The C Chair Shuffle and the Hike up Four O'Clock Run
and hitch hiking Loveland Pass
In my early 20's back in the early 90's I passed through Colorado on a cross country motorcycle adventure. I stayed with friends in Boulder and Aspen. This taste of the Rockies was not enough. After settling in the Bay area for a short while I realized that I would be happier in the Rockies, so I sold my motorcycle, shipped my mountainbike and gear back to DC, got in my car and drove out to Colorado. My arrival to Colorado was a confusing one. There was so much to learn about the system of the mountain resort town, not to mention I was in an odd situaion with a quasi girlfriend who had a quasi ski patrol boyfriend, but that is a BLOG not worth BLOGGING about. Other than my spring time ride up the Gondola in Aspen I had never been on a ski lift before, the only snowboarding I had ever done was on the old Burton boards that lacked a metal edge. Our rides were always on golf courses with moderate grades and usually ended with a crash rather than a stop. Upon arrival to Colorado I learned that the snowboard needed a metal edge, snowboards needed special binding, and also special boots...to top this off...riding the chair needed a lift ticket or a lift pass. Lacking the funds for any of this I was forced to settle in on another option, Hitch-hiking Loveland Pass. Having never experienced a metal edge I was zipping through the trees without any chance for stopping, again falling back on crashing as my only stop option. It was complete madness, looking back, I realize I was lucky to walk away without breaking several limbs. I was going from a gentlely graded grade of a golf course to a steep wooded path with short steep drops, jumps, and all sorts of other dangerous obstacles. It is funny to think that the first trip to Loveland Pass was with Jack, the quasi boyfriend of my quasi girlfriend...he cooked me breakfast that morning....like the warden delivering a death row inmate his last meal.
DEAD MAN BOARDING!
I recall being winded by the high altitude. Never knowing that it was not my inexperince that put me at such high risk as much as it was my inferior equipment. Jack, a seasoned ski veteran, and a ski patroler, knew the danger he was putting me in by taking me to "the Pass." I survived. We did not truly bond on this experience, the basis of our relationship forbad such a closeness. It was all so new and different for me. The whole mountain experience. The people, the culture, the absence of oxygen, and the sport of snowboarding were completely forgein to me. As I waited at the botton of the out of bounds ski run leaning on my diminutive board that lacked metal edges I got looks and stare, made friends, and got laughs....but I did not get it. It was only months later when I got NITRO FUSSION all mountain board that I came to understand what a snowboard truly was.
Eventually, I got a job, actually got several, backed away from the quasi girlfriend and her quasi boyfriend and let them take their course, I settled in Breckenridge. I knew just a few people. My boarding stepped back to the basics, with a ski pass and a new board I was able to see how insane my efforts were on that old Burton Woody. Took it all back a notch and tried to keep my uninsured body out of harms way. Oh, I forgot to mention that I got run over by a car within the first months of arrival, that may have taken some wind out of my sails as well. From my morning job I went to the mountain and did some riding and then off to therapy. Quasimotto needed to fix his back. Quasimotto did not have a quasi girlfriend, all he had was a whole lot of back pain and a mess of hospital bills, and a whole lot of drinking and shooting pool...that is what boys do in these girl-less cowboy towns.
The seasons changed. Boarding moved to biking, well first snow turned to mud. The high altidude environment was usless to me. No fun for the biker and no fun for the boarder. Funny how we were unable to appreciate our situation, guess that is being young and stupid. By this time I had a network of friends and we had all lost our seasonal jobs and were looking for other jobs and trying to entertain ourselves. We drank, we shot pool, and we took road trips....off to Boulder for days or weeks at a time....then off to Moab to ride our bikes...then back to the mountains....we did not appreciate how grand it all was. It was amazing. If we had been able to limit the alcohol intake we may have been able to do some more riding and some more hiking and even added a few more sports to our routine, but I think that the ski town has a certain loneliness that we tried to drown with bottles of Jim Beam and whatever else drink special may be available for us.
Then, as much as I loved the mountains and enjoyed the party. I felt it was time to leave. For some reason I thought I would do some more traveling, Asia was on the brain. And honestly, there were aspects of the resort lifesyle that I could not take any more. The never ending party was something I was trying to escape. Humorously enough I got back to DC only to drink and shoot pool in another town. My plans to go cross country on a big old Suzuki GS850 to fly our of SF to Japan were put on hold as after a broken clavicle made me jobless and I spent all my cash, while my disassembled motorcycle could not be assembled with one hand as the other one healed in a sling. Once back on my feet I lost sight of that goal and fell in love with my now wife. We got to Asia, only to visit, never to live, it was an awesome 4 months Guess we will have to get back.
more in a bit
back from lunch
where was I?
where am I going with this?
from the title it seems that I am supposed to bring this around to the C Chair Shuffle
once back on the East Coast I still had a need to fulfill my craving for POWDER
some of my peers teased me with what they figured to be the tongue or dialect of the snowboarder...
"FRESHIES...CHERRY CHERRY POW POW...EPIC...."
They were right, these were the words so often used to explain the pleasure of deep champagne powder....but they did not understand, no one who has experienced it can ever understand....it is a drugless drug and I loved it and I craved it. So each winter after my return to Washington I would make a pilgramage back to Breckenridge. There were still friends living the same life so there were always couches to sleep on, bar mates to drink with, and boarders to ride the chair with. There was one issue...all of this was very expensive. Whether flying or driving that all cost money. When on vacation, whether for a week or for a month, that was time when money was going out and no money was coming in. Lift tickets are expensive so I had to be creative......I tried to mix up my approaches and my attacks to decrease the odds of getting into real trouble. In an effort not to get anyone into trouble other than myself I tended to try and hike onto the mountain alone. There were two different routes that I used to get to a chair that accessed accessed some of the higher parts of the mountain, but the lift opperators did not check for tickets, as it was a quarter of the way up the mountain. This path was called THE C CHAIR SHUFFLE. I would vary my route, usually cutting through the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center, but this route put me right below the chair lift, behind the "lift ops." Quite risky, hiding in their blind spots, Jedi mind tricks, and pure luck were all needed....I felt like I was living "Murder on the Orient Express." (or whatever that movie about the tourist smuggling hashish back from Turkey was) The hike up Four O' Clock Run was a tad longer, but it offered a situation where you could click into your board and ride right into the queque. Still risky. I did get caught, but never got in trouble, I was lucky. Apparently there was a safe and easy hike to the Falcon Chair on Peak 10, but that was never convient for me, but Bob Blair claimed it was the safest. When I did not feel like hiking there was always the wire snips for the afternoon ride, which was an A-Basin favorite or the ever dangerous Children's ticket, children under 6 ride free.....it was a ticket, and it worked on the modern scanners.....but was very risky...you have to enter the lift line and go face to face with the the mercenary lift op seeking the bounty of 50 dollars for nabbing the scamming snowboarder. Let me cut this short, this is not a manual, "50 Ways to get onto the mountain without Paying" As my recommendation to anyone is to get a job that pays well enough that you do not need to fall back on the "hook up" or "the scam." It is too risky and too stressful.
if I were to live life all over again...
there are many things I would do different
but that is a BLOG for another day