Monday, March 22, 2010


Every spring in Crested Butte the best of the local, talented, Telemark skiers participate in a race dedicated to Al Johnson. In the late 1800's, Al Johnson was a mail carrier who traveled between various mining communities in the Crested Butte area. He was known for his courage on skis and held himself to the principle that "the mail must go through." At roughly 9000 feet, the seventeen miles he traversed from Crystal to Crested Butte are some of the most treacherous winter terrain in the Gunnison Valley. Johnson would strap on mail sacks, which often weighed more than twenty-five pounds, and ski with this burden through snowy, rugged canyons and passes.

The race is a combination of up hill/downhill beginning with a mass start of approximately 200 men and women. The race course begins near the top of Mt. Crested Butte, climbs six hundred vertical feet to the top of a ridge, then plunges twelve hundred feet down through extreme skiing terrain. Following the start, there is only one control point - a gate at the top of the uphill section. After passing through this point, racers may choose any route to reach the finish gate which is located at the bottom of the "Last Steep." Another short uphill section brings racers to the finish line. A good many of the participants do this in costumes - some unimaginably difficult to ski in, let alone to manage the difficulty of the course.

The is the Hot Dog, complete with mustard, a fun home made costume.

The Gnome carried his feet in front.

The Flower in the Pot managed to keep the flower intact throughout the whole race, though climbing the last hill wasn't easy.

The Mad Hatter had more trouble with his hat, especially when climbing the hill to the finish

The Farmer followed.

The Cookie Monster was a hit, as he opened and closed his mouth.

Sponge Bob was one of the younger competitors.

But can you imagine skiing a steep hill in a Truck?

Or paddling your own Canoe?

Though some members of the Water Ballet lost their water, they still earned a 10.

Monday, March 1, 2010


The other week on our way to visit our grandson at Northern Arizona U. we stopped at a place I have wanted to visit for years, the Antelope Slot Canyons of Page, Arizona. The canyons are on the Navajo reservation and were discovered in the 1930's by a 12 year old Navajo girl tending her sheep.

With a Navajo guide, you enter through a narrow slot in the red rock wall on the canyon into a magical world.

The canyons are made from Navajo sandstone, mainly by erosion from flash floods, and are not a place to be in a rainstorm,

Ambient light coming through holes in the roof turn the walls into an endless variety of colors.

The floor of the canyon is a very fine red sand which creates havoc with the shutter release of your camera, especially mine.

Occasionally you come upon pieces of debris left over from a recent flood.

And looking up there are a few logs wedged between the walls at the high water mark.

Our Guide, Verne, besides being a great help in seeing formations and visualizing photos, also entertained us with beautiful flute music.

As we neared the exit of the canyon the light playing on the formations guided our way. It was a memorable 2 hours.