stagecoach—but that wasn’t what created problems. Tarantino nearly called off the project after his screenplay was leaked, but he reportedly altered the ending and decided to move forward. Then, once the cast and crew were assembled here in February, something else happened: unseasonably warm temperatures and a dry spell lasting weeks. Which is great if you like spring skiing conditions in February, but not so great if you’re shooting a movie that is set in a blizwww.TellurideMagazine.com

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zard. If you’re in Hollywood and you want it to snow, you just need to spend enough money and find the right equipment, and boom, you’ve got “snow.” But when you’re in Telluride, the protocol is to hold a ski burn: a sacrificial pyre to Ullr, the patron saint of skiing. So that’s what the production team did—they lit it up at Elks Park on Valentine’s Day, manifesting a meteorological miracle. “We got our snow,” says Hateful Eight producer Shannon McIntosh. “It wasn’t really inconvenient, because we were shooting inside and outside, but it was dry for a while. That’s why we did the burn.”

The Reel Deal

Perhaps the reason it was so crucial to have real snow was because this film is being shot in Ultra Panavision, a large 70 mm format (65mm video, 5mm of audio tracks) that has not been used since the 1960s. The movie industry has all

but abandoned celluloid film for less expensive digital production, but the advance in technology has lost some of the cinematic quality. It’s just not the same experience. So when you see The Hateful Eight on the big screen, prepare to be wowed by the artistry of it. “Westerns used to be shot in 65mm. It’s a way to really capture the landscape,” says McIntosh. “The details are incredible on this. The whole time we were there, we’d fire film rolls out to LA. daily, to watch it and check it and make sure it’s fine. It’s truly breathtaking. The Telluride mountains have never looked so good.” The Hateful Eight is a Western set in the post-Civil War era (hence the six-horse stagecoach and odd, vintage cowboy attire spotted around town) and it hearkens back to the character-driven classics like The Seven Samurai and The Magnificent Seven. So how do the close-up shots of actors for which Tarantino is renowned

Photos 1, 2, 3, 4 & 6 in strip by Ingrid Lundahl

THE HATEFUL EIGHT FILMED ON WILSON MESA


By Jesse James McTigue Photos by Brett Schreckengost

fare in the large-format film? “It’s magnificent when you get super close up to the faces,” says McIntosh giddily. “The lines and the details…it is just magnificent.”

setting the scene

The screenplay was actually set in Wyoming, but McIntosh said their location scout was filming a Marlboro commercial here, and that’s how they discovered Telluride. She says people will recognize Wilson Mesa, the aspen

groves, and the winding roads when they see the film. But when they weren’t filming, McIntosh says they were doing what most people do in Telluride: skiing and snowboarding on the weekends, going to O’Bannon’s, the Buck, and Brown Dog, and attending the occasional ski burn. “The town was really welcoming, and Quentin and the cast really loved the town. Getting to set every morning was a gorgeous drive. It’s one of the most beautiful, most picturesque places I’ve ever been.” \

The Hateful Eight Cast includes Samuel Jackson, Kurt Russell, Channing Tatum, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern, Demián Bichir, James Parks, and Zöe Bell. (And likely a cameo by writer/director Quentin Tarantino.) The scenes are set in two main places: Minnie’s haberdashery and the stagecoach. The last time Ultra Panavision was used was in Khartoum (1966) but it was also used in Ben-Hur (1959), How the West Was Won (1962), It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963), and The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965). Ultra Panavision uses a special anamorphic compression process that yields an aspect ratio of 2.76:1.

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45


46 • HISTORY

The Cosmopolitan magazine published Tom Breckenridge’s remarkable story in its August 1896 edition. World renowned artist Frederic Remington provided the illustrations. This one is titled, simply, “Killing Mules.”

By Paul O’Rourke

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illiam C. Ferril had taken a few weeks leave from his job at The Rocky Mountain News, deciding a summer trip to southwestern Colorado might give him some perspective on what he’d only read about: that those far off places like Telluride and Ouray and Rico, with the recent arrival of rail transportation, were all but bursting at their respective civic seams. During a brief visit to Telluride that summer in 1891 he heard mention of Thomas E. Breckenridge and how Old Tom—as the locals referred to him—had been a member of Colonel John C. Fremont’s 1848 expedition and that he was, to Ferril’s surprise, alive and well and residing in nearby San Miguel. Will Ferril was a student of history and was well acquainted with Fremont, the “Great Pathfinder,” and his heroic but sometimes notorious place in American history. Fremont had died the previous July, in 1890, and Ferril had reviewed the accounts of his life with some interest. But up until this trip to Telluride, Ferril had been led to believe all of the twenty or so survivors of Fremont’s disastrous 1848 expedition, including the four members of the infamous “relief party,” had all since died. But Old Tom Breckenridge was now, apparently, the “sole survivor.” Ferril, a journalist, was hoping Mr. Breckenridge might agree to an interview and provide a new perspective on what actually happened during that miserable winter in 1848, when www.TellurideMagazine.com

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Thomas E. Breckenridge, seen in this 1896 photograph, was the man for whom Breckenridge (now Boreas) Pass and, as many in Telluride and Rico claimed during the 1890s, the town of Breckenridge was named.

eleven men either froze or starved to death in the Colorado high country during a government survey to confirm the feasibility of a rail route following along the 38th parallel from Missouri, through Colorado, and on to California. Fremont’s 1848 expedition would have been described as ill-fated were it not for the fact its leader had ignored experienced mountain men at Pueblo, who warned of an unusually severe winter ahead, and proceeded—it was December by the time they headed up the Rio Grande valley—into

the mountains, where the snow was already ten feet deep and the temperatures dangerously below zero. By mid-December Fremont and his brigade found themselves at 12,327 feet above sea level, in a blinding blizzard. Pack mules fell, one after the other, frozen to death. Arrogance, not providence, was responsible for the party’s perilous predicament. Not until the day after Christmas did Fremont deem it prudent to dispatch a small relief team to Taos—180 miles away—for help and supplies, and he ordered Henry King to lead the party comprised of a botanist, Frederick Kreutzfeldt, Old Bill Williams, veteran trapper and guide, and Thomas Breckenridge, the four “stoutest” members of Fremont’s beleaguered expedition. Will Ferril had read of the horrific conditions experienced by Fremont’s men, but there’d been little if anything written about what had happened to the relief party, other than accounts of their own suffering and the suspicions—reported by Fremont himself—that when King died fifteen days after leaving the encampment the other three men, on the brink of starvation, feasted on their dead comrade in order to save themselves. Imagine what must have been running through his mind when Will Ferril walked into the Breckenridge home, “a cozy little frame cottage,” according to Ferril, near San Miguel, on a pleasant August day in 1891. Thomas Breckenridge, born in St. Louis on


BILL OF FARE. CAMP DESOLATION. December 25, 1848

—M E N U — MULE.

SOUP.

Mule Tail.

FISH.

Baked White Mule. Baked Gray Mule.

MEATS.

Mule Steak. Fried Mule. Mule Chops. Broiled Mule. Stewed Mule. Boiled Mule. Scrambled Mule. Shirred Mule. French-Fried Mule. Minced Mule.

DAMNED MULE.

Mule on Toast (without the Toast). Short Ribs of Mule with Apple Sauce (without the Apple Sauce).

RELISHIES.

Black Mule. Brown Mule. Yellow Mule. Bay Mule. Roan Mule. Tallow Candles

BEVERAGES.

Snow. Snow-Water. Water.

Nearly fifty years removed from his near-death experience in the Colorado high country, Old Tom Breckenridge displayed a remarkable sense of humor when recalling his Christmas day meal in the 1896 Cosmopolitan Magazine piece, “The Story of a Famous Expedition.”

March 25, was 66 years of age when Will Ferril made his visit. Old Tom’s movements were labored and stiff, befitting a man who’d reportedly been “well traveled,” but his eyes shone with intelligence, and he seemed ready, if not eager, to tell Ferril his story. Tom waved away perfunctory introductions, providing instead a brief recitation of how he, with his four sons—James, Tom, Walter, and Dee (a fifth son, Reese would join them in 1881)—had arrived on the south fork of the San Miguel River in the spring of 1878 and how they’d worked placer claims along Wilson Creek and then located the Royal and Keno lode claims up in Bridal Veil Basin, all in that first summer. And how the boys—he didn’t include himself—had established themselves in business, as freighters, supplying the mines and miners in the region, working out of Howard’s Fork, Ophir, and Rico during the early 1880s. It’d been about a decade, Breckenridge mused, since he’d first called San Miguel home. Tom never mentioned his eldest son, James, had died in October 1881, at the age of 29. Old Tom shuffled a stack of papers on the table in front of him, attempting, Ferril guessed, to organize his thoughts. “I was with Fremont for the first time back in the summer of '45,” Tom said, “and just after crossing over the Front Range in Colorado, my mule broke loose o’ me.” Tom went on, “Ah course, that mule had on it a whole lot of what I owned so I went after him.” Breckenridge caught up with “Cooper” (the mule) at the campsite where they’d spent the previous night and where, Tom decided, they’d have to spend another. The next morning and with still no sign of Tom, »» SUMMER/FALL 2015

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47


48 • HISTORY Fremont sent legendary scout Kit Carson back to find him. When the three (including Cooper) eventually rejoined the party, Fremont informed them he’d already designated a spot on his survey map, the place Cooper had found so attractive, and had named it “Breckenridge (Boreas) Pass.” Fremont’s 1845 expedition was supposed to be scientific; its principal objective was to survey and map a route from Missouri to the Front Range of Colorado and then on to California, at that time a part of Mexico. No sooner had the expedition force arrived in California when Fremont, apparently acting upon orders, summarily discharged his men from the topographical corps and had them enlisted in the “California Battalion.” Tom Breckenridge found himself in the middle of a war. “It was up near Sonoma,” Tom said, “And we captured the Mexican outpost there.” Breckenridge handed Ferril what appeared to be a letter and pointed to a spot on the page, “It’s from my old friend, Gene Russell, from California.” The newspaperman read, “I think you were with us when Captain Merritt ordered me to draw out the image of a grizzly bear, which I did and painted it with poke berries, and you were there with us at the raising of the Bear flag.” Ferril understood: Tom Breckenridge had not only fought in the Mexican War, he’d been witness to one of the more iconic episodes in California—and American—history. If military duty in California wasn’t perilous enough, Breckenridge’s accounts of his return to Missouri sounded even more death defying. Fremont had become California’s military governor in 1847, and he ordered Breckenridge to deliver war-related news to U.S. Senator Thomas Benton (Fremont’s father-in-law) in St. Louis, the route from Los Angeles taking him through what was then Arizona territory. Fired at and chased by less than friendly natives, Tom fell off his horse, broke his wrist—it never healed right—but was pleased to report, “I lived to tell the tale.” Ferril wrote in his notepad, “It’s a miracle he survived.” “Suppose you want to hear about '48, too?” Tom smiled. Ferril nodded, fidgeting in his chair, “About the relief party, yes.” “You know,” said Breckenridge, “before we left camp on our way to Taos, I gave Fremont a pouch full of gold doubloons, all the money I had in the world, to keep safe for me. And he told me he’d be sure to look after it, but when we met up later on, he said he’d had to leave it behind, but that he’d make sure it was made up to me.” Old Tom’s eyes narrowed, “Never got a thing, not a thing.” “We were four days reaching the Rio Grande River,” Tom resumed, almost in a rush to get the memory out of his head, “a distance of about ten miles. Every day we were becoming more exhausted and weaker and starvation was staring us in the face as we were without food and blankets, and it was near impossible to build a fire. But one day we found a dead otter and cooked it. I can taste that otter to this day.” Here, Old Tom paused. “We’d been out fifteen days when King died. Without food for eight days, he had starved and frozen to death. We were becoming delirious. Our fingernails were coming off. Our feet were frozen and the bones protruded through the www.TellurideMagazine.com

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John C. Fremont’s enduring popularity—he was one of two U.S. Senators elected from the new State of California in 1849—and his pro-abolitionist views gained for him the Presidential nomination from the newly formed Republican Party in 1856. His campaign poster is seen here.

Without heroes we’re all plain people and don’t know how far we can go. bare and frozen flesh of our heels.” “The day after King died, the ninth day since we’d had food, I saw a deer,” Tom’s eyes lit up. “I raised my rifle. I could hardly see, owing to the terrible condition of my snow blind and inflamed eyes. I pulled the trigger and the deer leaped into the air and fell dead, and we were saved.” “And the next day,” Tom almost laughed, “who did we see? None other than Fremont and three others, riding on ponies. As he was in great hurry to get to a settlement (Taos) and send relief back up the river to his men, he remained just long enough to cook some venison and then pushed on, ordering us to follow as fast as we could.” “It required,” Tom shook his head, thinking how Fremont had left him and Williams and Kreutzfeldt behind, “ten days to reach the settlement—ten days of the most excruciating pain. Looking back, after so many years, I cannot understand how we lived through it.” Ferril couldn’t help but ask, “What enabled you to keep up your courage?” Old Tom took a deep breath, relieved perhaps, that most of his story had been told, and said, “There was a young girl back in St. Louis I wanted to see. I fell in love with her after my first trip with Fremont in 1845. The thought of seeing her once more and making her my wife saved my life.” Tom Breckenridge turned and patted his wife on her knee, “And here she now sits by my side.”

POSTSCRIPT

Will Ferril was either too polite or too ashamed to ask Tom Breckenridge, to his face, about Fremont’s assertions that he, Williams, and Kreutzfeldt had “fed on their dead companion” Henry King in 1848. After returning to Denver, Ferril wrote Breckenridge, quoted the allegations and invited

him to respond. Old Tom wrote back, “if the body of King was in any way mutilated and devoured it must have been by wolves…and I further state that no human flesh was eaten by any of our party.” And that, apparently, was good enough for Will Ferril. His interview with Old Tom Breckenridge was published in the Rocky Mountain News on August 30, 1891, Tom’s courage, character, and place in American history secured by its telling. By 1893, Tom’s boys, Walter, Dee, and Reese, had moved their stock of mules up to Deep Creek Mesa, from where they ran their freighting business for over three decades. Their father was, perhaps understandably, a reluctant partner in his sons’ enterprise. It’s safe to say that after the winter of 1848, Old Tom Breckenridge had had more than enough dealings with mules. Charles Watson, of Telluride, was Breckenridge’s good friend and familiar with Tom’s heroic, yet sad story. Watson was only partially successful in helping Breckenridge petition the U.S. Congress for an increase in his pension for services rendered during the Mexican War and for his years spent with John Fremont. In Watson’s mind, the country owed Tom a debt that it had never adequately recognized, so in August 1896, Watson helped Tom re-spin his heroic tale of survival and courage in “The Story of a Famous Expedition,” published in The Cosmopolitan magazine and illustrated by world renowned artist, Frederic Remington. Not long after the publication of his story in Cosmopolitan, Old Tom felt compelled to take one last excursion across the plains to visit his daughter in Missouri. We trust Tom went by rail this time, he being at least partially responsible for where those tracks had been laid, after all. Old Tom never made it back home, to Colorado and Telluride; he passed away on April 23, 1897. \


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49


50 • ESSAY

Poker at Altitude

CARDS, COMPETITION, AND CONQUEST IN A MOUNTAIN TOWN By Rob Story

E

stablishing a mountain-town poker tradition is tough. I lived in Telluride almost four years before finally managing to cajole guys into a regular game. Mountain folks are too damn transient, seized-up by lactic acid, or stoned to commit. Dudes will say they’re up for a game, then blow it off for lame reasons. Sorry, notching a first descent down the north face of Mt. Testosterone next week. Or: No can do—it’s my honeymoon. Whatever, Sally. Like I say, it took years of scouting to find the right mix—guys with enough discipline to sit on their ass for hours at a time drinking and gambling. Once we got our crew together, though, we’ve hardly missed a Tuesday night. Players come and go, but three original members never waver. We call ourselves the Council of the Elders. We’ve recruited heavily over the years, and now count on several regulars: a freelance writer with a damn nice French Country table for cards;

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a real estate agent who never met a spreadsheet he didn’t like; another realtor who calls himself the “Cow Whisperer” for the cattle he helps raise down valley; yet another realtor, whose skinny frame and oversized mop of reddish hair evoke a Looney Tunes character; an adventure photographer who lives in a century-old cabin in Ophir; a ponytailed town planner who wears a hoody and baseball cap every day of his life; a single father and snowmobile guide who holds our record for one-night winnings, $442; a budding filmmaker/carpenter whose Louisville accent emerges more with each can of Pabst; and a bartender who’s originally from California and always grumbles about Colorado’s comparative failures. What’s beautiful about ski-town poker is the competition. Here in our boutique resorts, we almost never keep score. Our preferred sports—skiing, mountain biking, rock climbing, kayaking—entail communions with nature where

SUMMER/FALL 2015

wins and losses aren’t tallied. Golf? Too expensive. Tennis? Too short a season. With poker, we finally get clarity. Finite numbers. The thrill of stomping on an opponent’s throat.

One of our most memorable games happened in Ophir, eight miles south of Telluride. Rumor has it that Ophir, which sits above 9,000 feet in a shivering valley lacking pavement or any business save the post office, was once owned by John Wayne…before he lost it in a poker game when he was out here shooting True Grit. Five of us carpooled in from Telluride. The road was snowpacked as we drove through the ghostly, half-mile avalanche zone that separates Ophir from Highway 145. Greeted by the insolent barks of free-roaming dogs, we left the car and tramped through crusty snow to an ancient cabin. We stashed six-packs of beer in the fridge and retreated back up the slanting floors to a felt table in the living room. “Grab some elk chili if you want,” the host offered, pointing to the stove. “Shot it last Sunday in Swamp Canyon.” This is not your dad’s or John Wayne’s poker game. Along with


} “Here in our boutique resorts, we almost never keep score. Our preferred sports—skiing, mountain biking, rock climbing, kayaking—entail communions with nature where wins and losses aren’t tallied. With poker, we finally get clarity. Finite numbers. The thrill of stomping on an opponent’s throat.”

{

locally hunted meat, high-altitude poker comes with different sights and smells. Look around and see raccoon tans and negligible body fat. Several baseball caps and zero gold chains. Instead of Brut and Dewars, our games reek of Fat Tire ale and green bud. Still, I think Doyle Brunson and Jonnie Chan would feel perfectly comfortable with us once the dealing began, when small talk ceases and everyone’s focus boils down to poker’s two constants: cards and competition. Five of our regulars played high school football, and we approach the game with a trench warfare mentality. I tended to butt heads with the late Jack Carey. Jack was a Telluride icon, known for his trademark beard: a gray, ZZ Top number that dangled a foot below his chin. He was a diehard skier and a beloved director of freeskiing competitions; imagery of Jack and his chin-puppet appeared all over the mountain universe. SKI Magazine once featured him on the cover. Everyone in town called him “Captain.” I never enjoyed my squabbles with Jack, as there’s nothing to be gained by tangling with a local demigod. But that’s how poker is. When competitive bastards face off, bristle happens. In the Ophir cabin, a realtor miscalled his hand after an Omaha game where the high and low hands split the pot. He wrongly said he won both, and without looking at his cards, I threw mine down in disgust (or “mucked” them, in poker parlance). Then everyone saw the realtor’s error. I picked up my cards and realized I owned the best low. The realtor and I split the pot, but Jack sniped that my initial muck should send the whole shebang the realtor’s way. I strongly disagreed. How dare Jack question one of the Council of the Elders? So, yeah, it felt good a couple hands later when we faced off in a guts game. Guts games usually involve playing for the pot. You can get out without a penalty, but if you declare you’re in and then lose, you must match the pot. Guts games are perversions of pure stud or Hold ‘Em poker, and usually feature wild cards. I won’t bother you with this one’s details. Just know that there’s a draw, and, thanks to wild cards, it takes a very good hand to win. Sometimes five of a kind. I decided first. My hand: four 3s, with a chance to get five. Though I’d need to match a $36 pot if I lost, I declared “In!” So did Jack.

Yeesh. Entering a game with $36 worth of consequence, I had to assume he held four of a kind. My lowly 3s seemed overmatched. I drew. No help. Jack drew. Turn ‘em over, boys. I jumped out of my chair and fist-pumped. Jack’s four 2s made him the loser. In your face, Gandalf! That night, outside temperatures dipped into the 20s. Everyone sported two or more layers of clothes. “Alan,” a smiley forty-something originally from Pennsylvania, wore a singularly ugly sweater, a Jackson Pollock spaghetti of thick fibers and mismatched electric colors. It begged for verbal abuse. Thing is, Alan’s the nicest guy in our game. Buys pizza for everyone. Never raises your pair of twos even if he’s holding a flush. Loses a lot, but never bitches. Alan catches very little trash talk. But this time, for once, he invited it. He started winning. Twice he barbecued me on Fifth Street, the fifth and final community card dealt in Texas Hold ‘Em. “What’s with the Cosby sweater?” I probed. “What do you mean? This?” Alan replied, grabbing a handful of material colored like dog vomit. “It was a Valentine’s gift.” “From your mom?” I sneered. While Alan doesn’t deserve the abuse, his profession does. He, like some of the other players, is a real-

tor. In Telluride, the most expensive ski town in Colorado, dirt pimps rake in obscene amounts of dough. Our non-realtors do not—and really resent it. We hold realtors accountable for the skyrocketing housing costs driving longtime locals down valley or, worse, to Utah. It’s just not right that one of the realtors (“Goofy”) drove to games in a $50,000 Lexus, while a carpenter arrives in a rusted ’85 Subaru. Alan and Goofy can afford to bluff. The socialist in me always wants to call them on it. Which is

why I saw Goofy’s opening bet in a hold ‘em game where my down cards were an iffy 9-10 of spades. The flop came Queen-NineFour, with none of my needed spades. Goofy bet the max, two bucks. I studied his face for tells. An Orlando native, he once worked at Disneyworld in a furry costume. (Hence the nickname Goofy.) Between Disney and real estate, he’s mastered a phony, doofus grin. It’s inscrutable. Still, I liked my pair of nines enough to see another card. I called. The turn revealed a third nine. I bet the max, now $4, and made a sound like a chainsaw crossed with a garbage disposal. “That’s it, Goofy, stick your hand in the woodchipper!” I pantomimed fingers getting mangled. It’s my signature taunt now. (My old one—“I intend to dominate”—sounded cool but never won.) Goofy called. Fifth Street gave the table an ace. Goofy, excited, threw in four black chips. I called. His impressive two pair, aces and queens, wasn’t enough. As John Wayne used to say, “Yee-hah.” I’d vanquished the realtor and pocketed enough scratch in that single game to buy three Telluride cheeseburgers: $30. What a rush. By midnight, when we called it quits, I’d posted one of my best nights ever, up $210. The rest of the crew recognized my joy. They’d seen it before, when bagging Wilson Peak on a perfect summer day or reeling in a fine trout. In mountain towns, we live for the highs. That’s why poker is thriving in Telluride. Because winning $210 from your friends on a Tuesday night is a high all its own. \

SUMMER/FALL 2015

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51


52 • TELLURIDE FACES

Running Guru

Jill Burchmore

By Martinique Davis

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SUMMER/FALL 2015

Photo by Brenda Colwell

W

hen Telluride local Jill Burchmore was in high school, she joined the Aspen High School track team. “I tried hard, but I was never good,” she admits, referencing instances like when she passed out at the finish line of a race. Running, she assumed, just wasn’t her thing. Decades later, Burchmore is Telluride’s running guru, a coach who has coaxed students to achieve goals that transcend merely crossing a finish line or getting off the couch. Her five-year-old business, 180 Wellness (a play on her own 180° turnaround, from an overweight and out-of-shape youth to a personal trainer and competitive runner in her adulthood), was conceived to help others overcome the physical and mental hurdles inherent in reaching a fitness goal. As a certified ChiRunning Instructor and Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) Running Coach, Burchmore takes a holistic, philosophical view of running, not just as a means of getting in better shape or finishing a race, but also as a conduit for healthy lifestyle change. She is also certified as a life coach and Passion Test Facilitator (based on the New York Times bestselling book The Passion Test), which gives her a unique perspective from which to base her fitness training techniques. “In teaching someone to run, I’m not just teaching mechanics— it’s also about how to embark upon the process of accomplishing a goal, which in turn boosts confidence and helps with the ability to transition in life,” she says. “Moving forward, being aligned—to run is very much a metaphor for life.” In addition to private lessons and individualized training pro-


Telluride

TRAPPINGS &

TOGGERY

grams, Burchmore’s business is best known for the 20-week training program she hosts each summer, which grooms even neophytes into capable runners. She teaches the Lydiard Method, an aerobic-based, sequential development system that she can adapt to students’ specific abilities and goals. The regimen is based on a pyramid framework, which begins with building an aerobic base and learning proper technique, then moving on to tackle hill climbing, interval training, and more. Many students in the 20-week class go on to test their newfound skills at the region’s quintessential race, the Imogene Pass Run, a grueling 17-mile slog that takes runners to a dizzying 13,114 feet as they ascend the mountain pass between the towns of Ouray and Telluride. Telluride local Melissa Ramponi was a beginner runner when she signed up on a whim to take Burchmore’s signature 20-week class in 2014, showing up for the first class wearing 20-year-old shoes and spandex from the Free Box. Just ten minutes into the 20-minute run, she wondered how she could get her money back.

{

“Moving forward, being aligned—to run is very much a metaphor for life.”

}

“I was struggling,” she admits, “but it lit a fire in me.” She made it to 19 of the 20 weekly classes that summer, and went on to complete the Imogene Pass Run and a half-marathon, and will be running in the New York City Marathon this November. “All you have to do is show up and follow the schedule, and you’ll get to the finish line,” Ramponi says of Burchmore’s running class. “Anyone can do it.” While there is indeed much more to Burchmore’s training method than merely running technique, even seasoned runners can realize major shifts in their ability thanks to her keen analysis of students’ cadence, stride length, pace, posture, alignment, breathing technique, and more. Fine-tuning these elements can lead to increased performance as well as enjoyment of the sport, she says, through focused attention on injury avoidance and maximizing potential. “All of these techniques are designed to prevent injury and lessen impact, which in turn makes running more enjoyable,” she says. And with running, making it pleasurable is key. Running may start out as a task, but for many people it becomes much more. “I started running because I knew it would help manage my weight after the birth of two children,” says Burchmore. “What really happened was that it provided me with strength, confidence, clarity, and more. It allows me time outdoors where I can explore, reflect, and feel my heart beat. It is the truest feeling of being alive.” Burchmore lives in Telluride with her husband John and her two teenage sons, Jake and Leland, where she also works as an accountant. Find more information about her workshops and local running clinics on her website, TellurideRun.com. \

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54 •• TELLURIDE TELLURIDE FACES FACES

The Outdoor Educator

D

uring the three years Laura Kudo was a fourth-grade teacher in Telluride, her most satisfying moments were the interactive lessons where she could allow her students to experience the outdoors—to walk in the dirt, wander through the trees, observe wildlife, and learn about nature by getting out in it. In fact, in her first year on the job, she says she took her students on one field trip per week for the first eight weeks of school. It was an ambitious schedule, but she loved it. www.TellurideMagazine.com

{

By Katie Klingsporn

“The hands-on outdoor classroom appealed to me the most.”

Kudo found a passion in sharing those experiences that had so vibrantly colored her own life. “I think that’s where the joy of putting one foot in front of the others in the outdoors any way I can came in,” she says. “The hands-on outdoor classroom appealed to me the most.” So Kudo took flight from the traditional classroom setting and

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}

built a new kind of educational experience that gets kids from the Telluride region out from behind their desks and into fresh air to learn about science, history, archeology, energy, hydrology, and more. Kudo leads the Watershed Education Program, which works with schools in the San Miguel River watershed—from Telluride public schools all the

way to the Paradox Valley Charter School—to facilitate full-day, overnight, or part-day field trips tied to watershed education. WEP coordinates field experts and puts together curricula that takes kids to places that range from archaeological sites in Paradox Valley to the coal-fired power plant in Nucla and the trail that traverses the Telluride Valley Floor to give them hands-on education about their home region. “What’s the point in sitting there in Naturita in fifth grade and studying petro-

Photo by Brenda Colwell

Laura Kudo


TELLURIDE

art performances. cars & sculptures— free to all. Don’t miss the 2nd annual Telluride Fire Festival Photo by Ryan Bonneau

glyphs from a book, when you can go on a field trip within an hour from your classroom and see them yourself? Or sitting in a fourth-grade classroom in Telluride and learning about boom and bust and mining history and not just going to the end of the valley and having Joe Smart from Idarado talk about the mining history?” she says. In this way, WEP allows kids to touch pottery sherds, strap on snowshoes for winter overnights, listen to birdsong on summer hikes, and see the inner workings of the historic Ames Power Plant. The hope, Kudo says, is that this tactile learning and exposure to nature will instill not just knowledge, but also give them a deeper understanding of the pocket of the world where they are from. “We hope that it gives them a sense of this place, a sense of how reliant we are in particular on water and that it’s basically a ribbon of life through all of the topography around,” she says. “And we try and incorporate with that the sense that we want to preserve this as well as we can.” Kudo’s passion for outdoor-based education comes from an authentic place—she’s an accomplished adventurer in her own right. But it wasn’t always like that. Her evolution both as teacher and outdoor athlete are tied inextricably to Telluride. Kudo grew up in Columbus, Ohio, in what she describes as a typical mid-western flatlander childhood. It wasn’t until she was on a road trip with a girlfriend years later that she stumbled upon the outdoor lifestyle. They drove to a hang-gliding event in Tennessee, and it was an eye-opening experience. The dirt-bag, nomadic types, the campfires and community and satisfaction of being under the sun and stars, she says, “Was just a whole new world that I had never seen before.” That experience led her to Telluride for a hang-gliding festival. “I ended up falling in love with it and staying.” To a longtime city dweller (she studied art history in London), the mountain hamlet was exotic, as were its trappings. Kudo remembers “practically killing” herself the first time she hiked the Wiebe. “I thought it was the hardest thing I’d ever done in my life.” In her first decade in town, Kudo worked as an interior designer, managed the Telluride Mountaineer, and spent a few summers with Telluride Academy. The Academy was where she realized that she did want to follow in her mother’s footsteps and become a teacher. After getting her teaching degree, she landed a job in Telluride. Eventually she earned her master’s degree in sustainability education at Prescott College in Arizona, and started working with WEP. The job allows her lots of outside time, but Kudo also gets outside plenty in her downtime. She and her husband, Tim Kudo, have ticked off a lengthy list of accomplishments since their first date at Indian Creek. The collectors of dog-eared guidebooks and creased maps have climbed, explored, and mountaineered all over Colorado, the Southwest, and the world. Kudo’s come a long way since that day she suffered up the Weibe. They started bagging peaks together years ago, and after climbing their first couple Fourteeners, they hatched an idea. “After just a couple of them, we thought, maybe we should try to do them all.” And they did. One by one, over the course of about eight years, they climbed the states 54 official (and six unofficial) Fourteeners, mostly by alternative or technical routes and with a few link-ups. The couple has also backpacked in the Grand Canyon, climbed the highest peak in Central America, summited volcanoes in South America, and trekked across Nepal. Kudo guesses they’ve climbed more than 300 peaks together. That kind of outdoor lifestyle dovetails well with her day job. “It gives me a certain amount of credibility with my work in the watershed,” she says. “We have such a wealth of places. If it looks cool, aesthetically it’s beautiful, and takes us to a place we haven’t been before, we just love to get out there.” \

January 14–18, 2016

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5/8/15 12:23:20 PM


56 • TELLURIDE FACES

The Bike Whisperer

Max Cooper

By Elizabeth Guest

www.TellurideMagazine.com

SUMMER/FALL 2015

Photo by Brenda Colwell

“W

hose idea was this anyway?” asks each fool pedaling in the pack of cyclists heading up the umpteenth climb of steep, rocky singletrack. The question resurfaces five hours later as the group traverses scree fields on wobbly bike shoes, shouldering their two-wheeled transports. Once finished, however, the mud-crusted bicycles get parked and the post-ride pints taste that much better. Now their only question is when the next backcountry bike ride will be. The answer lies in the one and only Max Cooper. His outings, also known as “Max Plans,” always involve a bike, a significant portion of the day or night—bring a light—and a group of initially willing individuals who ride (and schlep) bikes across rugged terrain in loops and circuits well beyond the beaten path. When not leading the charge, Cooper works as a bike mechanic at Bootdoctors, but that is only a single spoke in his sphere of influence. Since moving to Telluride in 2008, Cooper has spawned countless bike-related events from kids camps to group rides to snow bike relays, all in an effort to unite Telluride’s biking community and establish mountain bike trails. According to Cooper, Telluride’s biking community dreams of a ride around the box canyon, but various entities with property claims make it hard to implement a cohesive trail system. As a result, bandit trails follow miserably steep mining roads or eroded routes created with improper tools or planning. A born-again bike bandit, Cooper recognizes the need for legitimate bike trails. He’s attended trail-building classes, often rallying fellow bike enthusiasts to come along, in order to lead trail crews and work with the United States Forest Service (USFS). “We all want new trails, but we also need to maintain the ones that we have,” says Cooper. Mountain biking in Telluride has become a significant source of summer tourism, so while Cooper wants new trails for himself and fellow locals, he also sees the economic benefit of boosting the Telluride biking experience. “Despite the fact that there are plenty of expert riders around here, there’s a lack of beginner terrain, which is what we need most,” he says.


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“We all want new trails, but we also need to maintain the ones that we have.”

}

“The goal is to have a range of trails, starting with beginner.” Since Telluride is located in a narrow canyon with rocky cliffs and steep slopes, the solution is mountain-bike specific trails that are fun and playful as well as designed to avoid soil erosion and environmental impact. Mountain biking is better on windy, rolling terrain versus vertical, technical hike-a-bike trails. “It’s all about play and stacked loops,” says Cooper. “Stacked Loops may look weird on a map but that’s what bikers are drawn to.” Such trails are increasingly necessary for young bikers, like the riders age eight and older that Cooper leads in camps and after-school sessions through Telluride Academy and Telluride Mountain School programs. “It’s a challenge keeping the kids amused with a limited selection of suitable trails, so we really try to keep them busy with the bicycle itself,” says Cooper. In 2014, Cooper took over as President of the San Miguel Bicycle Alliance, a local non-profit working to enhance cycling opportunities in the Telluride Region. He spearheaded SMBA’s collaboration with the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA). As an IMBA chapter, SMBA gains more clout as a viable non-profit, as well as getting IMBA services such as traveling trail maintenance crews. As far as new trails, next on the docket is the Turkey Creek Trail, a USFS project that offers a series of stacked loops branching off the Prospect Trail on the Telluride Ski Resort. “Although it’s not necessarily a new trail, it will be really fun and that’s what we’re after,” says Cooper. Despite his seriousness about mountain biking, Cooper’s lost none of his playful, colorful character. His creative, outdoorsy personality stems from his upbringing in Vermont, where his father doubled as a woodworker and competitive cyclist and his mother ran a farm and created textile art. He studied painting at the Rhode Island School of Design, but raced bikes in his free time (often in crazy costumes on bikes with vibrant colors and custom paint jobs). In 2008, Cooper embarked on a cross-country bike trip from Seattle to New York City, with a stop at Burning Man— where he met his future wife, Hilary White. He moved to Telluride that winter, broke his leg, but was back in action by biking season. Now, if you want to find him at home, look for the address with a Dr. Seuss book of bicycles piled outside the door: One Bike, Two Bike, Red Bike, Blue Bike. Cooper collects road bikes, fat-tired snow bikes, mountain bikes, kids bikes, trailers for towing his three-year-old daughter Zoe, neon-painted bikes, zebra-print bikes, and burly touring machines armed with frame packs full of survival gear. For Cooper, bikes are a blank canvas—and so is Telluride, which he would like to paint with more mountain bike trails and establish as a biking destination. It’s not a quick fix, but Cooper has the enthusiasm to get the job done. “The biggest challenge for any above-ground entity is having the patience for seeing things through,” he says. “It’s hard to say how much patience it will take, but in the meantime we have short-term goals of trail maintenance and new sections of playful singletrack.” As well as many more outrageous bicycle adventures on rugged terrain, under dark skies, wherever a Max Plan may take you and your bike. \

Vacation like you mean it!

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57


58 • TELLURIDE FESTIVALS

Enjoying “THE RIDE” JANICE ZINK BRINGS WIDESPREAD PANIC BACK TO TELLURIDE

T

Kirsten Cohen

oday, Janice Zink is the festival producer for The RIDE. But it was this year’s headliner for The Ride, Widespread Panic, that provided one of the biggest challenges of her production career. In 2003, Zink brought Widespread Panic for a different event, the KOTO Doo Dah, for two shows. Town Park was packed for the band’s first show in Telluride in over a decade. Widespread Panic took the stage as ominous clouds moved in quickly, almost out of nowhere. Two songs into their set, the sky opened and rain exploded out of the sky. And not just rain—it was the deluge of the century. “Anybody who was there will tell you that they’ve never seen anything like it in Telluwww.TellurideMagazine.com

ride,” Zink said. “It rained three to four inches in a matter of minutes. It looked like you could wake board across the Oval in Town Park.” Widespread Panic left the outdoor stage after three songs. There was no choice but to cancel the show. Zink and the promoters were panicked. “We offered a refund and were petrified that thousands of people would come to us looking for their money back,” Zink recalls. “That would have been a disaster. But less than 20 people asked for a refund. That was a real tribute to the Panic fans. They stuck it out. They were excited to be in Telluride and were pumped for the next night. Panic played a five-hour set the next day and everybody was happy. They crushed it and they’re gonna crush it again at The RIDE.”

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Zink has been a fixture in the Telluride music scene since she moved here decades ago. When she first arrived in town, there was music in the air. As she walked down Colorado Avenue, she heard the same song playing in all the different stores. She inquired with one of the shopkeepers what the deal was. “It’s KOTO,” the merchant responded. “KOTO? What’s KOTO?” Zink replied. “It’s our community radio station. I’m a deejay,” the shopkeeper said. “Do you mean, if I moved here I could be a deejay?” Zink asked. The shopkeeper nodded. Zink went back to Wisconsin, packed her bags, and moved to Telluride. It wasn’t just KOTO that appealed to Zink. She had visited several of the

ski areas in Colorado, but when she pulled into the box canyon she knew her search was over. “The beauty, the vibe, the mountain, the people, none of the other places compared to Telluride,” Zink said. Zink arrived in November 1978. Several months later she got a radio show on KOTO on Monday nights called “Jumpin’ Jan with Steely Dan,” in honor of her favorite band. She did the show for over 35 years. Zink began working for KOTO in 1994 as Special Events Director to help with the station’s fundraising. In 1997, she created the Doo Dah, a concert event that benefited KOTO. She produced concerts on the Fred Shellman Memorial Stage in Town Park with Bob Dylan (two times), Widespread Panic, Lyle Lovett, String Cheese Incident, Jackson Browne, and others. Zink worked with promoter Todd Creel to produce the first two RIDE festivals in 2012 and 2013 in her capacity as Special Events Director at KOTO. In 2014, Zink left her job at KOTO to go to work for Creel at The RIDE full-time as the festival producer. “I really love introducing people to a variety of live music,” Zink said. “I like to walk through the crowd and see people react to artists like Bob Dylan, David Byrne, and Thievery Corporation. It’s tremendously rewarding.” \


60 • INSIDE ART

25

Shakespeare in the Park Turns

T

he true measure of an event’s success in Telluride is its longevity. The summer calendar here is brimming with happenings, but many of the races, shows, and festivals come and go after a few seasons. When something becomes a longstanding annual event, edging out the myriad other things going on in the valley, it’s for a good reason. Take Shakespeare in the Park—this year, the outdoor the-

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atrical experience celebrates its twenty-fifth season. Which means it is probably older than some of the people in its audience. Shakespeare in the Park has survived for so long because it is such a unique offering. Started by the Telluride Repertory Theatre in 1990, which has since evolved into Telluride Theatre, the plays are performed on the Town Park stage, with seating encircling the players on stage. The audience being so close makes for a uniquely intimate theatre experience, where you’re able to see and enjoy even

SUMMER/FALL 2015

the most subtle expressions and hear the bard’s famous asides loud and clear. Taking a picnic to the park and sitting on stage while the troupe performs, sometimes even to the sounds of dramatic summer storms, is a quintessential ritual of the season. “People love seeing Shakespeare in an outdoor setting because, whether they’re aware of it or not, performing in the fresh air brings us closer to how his plays were originally produced in the Globe Theatre. It brings a certain raw, unexpected and fresh quality to the show...and luckily our outdoor setting is jaw-droppingly gorgeous; there is nothing like Telluride’s Town park stage,” says

Sasha Sullivan, the artistic director. This year’s celebration will be the performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Shakespeare in the Park runs from July 18-25 at 8 p.m. (except Wednesday) with a Sunday July 19 matinee performance at 2 p.m., and tickets are available at telluridetheatre.org or by calling 970708-3934. The audience will be able to celebrate not just the history of theatre with one of the world’s most renowned plays, but also the history of local theatre. “Twenty-five years ago, Shakespeare in the Park came to Telluride,” says Colin Sullivan, the executive director. “That summer, before the company even had a name, they put on their first Shakespeare play. In some ways Shakespeare’s Midsummer is the story of Telluride’s Theatre: a theatre built by its artists, peppered with humanity, and spurred on by a little bit of magic.” \


Sign of the Times WAYFINDING PROJECT TO BRING NEW SIGNS TO TELLURIDE

I

t’s not that easy to get lost in downtown Telluride—it only consists of a dozen or so city blocks—but it can be pretty hard to find some of the key places if you’re unfamiliar with the town. Where is the museum? How do I get to the Ah Haa School? When Colorado Creative Districts designated the Telluride Arts District in town, they made one suggestion: better signage. To that end, Telluride Arts executive director Kate Jones has spearheaded the Wayfinding Project to create some signs to highlight the places that visitors want to find. Telluride Arts collaborated with the towns of Telluride and Mountain Village, the ski resort, and the historic district representatives to brainstorm about ways to help people navigate the town. They agreed to make clean up the clutter of existing signage and make clear, comprehensive signs and kiosks. Visitors will be able to identify public services (parking, trails, medical care, gondola, police, post office) and also to recognize the arts district using four “corners” or key destinations, the Ah Haa School for the Arts, the Palm Theatre, Telluride Historical Museum, and Town Park. “The main thing was to improve the Arts District identity in general, having it readily expressed that this is a robust arts community with many wonderful components,” says Jones. The Wayfinding Project has contracted a design firm from Basalt to devise the new signage, and Jones is excited about how it will look. She says the idea isn’t to have something loud or unseemly, just something simple, classy, and functional. “We didn’t want to do it Disneyland. Do it simple, real, and keep it Telluride. We don’t want to change or remove everything, we just want to make some small, subtle improvements that help people find their way.” \

Integrity

Telluride Mountain School is an innovative learning community

Love of Learning where strong academics, enriching experiences and

Respect

Responsibility who passionately contribute to the world. Have you considered a Telluride Mountain School education for your child? To set up a visit please call (970) 728-1969 or visit our website at www.telluridemtnschool.org. Telluride’s pre-K through 12th grade accredited independent school

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PURE LANDSCAPE Shaun Horne, Wilson Peak in Autumn, 30” x 44” oil

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Built in 1996, extensively remodeled in 2012, 403 Larkspur Lane is a lovely ski in ski out family home. With 5 bedrooms and baths, in just over 7000 square feet, this is absolutely one of the very best values at approximately $ 550 per square foot. Sold fully furnished. Superb views and perfect ski access. Easy to show on short notice. Call Erik Fallenius

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Adventure Within Reach. Paddle into class-three rapids, soar over Telluride’s box canyon, or take a leisurely trail ride led by genuine western wranglers. The Telluride Adventure Center will help personalize the area’s best adventures to suit your exploration needs.

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66 • TELLURIDE FACES

A Last Look

The Falls Wall What goes up must come down. A climber scales the wall at the east end of the valley, next to the state’s tallest waterfall, Bridal Veil Falls. PHOTO BY BRETT SCHRECKENGOST

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SUMMER/FALL 2015


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Telluride Magazine  

Read all about Telluride. Stories, essays, a fiction piece by Antonya Nelson, and fabulous photos in our summer/fall 2015 issue.

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