It all started with my co-worker popping by my office.
“What are you doing this Saturday?” he asked.
“Probably working, you know I work from home on Saturdays.”
“Maybe you could take a couple of hours off? I have an idea for an outreach event at Brainard Lake.”
I knew Rick was a passionate member of the Boulder Mountain Bike Alliance.
“What did you have in mind?” I replied.
“The Forest Service is posting these new Winter Trail Etiquette signs for skiers, snowshoers and fat bikers. I thought it would be cool to have an event at the warming hut to talk about it. Would you or your husband be willing to help out for the IPWA?”
The IPWA is the Indian Peaks Wilderness Alliance, a partner group to Roosevelt-Arapaho National Forest staff. Bryon and I have volunteered for several years doing winter and summer trail patrols, answering question for visitors and helping out in emergencies.
I have to admit, I groaned inside, just a little bit. I’ve been feeling way overextended this year with volunteer commitments and two jobs. Yet, he looked so sincere and seemed so passionate, I did want to help him out.
“I could probably come for a couple of hours and I can ask my husband if he’d help out too.”
That turned into a Saturday morning at the warming hut at the Gateway Parking Lot. Bryan Mountain Ski Patrol got the fire going. Rick came with a stack of winter maps, cookies and a smile. The Forest Service sent their own staff person to round out our group.
Wanting to contribute, I brought a box of Kind bars and my own good will.
What a day it was!
The fire actually got going enough to provide warmth in the warming hut. Countless snowshoers, bikers, and skiers stopped in.
“Is this free? Can we have a cookie?”
“How are conditions on the Little Raven trail?”
“We’ve never skied before, can you recommend a trail for us?”
Everyone seemed appreciative of having people to talk to, the ability to get warm, and a snack before they hit the trail.
Before I knew it, my husband showed up.
“Is it 11 a.m. already?”
I couldn’t believe how quickly the time had passed, with all the people coming and going. At the end of the four hours, we had talked to almost 120 people. Many of the people were talked to were novice winter trail users, going skiing or snowshoeing for the first time.
Surprisingly, the focus of the event — winter trail etiquette – caused no issues for people. No one argued about bikers yielding to skiers, or skiers yielding to snowshoers. Everyone seemed happy for a chance to get outside and enjoy this bluebird day.
The power of partnership is alive and well in the Indian Peaks Wilderness. And the good will of the different user groups working together proved priceless.