There is plenty to explore in Crested Butte, Colorado, and skiing their majestic mountains can provide all kinds of adventures and — in my case — a great misadventure. It’s always good to familiarize yourself with a map of the ski resort before skiing or boarding the mountain. It may prevent embarrassment.
After a full day of skiing and taking tons of photos, I relaxed the next day since temps were in the single digits and there was no new snow. I picked up my daughter, Courtney, from her Airbnb and planned to hit the slopes for a few runs in the afternoon. When we pulled into the parking lot, we had forgotten her snowboard. GAH!
I turned the ignition and put the car in reverse. I have a Highlander Hybrid, so when the car rolled backward and didn’t start properly, I figured that I pushed the start button and revered too quickly. The CHECK BRAKE SYSTEM warning appeared. After dinking around for a half-hour, I called Valvoline. They always reset the system after changing the oil. The instructions were complicated, and I heard: Mwa, mwa, mwa, mwa, mwa, something rather, something rather.
So, I gave up and called a Toyota dealership for troubleshooting advice. “It probably needs to reboot. Disconnect the battery, and you should be all set.”
All I needed was a pliers. I tore my car apart and found all kinds of treasures — a globe keychain, expired sunscreen, a lost dog brush… I gave up and walked to the ski and board tuning shop to borrow one, but disconnecting the battery didn’t help.
AND now my CHECK ENGINE light came on.
What was going on? I wanted to go skiing. We planned to leave the next day. The temps had warmed up, and the afternoon was slipping away. I wanted to take a few more pictures. So frustrating.
After messing around for another hour, Courtney’s boyfriend rescued us and gave my battery a jump. It started right up. YES! My husband took off to buy a new battery while I hustled back to the condo. I threw on my ski gear and hoofed it as fast as anyone can in ski boots. It was 3:45. The mountain closed at 4:00. Go for it, said the voice in my head.
I made it to the chairlift with ten minutes to spare.
While heading up the lift, I commiserated with a woman from Louisville not far from where I live. Since I’d only skied Crested Butte one day, she gave me advice on where to go for my only run. This is where I should have skied.
I started down the mountain and followed a snowboarder heading in the same direction — until he fell. Then I was on my own.
Instead of heading straight down, I followed another group and veered south — too far south. When I stopped at the top of the run, I realized my mistake. Below me, skiers and boarders had taken off their gear and traipsed across the flatland to housing in the distance. I had to stay high and cut back as far as I could, or I’d be walking too!
A track had been made by other misguided skiers along the ridge. I stayed as high and headed as northward as I could. A bluff covered with bushes loomed ahead.
By this time, I was flying down the mountain. As I wove between the underbrush, the trail curved around a blind corner.
Terrible thoughts flew into my pointy head:
What if this ends in a jump or worse — a cliff? When I heli-skied years ago, one of our guides led us off a ten-foot drop. The snow was deep in Canada, and I landed without injury, but snow in Colorado has been scarce. The packed snow would be harsh.
Kids are always seeking out jumps. This had to be one of them.
I put on my brakes, HARD, and caught an edge. Flying over the top of my skis, I landed in a classic face plant with my skis splayed out — relieved that nothing hurt.
Then, I began to slide.
Trying to prevent tumbling off a cliff, I clung to a small bush for dear life. I hoped it was deeply rooted and the branch wouldn’t break.
I became desperate to gain control of my flailing limbs and forced my skis to parallel. When they finally gripped the side of the mountain, I stood.
My cheeks heated up as a chairlift rumbled overhead.
OH, MY GOD.
There was no cliff. No jump. No peril at all.
I skied down a gentle beginner slope and imagined the ski patrol above me, discussing why I hung onto the sagebrush.
As I approached the base, ski patrol snowmobiled up the mountain while pulling an empty sled. Were they looking for me? I hoped not.
I ran into the lady from Louisville. “How was your run?” she asked, and I regaled her with my ridiculous fall. She laughed and shook her head. I would have laughed too.
Keep a pliers in your vehicle’s glove compartment.
If you get weird vehicle alerts, it’s probably a low battery.
Always consult a map before skiing a new resort.
Instead of heading home, we skied the next day.
I didn’t feel so bad about my bruised ego after we passed this semi in the ditch. It lay on its side right after a curve in the road. Maybe the driver was consulting a map. Hmm…
I’ll be sure to study on the ski resort map BEFORE I go skiing next time.
Have you ever overreacted? Made mistakes when traveling? Do you like to repair cars? Do you have a pliers in your glovebox?