Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I Once Lived "The Dream" In Aspen... Part Three

"Aspen" Part One

"Aspen" Part Two

The next summer we planned taking a back-packing and fishing trip across Electric Pass to Crested Butte with several other friends. Radar Lundh was one of those friends. The first couple of days brought the most gorgeous weather and skies, and we were having the time of our lives. We were catching cutthroat trout to die for and frying them up for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They were like the size of a salmon and the natural color of their meat was a beautiful crimson red.

It was a good thing we could catch them too, because back then the freeze-dried foods they sold for camping totally sucked. Truly, that crap was revolting, so I was thankful to have plenty of trout. We also took things like dried fruits, nuts, kipper snacks and crackers, as there wasn't much available (that was edible) in those days. I think the freeze dried scrambled eggs were the only thing I could stomach, as long as I could salt and pepper it to death. We were often lucky enough to come across raspberry bushes, but we could never actually count on it. It was merely a bonus.

The third day of our trip, dark clouds began slowly approaching and we knew we either had to turn back to our last camp or get moving on to the next before the weather set in. Electric Pass is NOT the place you want to be during a storm. Of. Any. Kind. Mind you, we had no radios (walkie-talkies) or cell phones (no one even dreamed of them then) or outside communication of any kind except for flares, which we would only use in dire emergencies. We decided to pack up camp and get to Crested Butte as quickly as we could. Radar said that he would bring up the rear and catch up with us in a while, so we quickly moved along in fear of the approaching storm. I'm a huge lightning weenie.

Radar was a wonderful photographer and wanted to get some shots of the dark, threatening weather. Once we reached the area where we were going to camp, we began setting up again (but with everything tighter), anticipating the storm. When Radar didn't show up within the agreed upon time, we got really worried, so Michael and another one of the guys decided to turn back and try to find him.

What they found was Radar lying on the ground unconscious, his hiking boots next to him (fully laced and tied), and Radar's backpack split clean down the center, also lying on the ground close to him. When he finally regained consciousness he told them that he'd been struck by lightning and had seen himself from above, lying on the ground. The lightning had blown him out of his boots, knocked him out and split the backpack he had on, down the center. Oddly enough, he insisted that he was able to carry on and the three of them finally made it to where we had our next camp. Once we made it to Crested Butte, we made Radar go to the hospital where they later released him, saying there had been no adverse side effects as far as they could see.

As a good humored joke, we gave Radar a mock wake the next week, which was hilarious and great fun. He got a huge kick out of it and of course, got to tell his story over and over.

Summer passed quickly and before we knew it, Winter would be with us, bringing our beloved snow. I must admit that we were all total and complete *Snow Ho's*. Once the snow began to fly in Wyoming and Montana, Michael was required to go to Avalanche Training with the other supervisors from the Aspen area mountains, which they did every year. As I recall, they went to Jackson Hole, Wyoming that year. They learned how to control avalanches by blasting key areas of deep snow with dynamite, so it was always dangerous even when it was just practice. Once the training was complete, they got back to Aspen just as the area mountains were preparing to open for the Thanksgiving holidays.
I made the decision to try out for the Ski School as an instructor, so I was busy with that since the tryouts were just a couple of weeks away. My main workout was bicycling or jogging up steep mountains which Michael usually did with me. When it came time for tryouts, I was buff and ready. I was so worried that I wouldn't make it, and I wished Peggy Sue was there to run with me, but my fears were unfounded. At the end of the week of tryouts, I was invited to be a Snowmass Ski Instructor, under the tutelage of a Norwegian named Peter Dahl who was the Snowmass Ski School Supervisor. Peter was organized and tough, but he was also loads of fun and immensely entertaining. I had never in my entire life been so happy. For the first time (roughly since birth), I had everything I'd ever wanted and I was as content as I could ever have dreamed of being.

Thanksgiving and Christmas found us working and celebrating the holidays with friends. We were working and skiing so much that we hardly noticed that the holidays had come and gone. In January we were offered a house-sitting position in Snowmass, which meant we'd be able to ski to and from work everyday instead of making the 25 minute trip to and from town everyday. It took even longer taking the main road but we always took the Old Snowmass Road (Imagine driving on a snow covered washboard. Uh-Huh), which let out onto the main road at about The Anderson Ranch, which was just past The Aspen Country Day School.

Things just kept getting better and better for us. Well, except for the fact that we were always hopelessly broke. Still, it was all good because we were living the dream then. We didn't care about money... until we were out of it, of course.

To Be Continued...


Anonymous said...

OMG, your friend was so lucky! Great story and I can't wait until the next installment!

Flea said...

It sounds like you truly were living a fairy tale. I need to know what happened!

imbeingheldhostage said...

This is so great. Especially because I got to read two installments together and not wait. now I'm waiting again. still waiting. Don't get carpel tunnel please, I'm waiting. :-)

Krysta said...

ahhh... i leave for a couple days and i come to a story! i love your storie can't wait to read more.

scargosun said...

I am FINALLY catching up. You have me totally rivitted to this story. PLEASE post the next part soon!

sista #2 said...

I start school Monday...will this be finished by then!!! I want to read the rest of it !! dammit


Keeper Of All Things said...

I really love this story!!

You've been tagged check out my site

Janie said...

Girlfriend! More! More! More!

You like leaving us hanging off the snowy precipice, don't ya?
Cause you're probably talented enough to just jump that deal and go to the next slope.


Pleasing Procrasinator said...

Wow, Radar sure was lucky. It knocked his boots clean off? The HORROR! Did he get some awesome pictures?
I love this story!!


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