It’s been nothing less than an era in my life, our marriage, and our son’s life as well. I’m talking about the Dawson family connecting to Crested Butte since the 1970s, starting when my mother Patricia moved over there from Aspen in 1972 and built a house on Coal Creek at the west end of town.
Mom moved away a few times, and always came back. She loved heating her house with wood, splitting rounds by hand well into her late 60s, and even cooking on a wood burning cookstove. We’re talking Whole Earth Catalog stuff here, back to basics, mountain lifestyle that goes beyond synthetic softshells — way beyond.
Patricia did everything from running an arts non profit to being the Crested Butte Mayor’s assistant, all the while befriending dozens, actually, hundreds, of people in every age group. She alpine skied until a few years ago when having two artificial knees and other health issues made speed an iffy proposition. After alpine skiing she still got out on waxless track skis, gliding around a nearby golf course enjoying the tangy bite of alpine winter.
But most of all Patricia is an artist. A painter specifically, though she’s dabbled in creating everything from clothing to pottery. Inspired by the vivid colors of alpine skies and flowers, for years now she’s produced a series of stunning oil paintings that sell well, and grace homes from here to Texas.
Well, life marches on and Crested Butte is a hard place to age gracefully. Time for a move. I’ve got two brothers in Marin County, and they’re setting her up in some nice digs out there so she can live a less physically stressed life and enjoy grandchildren. The move is happening in a few weeks, so we headed over the mountains to CB for one more exercise of a Dawson tradition, the family alpine picnic.
– Grana bakery (Carbondale’s finest) rye bread and onion rolls
– Aged rypenear and gouda cheeses
– Sandwich lettuce
– Cabbage salad
– Cucumber salad
– Deli roast beef
– Arona sauvignon blanc, New Zealand
– Farm eggs, hardboiled
– Blue corn chips
– Desert: Grana ginger and chocolate chip cookies (almost too much), Rittersport and Tobler chocololate
– Organic lemonade, mineral water
Patrica is looking forward to visiting CB during coming summers, and we hope to gather together again, perhaps in the same place, perhaps with more family. For now, we have a vivid memory of windy alpine sky blanketing our four family members as we dine on rye bread and Tobler, talking about old times and recent adventures. Between laughs, our eyes linger over a looming pallet of grim slate scarps set off by verdant alpine carpets, all dropping like a perfectly composed painting to the vibrating azure of Emerald Lake. The mountain where Patricia loved to ski shows in the distance, we point them out to her grandson.
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.