I woke up early on day 2 of my solo CO snowboarding trip with renewed vigor. I was amped and excited for another great day out on the mountain after surviving the rest of day one with nothing much notable happening.
Once I was safely off of my locked balcony and back inside my room I finally got my GF pizza and had the relaxing night I had intended- As a matter of fact, looking back now, I would argue that BECAUSE of my escape I was actually able to relax even more. With the weed and adrenaline drenched experience behind me, laying on my bed felt all the more peaceful and I slept like a little baby. Orrr a giant baby…
At 7 AM on DAY 2 I was walking the streets of Golden in search of a good breakfast and some strong coffee- What I found instead was a community.
As I walked down Main Street I was greeted with a warm smile and a genuine hello from EVERY person I happened upon. It was a foreign and incredible feeling. I felt cared about by total and complete strangers. All it took was “How is your morning going?”– And then GENUINELY listening to and caring about the response.
After living in Los Angeles for a year and a half and spending time between baseball and lighting in most of the major (and minor) cities in 41 states- that concept seems to be fading. Particularly in cities like Los Angeles.
As I walked around LA, four months ago- before I decided to move and change my entire life- I was never once greeted by another person outside of a vague nod. Most passersby with earbud headphones and a stare locked on the pavement ahead of them or the bright lights of Hollywood above them. No eye contact is made, no pleasantries are exchanged. It’s a lonely city for a solo pedestrian. As I walked the streets of Golden, I felt greeted and welcome by the locals. It was an incredible way to start the day. I loved it.
After the morning conversations and a delicious breakfast at a diner- I headed to a great little snowboard/ski shop across Main St. from my hotel to rent myself a splitboard- Underprepared and overexcited– I was off to the backcountry for some riding!!!
I asked for advice on where to go and how to use the board from the tech at the board shop and he said I should head to Berthoud pass for my best chance at fresh lines on solid conditions- Avalanche danger was relatively low, which was good because I had NONE of the standard backcountry equipment…
Berthoud pass is a mountain pass road that connects Interstate 70 and Winter Park via Rte 40. At the top of the pass is parking lot and a small structure with bathrooms, a map and a warming room for harsher winter days.
There are several options from the top of the pass- Hike up in either direction to the summit of the mountain and then ride down to your car… OR ride from the parking lot down and hitch hike back up… Now, I had never hitch hike before and was worries about the process. Would I get picked up? What kind of people would pick me up? Would this work at all?
It was because of these fears that I hiked up and only rode back down to the car for most of the morning. However, after five or six runs I was exhausted from hiking and wanted to just ride- It was time to try hitch-hiking.
I left the parking lot on my snowboard and headed down the mountain. I figured worst case scenario I could hike back up, best case scenario I’d get picked up by a friendly stranger quickly and deposited right back in the parking lot for a new run. The actual result was somewhere in the middle, it took me 10-15 minutes to get my first ride– A whole family in a giant SUV! Not what I was anticipating but awesome none the less! They were headed back from a fun day at Winter Park skiing, two younger kids and presumably their father. I rode shot gun and talked to the kids for the five minute ride back to the peak.
After that, it was EASY! It never took me more than three or four cars to get picked up. The snow was great and weather was typical CO perfect. I spent the afternoon taking solo runs through trees and fresh snow, hitch-hiking back to the top and doing it again– SO much fun.
As my day approached the end, I got picked up and hopped in the back seat with two youngish guys in a Subaru Outback (every other car in CO).
They were cool guys and I was of course appreciative for the lift. We exchanged pleasantries and before you know it I was back in the parking lot, jumping out of the car and ready for one or two more runs. I waved goofily and gave my standard “hang loose” sign and they took off.
As I started the short walk across the parking lot to where I had been starting my lines to get ready to rip a new one, I noticed my rental car to my left- a newer model Toyota Camry from Hertz. A good car, utilitarian and black- it’s interior containing two blown speakers that I definitely had nothing to do with. Definitely.
Off to my right were three people and a dog grilling on their lunch break. They had been hiking and taking runs as well, I only occasionally ran into them at the same time in the parking lot. They were boarders as well and seemed to be in good spirits- I goofily waved Hi.
The snow was great as was the atmosphere and I was getting rides from complete strangers all day without a problem- I was feeling fantastic as I approached what was likely my last run of the day. As my friend Neveo would say- “Two more runs guys!” as he holds up a single finger, never wanting to tempt fate by calling out the “last run”.
I reached up for my backpack to check the time on my phone- I don’t wear a watch generally and I tend to keep everything in my backpack while I ride, preferring to keep completely empty pockets if possible-
Only one problem- my backpack wasn’t there.
It was in the Subaru with the two nice guys that gave me a lift and I never even got their names.
Along with my cell phone in my backpack was also my wallet AND the keys to my utilitarian Toyota Camry. Everything happily trundling down the mountain to a Phish soundtrack with two friendly strangers in a Subaru Outback.
I stood in a parking lot, on top of Berthoud pass, with a rented split board and a rented car that I could no longer open. The rest of my valuable possessions 10 minutes down the mountain presumable lost forever.