Moonlight in the Rockies 8/1/12

Low whitewater flows through the Colorado River and the Yampa is but a trickle of what it was last year (100 cfs from 9000). Well to do excitable vacationers bring their children up mountains, down river runs, and even to the Triple Crown World Series in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. The next day request, or reservations of rafting trips, included specifications for twenty people, including four with XXXXL life-vests and two more with XXXL vests. The seasonal river guides were not sure if they had vests that big for the 300+ pound vacationers. The boats were nearly 20 years old and had made it through the most rugged of river levels. Spirits remain high regardless of the time of day, however several ‘greatest generation’ers stiffed our host after a five hour river guide experience. He is part of that gang of twenty and thirty-somethings who make up the seasonal workforce.

Some stay permanently in whatever occupation is available, even attaining the status rewarding them with ski passes for the winter, which run around $1,000 a season. Then there’s the river. An average run costs over $100 and most of the guides are simply people who made an impression during a week long $400 training run. In any given ski town or other Rocky Mountain town, hundreds of river guides wait for employment and make do with whatever pays enough to keep them going in paradise. Fishing guides, and dozens of other service workers keep the town going, at least until 10:00pm.

The common challenge is to continue the experience of the mountains. Wilderness surrounds Steamboat and wealthy doctors, lawyers, and business executives construct houses into the heights of town. The billionaires have not pushed out the millionaires yet. Locals carry pride in their community and have not accepted the newly built Walmart and CVS Pharmacy. Off the beaten path bookstore is a quaint little shop and now sells Wild Harmony.

Filled with an overjoyed sense of humor, seasonals share drinks among tourists who sip down their hurricane mixed drinks and talk loudly of their fishing expedition. The town is busier than ever and the male population is exuberant over the fresh supply of adventurous women, while locals feel some relief. Rent is not cheap and some take the further step of living up in the mountains in the wilderness to save some money. Steamboat is also home, at least in the training sense, to many Olympians who are now in London competing for the gold. Those with means have been buying up property for years, including the old ski lift which runs up the original mountain to a chateau which is now owned by some Italian. Up in the mountains away from all residential areas is one of the most amazing hot springs in the world, Strawberry, and in those heated waters, people of all ages swim around in the moonlit night.

Wild Harmony in Steamboat Springs Birthday from James Coyne on Vimeo.