For the past 6 weeks I have not driven my car. Instead I have walked the mountain town. Shuttling on foot from yoga, to the coffee shop, to the grocery store, the dog park and back home . One of our goals was to live somewhere where we could walk everyday.
During the week between Christmas and New Years there were 160,000 visitors in a town that has 4,500 permanent residents. I was glad to walk everywhere as drivers were impatient and the traffic was bumper to bumper. In this mountain town, the sidewalks remain clear and walkable due to hot water pipes running under the cement. Quite brilliant. It’s too bad Canadian cities have not done the same.
My favourite “date” with my fiancé is to get a soy caramel late, and take the 20 minute free ride in the gondola up the mountain. It is so silent riding the gondola. We glide above forested wilderness. From the gondola we have seen moose, red foxes, and bears. There is marshland, and frozen water that has nothing but animal tracks. It is like a moving meditation in the wilderness with no effort exerted. All in the comfort of a glass cabin in the air.
Heading down the mountain range to the Denver airport is a trek. We got the car warmed up after 6 weeks of sitting. We dug it out three times as it was snowing constantly. We left Breck and drove an hour at 35 mph, getting about 15 miles to Silverthorne.
The I-70 on-ramp was closed, and the Eisenhower tunnel was closed. We were turned back. Only then did it dawn on me how isolated we are in the mountains. There is only one way down, and if that is too dangerous to pass you are turned back. We took it for granted we would be able to get to the airport and travel down the mountain with ease. This time we missed our flight.
A simple trip down the mountain becomes a two-day voyage due to the mercurial weather storms that blow through the mountains suddenly.
The next day we got through the pass, my ears popped 3x on the way down the mountains descending from 9000 ft to 5000 ft altitude. There were two air masses interacting half way down the mountain that caused a pounding headache for us both.
As we descended, the wilderness of the mountains surrounded us. What a blissful bubble the town of Breckenridge is. Only 15 minutes outside the town there is no phone reception, no clear roads, no gas. At any moment the visibility could be zero, with snow falling off the mountain cliff or an avalanche that shuts the highway.
Imagine being in this mountain town in the 1800’s gold mining halfway up the mountain. Imagine living in a rough wood cabin built from the surrounding trees with the snow blowing through the cracks in the walls creating a snow carpet onto the floor. I watched a documentary called the Ladies of the mines. It depicted the life of women who were wives of the gold miners. Their job was to cook, wash and educate the kids. One woman’s diary from the time period said that “she felt free in the mountains to be the woman she wanted to be.” In one photo she is shooting a gun with her husband and wearing pants and a cowboy hat. Written accounts from the time talk about breaking with convention of what was expected of women at that time. In this mountain town women rode horses, set up schools, took in the miners laundry, and had their own income. One women referred to missing the mountains when she went back to normal society, as women led aimless lives “with calling cards and an invitation to tea”.
Were these 1800’s women feminists before the word was coined? Were they bucking the traditional role of women at that time.
I guess that is why so many people come to the mountains, to reinvent themselves without conventional roles or expectations put on them. Is that what I am doing here?
What would you do if you had no expectations put upon you? How would you re-invent yourself?