When I decided to hike to the top of Mount Crested Butte, I didn’t expect to end up in the local paper.
Sometimes you can do a lot more than just hike when you climb a mountain. My recent visit to Colorado happened to coincide with an event put on by a worthy local organization in Crested Butte. Founded in 2000, Living Journeys is a non-profit dedicated to supporting individuals financially and emotionally through chemotherapy and other cancer treatments. Every year its half-marathon to the top of the Silver Queen Lift on Crested Butte Mountain raises money to keep the good work going. Participants can make it a run or a walk, with the option of continuing on to the summit.
During the event I was staying with my sister Barbara in Crested Butte. Barbara is a cancer survivor and has herself benefited from the work of Living Journeys. Whenever they can, she and her family volunteer in its fundraising activities, so when it came time for her to staff the aid station at the top of the lift, I went along to help. But before we worked, we played: we made our own trek to the summit. From the top of Silver Queen Lift (which you can ride up for a fee if you wish) it’s 1.5 miles to the tip of the eponymous crested butte. This day the weather, though cool and misty, was clear enough for vistas from the saddle and a 360-degree view the top at 12,162 feet. When we reached it we took pictures, but didn’t stay up there long–so many people were hiking that there wasn’t much space available to stand still in one place, and we needed to make room for other arrivals. The large crowd included two septuagenarian women who had hiked from the bottom together, and more than one very small child being closely shepherded up the rocky spine by a parent. In Crested Butte, when it comes to outdoor activity they start them young and continue well into the senior years.
It was a great event on a great day, for a great cause, and a great way to celebrate life. Seeing our picture in the paper was just an unexpected extra.